Crime may not be so random

The Organised Crime Task Force released it’s annual report yesterday. Maybe its time people step back from entrenched attitudes of ‘it must be right if our ones are doing it’. Perhaps the question needs to be asked ‘Are we creating a society that will ultimately be unpoliceable and ungovernable?’

According to the Belfast Telegraph ‘The report urges the public to be aware that there are no victimless crimes and demonstrates the successes law enforcement agencies have had in tackling the scams which deprive the local economy of millions.
The report assesses the amount of income which the Government and public and private businesses are being deprived of through criminal gangs based in and operating from Northern Ireland:

* Intellectual property crime (counterfeiting) is estimated to cost the local economy £200m a year. Goods recovered have included power tools, batteries, toys, condoms and veterinary drugs. Counterfeit cigarettes and alcohol, widely sold at local markets, are potentially lethal;

* Police seized drugs worth £7m in the last financial year. While the scale of the drug problem is not as great as the rest of the UK or Ireland there is growing indication of a rise in demand and availability of cocaine. Seizures of the killer drug have soared by 800% since 2002/2003;

* 30m of criminal assets were restrained or confiscated by police, customs or the Assets Recovery Agency;

* 35m illegal cigarettes were seized in the province by customs officials;

* Environmental crimes such as illegal dumping are worth at least £25m a year;

* Extortion generates in excess of £10m criminal profit a year;

* Fuel smuggling and legitimate cross-border shopping costs the local economy £245m a year.

Security Minister Paul Goggins said: “Organised crime creates victims across the spectrum, from shopkeepers robbed at gunpoint, to families destroyed by drugs. It is big business in Northern Ireland and it’s our job to put it out of business. Make no mistake, organised crime is harmful and impacts on every man, woman and child.”

  • Jacko

    Liam Clarke once put this very well when he said that instead of the general public attitude of “they might be bastards but they’re our bastards” it should be “they might be ours, but they’re still bastards”.

  • Pete Baker

    Some additional links worth noting Miss Fitz:

    PA report

    BBC report

    Goggins statement.

    and the actual OCTF report[pdf file]

    The report seems to follow the line from the IMC regarding paramilitary groups[as noted in the PA report]:

    Many involve paramilitaries who remain steeped in crime.

    Some senior IRA men are still running fuel laundering, money laundering, extortion and smuggling rackets, the report says.

    But it acknowledges the Provisionals` leadership, which announced an end to all illegality last July, is trying to prevent the individuals involved.

    The report says loyalists continue to deal drugs and run a series of other money-spinning scams including counterfeiting, money lending and armed robbery.

    It also says dissident republican groups have used the proceeds from shifting contraband goods, robbery and intellectual property crime to fund attacks on the security forces.

    But the list, in the minister’s statement, of threats facing the OCTF in the forthcoming year make interesting reading:

    OCTF assesses the principal threats for 2006/7 to be:

    Money laundering;
    Armed robbery & cash-in-transit attacks;
    Excise & tax frauds (including oils fraud)
    Extortion, blackmail &intimidation;
    Intellectual property crime (counterfeiting);
    Illegal dumping

  • Miss Fitz

    I have posted the site that leads to the report, and generally hope people will follow that. The report is prominent on the site.

    Thanks for the additional links, but I always hope the readers will do a little digging themselves.

  • Pete Baker

    Ah.. you may need to re-edit the link to the site you posted, Miss Fitz.. it’s not showing here.

    There’s another quote somewhere, the PA report, which seems to contradict the figures:

    Mr Goggins added: “We should not exaggerate the scale of the problem posed by organised crime, Northern Ireland is not a Mafia society.

    Of course it isn’t Mr Goggins…

  • Miss Fitz

    Cheers Pete, it seems to be working now. Had a lot of trouble getting that post up. Good job I’m not superstitious!

  • Pete Baker

    If you hadn’t succeeded I would have been touching on it myself, Miss Fitz.. I had the links to hand for that reason.

    On the statement and report links. One benefit of linking them directly is that they are then fixed in the archive.. so future updates on the OCTF site don’t affect the visibility of the report, and statement, when someone visits via the link here.

  • Miss Fitz

    BTW Pete, the official statement from Goggins doesnt say anything about Mafia society or other wise, not sure where that line came from. He certainly uses the term organised crime on multiple occasions. I guess that strictly speaking the Mafia is an organised crime element within Italian/Sicilian communities and by definition we cannot be Mafia unless we apply to join the Cosa Nostra. Interestingly, in Sicily the term mafia appears to denote strength or bravery and they would mainly use cosa nostra to define the ‘mob’

    However, I do think that ‘mafia’ became more colloquial, particularly as we have seen reference to ‘Russian mafia’ ‘East European mafia’ etc.
    The Chinese have their own ‘Triads’ of course, and there are many others, all destroying their communities in the same way.

  • Miss Fitz

    Fair enough on the links Pete, will keep in mind

  • Pete Baker

    On Mr Goggins remarks, Miss Fitz, the PA reports are generally reliable.. I’d suggest that he used it in his speech, probably with the intention to influence subsequent reporting.. after all, we can’t allow the impression to be given that we’re completely lawless.. not when the Minister, and his predecessors, have been doing such a great job….


    * Police seized drugs worth £7m in the last financial year. While the scale of the drug problem is not as great as the rest of the UK or Ireland there is growing indication of a rise in demand and availability of cocaine. Seizures of the killer drug have soared by 800% since 2002/2003;

    Some mistake surely?

    Aren’t we constantly being told that every Loyalist area in Northern Ireland is awash with drugs?
    How can it be that the drugs problem here is not as high as the rest of the UK and ireland when we all know that all Loyalist paramilitaries are evil drug Barons?

    Maybe the people who made this report just forgot to read Slugger for all the valuable information so many people seem to have about Loyalism and drugs?

  • Nevin

    Miss Fitz, would you be surprised if a councillor and a reputed paramilitary boss went into business together with the aid of a bank loan? Would you be shocked to see some of the names posted on the Valuation and Lands Agency website? I’ve not identified the places, the businesses or the people.