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Monday, 28 January 2008

new offences of directing or being involved in organised crime.

"For too long the gangsters of the criminal underworld have been able to direct their evil enterprises and operate with apparent impunity, profiting on the backs of decent hard-working Scots and their families.
Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill is proposing new offences of directing or being involved in organised crime.
A consultation on the details of any new legislation is to seek the views of law enforcement organisations and other stakeholders involved in the fight against organised crime.
When introduced the legislation's main objective would be to make it easier to convict those organised criminals who direct criminal operations.
The proposals are expected to be endorsed today at the second meeting of the Serious Organised Crime Taskforce. The Scottish Government will then develop proposals to be introduced to the Parliament at the earliest opportunity.
Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said:
"This Government has already made clear its determination to tackle serious organised crime in all its forms. That includes the criminal kingpins as well as their lieutenants and the foot soldiers who do their dirty work.
"Organised crime is a global issue and already Canada and Ireland are using the law to target the godfathers of serious organised crime. We want to learn from their experiences to help us tackle this menace to our society.
"These new offences will make it easier to convict the so called "untouchables". This Government wants to send a message to these gangsters in Scotland and further afield that there are no "untouchables" in our society.
"We will pursue these parasites with vigour and will be uncompromising in our pursuit of those who peddle drugs and indulge in other criminal activities. That is why we set up the Serious Organised Crime Taskforce which holds its second meeting today.
"We are working together with the police and other law enforcement agencies to put these criminal networks out of business."
The aim of the new offences would be to catch people either directing or being involved in organised crime and for the offence to be covered by the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
The Scottish Government will consider similar offences that are already in place in Canada and the Republic of Ireland when developing our proposals.
Canadian offence - For the purposes of the Canadian criminal code, a criminal organisation means a group, however organised that:
is composed of three or more persons in or outside Canada; and
has one of its main purposes or main activities the facilitation or commission of one or more serious offences that, if committed would likely result in the direct or indirect receipt of a material benefit, including a financial benefit, by the group or by any of the persons who constitute the group.
Irish offence - The Irish model is along similar lines and is contained in the Criminal Justice Act 2006. Organised crime is defined as an element of criminal activity that is carried out by criminal organisations which have as their main purpose the commission of one or more serious offences in order to obtain, directly or indirectly, a financial or other material benefit. The 2006 Act defines a 'criminal organisation' as a structured group composed of three or more persons acting in concert and one which is established over a period of time. A 'serious offence' means an offence for which a person may be punished by imprisonment for a term of four years or more.
Further work is required on the precise terms of the offence being proposed by the Justice Secretary and its penalties. For example, it could be framed as separate criminal offences or a statutory aggravation. It will be subject to a formal consultation process in the normal manner.
The Serious Organised Crime Taskforce was set up by the Cabinet Secretary for Justice and brings together key organisations involved in the fight against organised crime including the Crown Office, ACPOS, SCDEA, the Serious Organised Crime Agency, Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs and the Scottish Prison Service amongst others


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