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Agenda item

Organised Crime

(i)              Report of the Director of Transformation and Partnerships.

(ii)             Presentation by Superintendent Kevin Weir, Durham Constabulary.



The Chairman introduced Superintendent Kevin Weir, Durham Constabulary to give an update presentation on Organised Crime (for copy see file of minutes).


Superintendent K Weir reminded Members of the approach in terms of tackling organised crime, with the Special Operations Unit, Major Crimes Unit and the work in terms of Operation Sentinel, a rebranding of what had previously been known as Operation Sledgehammer, involving three forces, as discussed in the media item.  He added that there was a lot of proactive work carried out in County Durham and Darlington, with the work being undertaken considered as national best practice, with visits from the Home Office to learn from Durham’s approach, and with Durham receiving an outstanding rating from Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS).


Members were reminded of a definition of organised crime: “organised crime can be described as serious crime planned, coordinated and conducted by people working together on a continuing basis.  Their motivation is often, but not always financial gain.  Organised criminals working together for a particular criminal activity or activities are called an organised crime group”.


Superintendent K Weir explained the types of crime undertaken by organised crime groups, including: burglary; counterfeit goods vehicle crime; drug dealing; environmental crime; fraud / computer fraud; identity theft; kidnapping; loan sharks; plant theft; prostitution; robbery; sheep rustling; shoplifting; theft; and violence.  He noted that organised crime represented a continuing and enduring threat and that the cost to the UK annually was around £37 billion.  Members noted that organised crime represented a threat to national security and had elements of intimidation and links to corruption.  It was highlighted that organised crime often involved the exploitation of the vulnerable and there was an impact on victims and wider community cohesion. 



Superintendent K Weir noted “county lines”, an issue that had been recently reported in the media, which had links to modern day slavery and child sexual exploitation, however he noted that this was more of an issue elsewhere in the country.


The Chairman thanked Superintendent K Weir for the update and noted that the subject was one the Committee had been involved in, with a Working Group that had looked at the topic.


Councillor E Mavin asked what the best way of providing the Police with information in terms of activities, for example drug dealing.  Superintendent K Weir noted that individuals could ring through to the Police Control Room, use the anonymous Crimestoppers service, or speak to Officers from their Local Beat Team.  He added that intelligence was very important, and all helped to provide a richer picture for Officers investigation activities.


Councillor J Turnbull noted an important element was to provide feedback to those providing the intelligence, and to report back to communities and for communities to be able to witness positive outcomes, referring to some areas where people felt nothing seemed to change.  Superintendent K Weir noted that there was a lot of work undertaken, and a lot of positives and agreed that perhaps they could be better promoted within communities.  He added that current up-to-date intelligence was vital and that while it may appear that there was little or no activity, he reassured Members that the Police were working hard to gather evidence, to ensure that when action was taken it was such to ensure convictions and disrupt the activities of the criminals.  The Chairman noted that in his Division there had been an issue with a particular group and that it had, at the time, felt that there was little progress.  He added that work had been progressing, with Officer gathering intelligence and building their case, and that when action was taken it had been successful and the positive effect was noted and appreciated by the community.


Councillor L Maddison asked as regards being able to contact the Police quickly when witnessing and incident, noting that by the time one had gone through the welcome message from the Chief Constable and the various options listed criminals would likely have moved on.  Superintendent K Weir noted that there was a graded response via the Police Control Room, based on a THRIVE system, ensuring the appropriate level of response and best allocation of resources.  He added that depending upon the type of incident there were several ways to contact as previously mentioned and that he understood there could be frustration, however, he emphasised it was important to continue to make those calls and provide the Police with as much intelligence as possible.  Chief Superintendent A Green added that there were a number of different responses that the Police could make, foot patrols, response cars and so on.  He added that there was some misunderstanding in terms of how the Police would tackle issues, such as drug dealers.  He noted that intelligence and evidence was vital in being able to ensure a successful operation and outcome and reiterated that the Control Room automated response was to help make best use of finite resources.  The Chairman reiterated as regards the work of the Police in his Division, with Councillors having a role as community leaders, and that information did help the Police and successful operations could include additional benefits for communities, for example through the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) where appropriate.


Councillor E Mavin noted an issue had been raised on two occasions at a Police and Communities Together (PACT) meetings and asked as regards having progress reported back. 

Superintendent K Weir noted that in some cases it would not be possible or appropriate to act immediately, as previously mentioned, to ensure the maximum impact in tackling issues there was a need to gather evidence and be able to secure convictions.


Councillor J Nicholson asked whether those organised crime groups operating within the County were from outside of the area, or existing known groups of families.  Superintendent K Weir explained that most were already known to the Police, however, “county lines” was a different phenomenon.


Councillor J Charlton asked as regards education of young people in schools in terms of organised crime groups, noting that Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) were very proactive.  Superintendent K Weir noted that educational work in this regard, in schools, colleges and businesses, was undertaken by the Organised Crime Disruption Team and while there was a lot of these type of education sessions the Police would like to do more.




That the report and presentation be noted.  


Supporting documents:


Democratic Services
Durham County Council
County Hall
County Durham
03000 269 714