Community Impact of Organised Crime

Community Impact of Organised Crime

Issued: Mon, 04 Jun 2018 11:54:00 BST

One of the School's research centres, the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research (SCCJR) has concluded a study, led by Associate Directors, Dr Alistair Fraser, from Sociology, and Dr Niall Hamilton-Smith (University of Stirling), which examined serious organised crime, its impact in communities, and the potential for local services to prevent exploitation. 

The research identifies good practice and makes a series of recommendations to enhance Scotland’s response to serious organised crime (SOC), including:

  • Strengthening links between local services, particularly housing and social work, to help prevent exploitation of vulnerable residents
  • Recognising that “the best asset in responding to organised crime is the community itself”, to develop community resources and local policing models to support community intelligence-gathering, and increased trust in police and other key service providers
  • Considering legislation offering greater powers to respond to exploitation, possibly through a new criminal offence of ‘coercive control’ similar to that for domestic abuse.
  • Challenging the myths around SOC and communicating the real-world consequences of being drawn into organised crime

Alistair said 'For the first time, we have been able to hear from people living in communities across Scotland where organised crime is part of everyday life. The study shows that while organised crime might be thought of as glamorous it is rooted in deep and enduring forms of harm and exploitation at community level.

While the study showed that these impacts are most extreme in communities where there is entrenched vulnerability from long-term deprivation, they exist throughout society. Our fieldwork also suggested that one of the best assets in responding to organised crime is the community itself and we need to find ways to harness this potential.'

The research on community experiences of SOC involved in-depth one-to-one interviews and discussions with residents, schools, businesses, community organisations and public service professionals in a number of areas known to be affected by organised crime. 

The nationally-representative Ipsos MORI research surveyed 1,088 people about awareness and experiences of SOC. In line with a 2013 survey, 60% of respondents thought police were effective in tackling the issue, while 22% thought they were ineffective.

Asked who they thought had a role to play in tackling organised crime in Scotland, respondents most commonly (87%) said the police. Around a third (37%) mentioned the Scottish Government and 26% said “everyone” – this latter finding representing the largest change from the 2013 survey when the equivalent figure was 15%.

To coincide with the study, Alistair has written a blog piece for The Herald, 'Why Scotland needs to change the conversation on organised crime.'


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