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New Clause 2 - Regional organised crime task forces

Part of Crime and Courts Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:15 am on 12th February 2013.

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Photo of Paul Goggins Paul Goggins Labour, Wythenshawe and Sale East 11:15 am, 12th February 2013

I am encouraged by what the Minister said about the regional organised crime units. It is good to hear about their work and it is good to hear that they will continue under the National Crime Agency to be a major focus for organising law enforcement efforts.

I will make three points. First, I do not intend to press the new clause. The Minister is right; the issue needs to be left to the discretion of local arrangements, because what works in one area may not work in another. In the north-west of England, which is my neck of the woods, we would have to debate what we meant by “region”, because in Manchester we would think of ourselves as being the Manchester city region, but in terms of organised crime, law enforcement would want to look at what was happening on Merseyside as well as in Manchester. There would be debate about the appropriate regional level for an organised crime taskforce.

Secondly, as the National Crime Agency begins its work, once the law is enacted and we move into the new phase, it is important that the regional units look to broaden the partnerships and do not just leave it to law enforcement. The units should try to engage with local authorities, the private sector and others who know about the impact of organised crime, whether it be on their business or on local communities. There has to be breadth to those partnerships, and I hope the Minister will take that forward in any discussions that he and his ministerial colleagues have with Keith Bristow and others at the National Crime Agency, as well as at local policing level too.

Thirdly, it is the important job of the units and local police forces to ensure that public attention is drawn to the causes and impacts of organised crime. I gave the example of a cut-price counterfeit DVD seeming an attractive proposition for somebody who is fairly hard-up, but the money goes into the hands of organised criminal gangs. We have to get that message across to people at community level. Many of the good community leaders in community safety groups and so on should be brought into that work where possible.

I hope that the Minister and his colleagues, in discussions with the NCA, will take forward those issues about partnership and public awareness. Once again, they  show that organised crime cannot be left to one level alone. It operates at many levels where the system—our law enforcement agencies and others—needs an appropriate framework to fight back. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the motion.