Page last updated at 09:25 GMT, Tuesday, 2 June 2009 10:25 UK

More cash to combat serious crime

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The key objectives of the strategy are to divert, disrupt, deter and detect

An extra £4m and an increase in staffing by 25% have been announced in the drive to fight serious crime.

The Scottish Government's new strategy will be built around four key objectives to divert, disrupt, deter and detect.

It is claimed extensive analysis has shown the scale of organised crime.

Launching the new strategy, Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said: "We know more about who they are, who they work with and what they are doing."

He said the money will create 80 new posts at the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency (SCDEA) over the next two years.

Mr MacAskill told BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme: "There is an issue and there is a problem.

"We've done an analysis of the problem we face. In a nutshell, the strategy's four-fold.

We know who it is we're dealing with, we're going to take them on and we're going to take them down
Kenny MacAskill
Justice Minister

"It's about diverting people from becoming involved, disrupting these crime gangs, deterring people from becoming involved and ultimately making sure we detect them and bring them to account.

"With the four 'D's, we're bringing out a new strategy, additional resources, we know who it is we're dealing with, we're going to take them on and we're going to take them down."

The serious organised crime taskforce meets every three months to review progress in the drive against criminal gangs.

Its research revealed that 367 serious organised crime groups, involving over 4,000 individuals, are operating across the country with no police force area of the country immune from the threat.

The analysis also showed that 9 out of 10 are involved in drug crime, and over half the groups have access to firearms.

Serious Organised Crime Groups (SOCG) by force area
Highland 25
Grampian 16
Tayside 29
Fife 24
Central 15
Strathclyde 152
Lothian 35
Dumfries 6

Strathclyde Chief Constable Stephen House said: "The additional resources will start to make a real difference, particularly as we now have better understanding of the extent of serious and organised crime across Scotland through the mapping project.

"Policing will use better knowledge and more resources to do things differently.

"Tackling serious organised crime will be a priority for all forces, and we will mobilise and pool our resources to prioritise action against those causing most harm.

"Some of these will use specialist resources or covert techniques, but to be successful I believe that we also need to combine these along with having more community-based police officers using basic policing tactics on the street."

Director General of the SCDEA Gordon Meldrum added: "My objective has always been to ensure that we don't just chase organised criminals, we get ahead of them.

"In pursuit of this goal, knowledge is power.

"Today, thanks to the ground-breaking work of our mapping initiative, the balance of power has shifted a little in our favour.

"Our collective knowledge on the scale and threat of serious organised crime in Scotland is greater than ever, and we are now putting that to use in the protection of the public."

New figures have shown that more than £6m in cash and assets was seized from criminals in the past year, bringing the total recovered since proceeds of crime legislation came into force six years ago to £27m.

Lord Advocate Elish Angiolini said: "Let these figures be a warning that those who seek to profit from crime will be caught and prosecuted and will lose the material or financial benefits gained through their crimes."



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