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Organised Crime

Volume 490: debated on Friday 27 March 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans the Government has to improve the effectiveness of tackling organised crime operating across police force borders. (266255)

We intend to build on the significant developments already accomplished in improving the police response to protective services in the round through the tri-partite Protective Services Improvement Programme. Particular emphasis has been placed on serious organised crime and the focus of that work has been above the level of individual police forces. We are continuing to support the ten Regional Intelligence Units, set up in each region to analyse, assess and develop information and intelligence held by police forces and other law enforcement agencies on serious organised crime; we are continuing to fund the work of the office of the National Co-ordinator for Serious Organised Crime, whose role includes ensuring that there is a co-ordinated response to cross-border serious organised crime across the country and that improvements needed in tackling cross-border organised crime are identified and addressed; and we are continuing to support and fund the work of the East Midlands Special Operations Unit—a region highlighted by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary in 2005 as having significant needs in addressing serious organised crime. In addition to maintaining these resources, in 2009-10 we are will be match-funding pilots in the West Midlands and North West regions to build multi-agency serious organised crime capability to strengthen the operational response and build on existing collaboration in those regions. £1 million in matched funding will also be used to target forces with specific gaps in organised crime.

Recognising the need to improve co-ordination we have established the Organised Crime Partnership Board (OCPB), attended by senior representatives from the relevant organised crime law enforcement agencies, to provide the necessary strategic direction and co-ordination for a joint response to organised crime across the law enforcement and criminal justice community. The OCPB has agreed a unified programme of work and is sponsored by a cross-Governmental Ministerial Advisory Group to ensure that good progress is made in this vital area.

As part of HMIC’s role as the explicit ‘guarantor of the public interest’, from 2009-10 it will continue to assess and review progress on improvements in all of the protective services and the inspectorate is separately conducting a review to identify the potential need and functionality of collaborative frameworks above force level for different policing functions such as organised crime.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment her Department has made of the effectiveness of each police authority in tackling organised crime operating across police force borders. (266256)

As part of an examination of each of the protective services policing areas, we have asked Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary to conduct a thematic review into each police force's capability and capacity for dealing with serious organised crime. Its report is expected to be published in redacted form shortly. Her Majesty's Inspectorate has also conducted a review into the planning undertaken by forces and authorities for identifying gaps and making improvements in protective services, which includes serious organised crime, and the report ‘Get Smart—Planning to Protect’ is available on the Inspectorate's website at the following address:

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what funding has been made available to each police authority to tackle organised crime operating across police force borders in each of the last 10 years. (266257)

The general police grant is provided to police authorities by the Home Office and allocated within each force to the different areas of policing. Serious organised crime is not funded separately. However central funding is provided to address this crime area above the force level. This includes running the Serious Organised Crime Agency for which funding has been £426 million in 2006-07, £445 million in 2007-08 and £474 million in 2008-09. £8 million of additional funding was also provided nationally in each of the years 2006-07 and 2007-08 to establish Regional Intelligence Units in each of the 10 ACPO regions in England and Wales and to strengthen the response to serious organised crime in the east midlands through the creation of a Special Operations Unit. In 2008-09 £5 million has been allocated for continuing support to the Regional Intelligence Units and £2 million to the east midlands Special Operations Unit. A number of protective services collaboration demonstrator projects, each involving more than one force area, have also received start-up funding since 2007-08 out of a £5 million budget, several of which include serious organised crime workstreams.