Preventing Hartlepool succumbing to organised crime

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Efforts to prevent people being drawn into the world of organised crime are set to be stepped up.

A report that will be considered by the Safer Hartlepool Partnership tomorrow says there is currently no co-ordination locally to the ‘prevent’ element of a national serious and organised crime strategy.

Certain individuals may be particularly at risk of being drawn into serious and organised crime

Denise Ogden, director of regeneration and neighbourhoods

It concerns efforts to stop people getting involved in serious crime or being exploited by it.

The report on the issue says while there is some work being undertaken in the partnership to tackle serious and organised crime, there is currently no co-ordinated response to the prevent strand of the serious and organised crime strategy across Cleveland.

Report author Denise Odgen, Hartlepool Borough Council’s director of regeneration and neighbourhoods, said: “This is particularly important as some Organised Crime Groups (OCGs) are extremely well organised with high levels of capability that can run networks across regional, national, and international borders.

“Organised crime groups have also moved away from just being involved in traditional organised crime activity such as drug trafficking, to having multiple type operations, where one element often funds or re-inforces another.”

Crime gangs are said to be getting more involved in money laundering using alternative banking platforms, greater used of IT and the internet and using front companies which act as “a veil of legitimacy over a criminal enterprise”.

The report adds: “Certain individuals may be particularly at risk of being drawn into serious and organised crime such as vulnerable young people and adults; those with access to criminal networks through family relationships; those feeling alienated from broader society due to poverty and disadvantage; and professionals with specialist skills.”

In response, and after talks between regional community safety leaders and police, it is planned to form a small working group to improve preventative co-ordination.

It would involve the creation of a co-ordinated action plan, aim to improve understanding of local organised crime networks and consider how existing or new interventions can prevent individuals from being drawn into serious and organised crime.

The group will report into the strategic Cleveland CONTEST Group which oversees serious and organised crime enforcement.

Tomorrow’s Safer Hartlepool Partnership meeting takes place at 10am in Hartlepool Civic Centre and is open to the public.