Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

200 the Number of Gangs Who Are Driving London's Organised Crime Boom; SENIOR MET OFFICER SAYS POLICE MUST BE 'SMARTER' TO TACKLE EXPLOSION OF UNDERWORLD NETWORKS

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

200 the Number of Gangs Who Are Driving London's Organised Crime Boom; SENIOR MET OFFICER SAYS POLICE MUST BE 'SMARTER' TO TACKLE EXPLOSION OF UNDERWORLD NETWORKS

Article excerpt

Byline: JUSTIN DAVENPORT

SCOTLAND YARD detectives are targeting nearly 200 gangs driving a multibillion-pound boom in organised crime in London.

The extent of their operations is revealed in research by Yard analysts.

They have identified at least 193 organised criminal networks operating in the capital.

The gangs range from virtually "untouchable" international organisations to chaotic Yardie-style gangsters.

Today the Met's deputy assistant commissioner, John Yates, said the rising number of gangs meant police had to become "smarter" in tackling them.

"Our whole aim will be to take out networks of criminals rather than trying to tackle them for a particular crime," said Mr Yates, head of the serious and organised crime department. "This means that rather than waiting for them to commit the perfect offence and catch them with the [pounds sterling]100,000 drugs haul, we have to go after them for whatever we can and tackle them on every level - whether that's drug smuggling or VAT fraud."

Police should put more emphasis on confiscating criminal assets under the Proceeds of Crime Act and even use anti- social behaviour orders, he said.

Mr Yates hit out at government targets for crime which were "skewing" the fight against organised gangs.

He said a large proportion of his 3,000 detectives' time was taken up tackling " highrisk" incidents such as kidnappings and threats to people's lives which never feature in crime statistics.

The Met's analysis shows gangs range from highly professional groups operating along the lines of multinational businesses to individual-crime families living lavishly with no visible means of support.

"The only common factor is profit," Mr Yates said. " Different groups will collaborate if they see money in it. They are looking for the most profit for the least risk."

He said some gangs had turned from smuggling in class A drugs to cannabis after the drug was downgraded, believing there was less chance of being caught.

Mr Yates also warned of an increasing "criminality gap" in which a middle tier of organised criminals was escaping the notice of police.

The top gangs - about two per cent of the total - are being tackled by national agencies such as HM Revenue and Customs and the National Crime Squad, while police target individuals. But there are gangs in London which are untouched.

"These are drug dealers who are surveillance-conscious," said Mr Yates.

"You need professional operations with sophisticated surveillance to target them. …

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