This chapter explores the nature of the response made by the police in England and Wales 1 to transnational organised crime. In doing so it focuses on policing activity in this area rather than formal police structures or the legal provisions which support transnational policing. The justification for this approach is that these formal organisational and legal structures do not in themselves adequately reveal the nature of the strategies that the police use. Policing is defined not by how the police are organised or by what they could or should do but rather by their actions, or as Manning (2000:182) has put it: 'Without analysis of dynamic policing transactions, one is left with stark formalism and typologies with are intellectually impoverished.'
The strategic response made by the police service to transnational organised crime has not been explicit but has been embedded in two wider strategic developments; the transnationalisation of policing, much of which has occurred independently of any development which specifically relates to organised crime, and developments in the policing of organised crime, many of which have been unconnected to any transnational dimension it may have.
The transnationalisation of policing predates present concerns about organised crime and has been directed as much towards the wider social role of the police as it has towards a strictly law enforcement agenda (Sheptycki, 1998:492). This has led to the establishment of a multitude of formal transnational policing organisations, from those concerned with the management of policing, such as the International Association of Chiefs of Police, those with an explicit law enforcement function, such as Europol and Interpol, to those with exclusively fraternal aims, such as the International Police Association. Underlying these formal organisations is an extensive network of informal contacts which have been built up as a result of joint operations, training courses, seminars and peace-keeping missions. While policing may not be the most exclusive club in the world, it is arguably one of the largest.
The nature of organised crime in the UK, and the most appropriate means of policing it, is as much a contested area amongst police officers as