The UK government is getting tough on dirty money.
The new Serious and Organised Crime, or SOC, strategy is set to be published Thursday and includes a pledge of £48 million ($61.3 million) for 2019/20 designed to target “illicit finance” that drives the networks behind organized crime.
The National Crime Agency, known as NCA and often dubbed Britain’s version of the FBI, estimates 4,600 organized crime groups operate in the UK, using violence and intimidation as they prey on vulnerable members of society, “from victims of modern slavery and human trafficking to young people suffering sexual exploitation and abuse.”
Ben Wallace, the UK’s minister for security and economic crime, will speak in central London on Thursday morning to outline how the government’s plan will build upon existing law enforcement capabilities.
“Sharp suits swan around the nation’s capital, while all along they head up networks that covertly trade millions of pounds in financial transactions online. They profit from the hidden misery and suffering of others, and it is not just their victims, but all of us who suffer the consequences,” Wallace is expected to say.
Wallace is to say: “Many serious and organized criminals think they are above the law. They think they can defy the British state. And they think they are free to act with impunity against our businesses and our way of life. They are wrong.”
The new financial boost will help bankroll the multiagency National Economic Crime Center, fund specially trained police officers to improve and coordinate fraud investigations and pay for more NCA officers, as well as improve data and intelligence assessment capabilities through the development of new technologies and further personnel training.
The crackdown will work alongside the Serious Violence strategy, launched in April, which was aimed at tackling increases in knife crime, gun crime and homicide.
The funding is in addition to an extra £21 million ($26.8 million) over the next 18 months that was promised in September by Home Secretary Sajid Javid to tackle child sexual exploitation and abuse.
The NCA says that since its formation in October 2013 to June this year, it has conducted operations that have resulted in more than 12,000 arrests in the UK and abroad.
The agency also says the targeting of criminal assets has seen £22 million ($28 million) in forfeited cash and £51 million paid as a result of confiscation orders. The group’s work has also led to the seizure of more than 1,700 guns, 1,000 other firearms, 19 tons of heroin and 335 tons of cocaine.