In 2013 the Daily Mail did a most unusual thing, it published a rogue’s gallery of over one hundred ‘career criminals’ so called because these are the guys who make so much money from crime, that to them, prison is nothing more than a glitch in the time-line.
Take for example, Terry Adams an Irish Catholic gangster belonging to a family credited with up to twenty-five murders and worth a couple of hundred million. Mr Adams was a part of the Daily Mail’s rogue gallery because the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) had made him subject to special restrictions. These restrictions – which can begin while the convict is behind bars and last for years after release – included travel bans, limits on car use and a prohibition on associating with other known criminals. Many criminal offenders are also required to report all their financial dealings and tell law enforcement officers their mobile phone number so their contacts can be monitored. Breaches are punished with additional prison terms, but you have to catch them at it first, and the surveillancing of just one criminal subject to just one of these orders costs money. Example? Mr Adams was returned to prison for seven weeks in November 2011 for breaching a financial reporting order requiring him to inform Soca regularly about his monetary affairs.
Another name featured on the Daily Mail’s gallery of Soca surveillanced rogues was a Mr Bekir Arif, ever heard of that name? Nope. Neither had I, Mr Bekir it seems, is the head of a notorious family based criminal gang known for drug dealing but who also had a nasty sideline in Securicor van robberies. During one of their robberies, part-time guard David Cross – a father of three who was trying to earn a bit of extra cash to support his family – was blasted at point-blank range. As he lay dying on the floor, the five-man gang – part of the fearsome Arif Family – simply smirked at his desperate cries for help. The Arif family are known for millions of pounds worth of drug dealing in the UK, money laundering and the occasional robbery based murder (shall we count all those indirect drug addiction crimes? I think not). Again Mr Arif had been made subject to special restrictions, which requires surveillance which costs money.
Abdul Sakhizada, of Northampton,once boasted of being Europe’s biggest people trafficker and was jailed for nine years. Two other gang members, including Sakhizada’s brother, were also jailed.They brought more than 100 immigrants to the UK, mainly from Afghanistan and Pakistan, and put them to work in pizza shops to pay debts of up to £10,000. Having been made subject to SOCA’s ‘special restrictions’ will have quite literally shut down his operations and perhaps even resort to finding employment….in a pizza parlour to pay off his debts.
Now, some may say that SOCA’s work, with this list of 150 ‘professionalists’ was specialised and some what ‘elite’ and did not require the degree of expense it incurred. The government would agree with you, because in 2013 SOCA was closed down and its duties were taken on by the National Crime Agency and on a smaller budget.
There’s just one significant problem with that belief & the cost cutting that followed it, almost all organised crime in the UK is bound up in the control and supply of drugs. Police believe this is responsible for more than half of all the illegal activities of these groups. In the North-east and North-west of England the figure jumps to around 80 per cent. In short the drug deals of Messrs Adams & Bekir (and their families) is part of what makes drugs, guns and teenage deaths possible in certain cities throughout England.
Alongside this, the vast majority of gangs control small patches of the UK with specialist interests. These are the Glasgow drug gangs, the Newcastle protection racketeers, the north London forgers, and the south London crack dealers. However, there is evidence that these small zones of influence are beginning to merge and grow. How do we know this? Because from time to time the police are able to conduct their own research on precisely what is going on, but with austerity? The research grows as patchy and as sparse as their ability to keep tabs on the kinds of endemic & organised criminal activity that can make the lives of ordinary people such a living hell. As much as the government dislikes hearing it said, it is time to cry wolf, because those cuts are having consequences.