Inquiry into response to organised crime launched
An inquiry into the police response to serious organised crime has been launched just days after the government came under fire for failing to act on warnings over people trafficking.
The review will look at how all forms of serious and organised crime are tackled, including people trafficking, drugs, county lines gangs, child sexual exploitation and fraud.
The news comes less than a week after the bodies of 39 people were found in a refrigerated container on an industrial park in Essex and it emerged repeated warnings of the rising threat of people smuggling - and the routes they were using - had been made by the authorities over the last three years.
According to the National Crime Agency (NCA), there are more than 4,500 serious and organised crime groups in the UK and this type of crime costs the economy an estimated £37 billion a year.
The inquiry, the first of its kind to look at all types of serious and organised crime, will be led by former deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Sir Craig Mackey, and should be completed by spring next year, the Home Office said.
It will look at the funding needed to tackle such crimes, as well as the powers available to police in England and Wales and how operations are run, particularly the role of the NCA and serious organised crime units, as well as police forces, in a bid to make sure "they have the right governance, support and legal powers".
Home Secretary Priti Patel warned the threat from serious organised crime was "growing", with offenders becoming "more sophisticated".
Border Force officials highlighted the port city of Zeebrugge in Belgium as a key embarkation point for "clandestine arrivals" to the UK in a 2016 threat assessment.