Select Committee on Northern Ireland Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Supplementary Memorandum submitted by The Police Service Northern Ireland


(a)  What human (measured in terms of full-time personnel) and financial resources are available to the Organised Crime Task Force, through the Police Service Northern Ireland?

  The OCTF does not have direct responsibility for operational resources. It brings together senior representatives of law enforcement and other agencies in Northern Ireland to agree strategic priorities for a multi-agency approach to tackling serious and organised crime. PSNI is represented at OCTF by Assistant Chief Constable, Crime Department, and Detective Superintendent, Organised Crime Co-ordination Unit.

  PSNI is also represented on a number of OCTF sub groups: Detective Superintendent and Inspector, Organised Crime Co-ordination Unit sit on the Co-ordination Sub Group; Detective Superintendent Economic Crime Bureau sits on the Legal Sub Group; Chief Superintendent, Deputy Chief Information Officer sits on the Publicity Sub Group; Detective Superintendent and Inspector, Organised Crime Co-ordination Unit, Director and Assistant Director, Analytical Services sit on the Analysis and Assessment Sub Group.

  The PSNI is a full and active partner in OCTF and takes the lead on a number of key areas, including the 2001-02 strategic priority areas of drugs, extortion and money laundering. Within PSNI, work against organised crime targets is carried out at headquarters, regional and local levels. PSNI have a Detective Superintendent and an Inspector working full time to co-ordinate the PSNI response both internally and with other agencies. In addition, a team of analysts and support staff work exclusively on organised crime, both in support of operational activity and to provide strategic assessments for the OCTF.

(b)  How many PSNI staff are wholly or mainly engaged in work against terrorist organised crime, and how does this compare to human resources allocated to tackling "ordinary" organised crime in Northern Ireland?

  Under the auspices of the Organised Crime Task Force, the work against organised crime involves a multi-agency approach tackling specific areas of criminality, regardless of paramilitary affiliations. It should also be borne in mind that the main motivating factor for involvement in organised crime is usually the generation of substantial profits or gain. Organised crime cuts across organisational boundaries and it is often the case that paramilitary-backed groups will work with non-paramilitary groups as well as with paramilitary groups from the opposite side of the community in order to maximise financial gain. It is not possible, therefore, to disaggregate work against paramilitary and non-paramilitary organised crime groups.

  Examples of manpower deployed on multi-agency operations against organised crime include:

    —  05/12/01:  operation against fuel smuggling and money laundering (32 planned searches led to the arrest of 10 individuals, nine of whom were charged with money laundering and excise evasion offences) involved 554 personnel of which: 248 PSNI officers, 156 military personnel, 150 HMC&E.

    —  08/11/01:  largest ever United Kingdom seizure of smuggled cigarettes (42 million cigarettes worth £9 million) involved nearly 100 personnel of which: 68 PSNI officers, 30 HMC&E

    —  28/10/01:  raid of Nutts Corner market recovered £80,000 worth of counterfeit clothing involved 38 PSNI personnel.

(c)  How does the answer to (b) above compare to the allocation of resources to the anti-racketeering response when the NIO Terrorist Finance Unit and the RUC C1/3 squad were in existence in 1996?

  Meaningful comparison cannot be made in this context, as the role of the TFU, C1(3) and the resources currently available to tackle organised crime are fundamentally different. The TFU and C1(3)'s focus was operational whereas OCTF is strategic in nature. Since 1996, the nature of policing in Northern Ireland has changed, with the emphasis gradually shifting towards organised and volume crime. The structure of PSNI has been adapted to allow for this change. The introduction of new legislation such as the Proceeds of Crime (Northern Ireland) Act in 1996 and the Terrorism Act in 2000 has also allowed law enforcement and other agencies new measures to tackle criminality.

(d)  How many of the 78 organised crime groups identified in the OCTF threat assessment have been the subject of active financial investigation in the past 12 months? When did each investigation start and how many officers have been engaged in each investigation over the past 12 months (measured in terms of full-time personnel or working days per case)?

  As stated in (b) above, organised crime is dealt with using a multi-agency approach which targets areas of criminality. Within each area, groups have been prioritised and financial disclosures are closely monitored to identify any irregular activity involving the groups or crime types. All organised crime investigations will involve examining the finances of a group or individuals.


  The Proceeds of Crime Order was enacted in 1996. The first prosecutions did not follow for 18 months to two years although restraint orders were applied for during that time. In general, courts shall make a confiscation order in respect of realisable assets and issue a certificate of realisation. For the remainder confiscation orders are made in the six months after conviction and may have a period of up to three years to enforce. The Courts Service is responsible for enforcing orders and, to date, very few confiscation orders have expired. The Assets Recovery Agency will have responsibility to enforce collection.

  The PSNI C1(6) Economic Crime Bureau deals with all suspicious financial transaction reports which relate to Northern Ireland and provides financial profiles on suspects which have been requested by Senior Investigating Officers. It is currently handling a number of investigations.

(e)  How many restraint orders have been made in each of the years:

    (i)  1998-99: 9

    (ii)  1999-2000: 12

    (iii)  2000-01: 7

    (iv)  2001 (to 31/12): 4

(f)  How much has been ordered to be confiscated in each of the periods cited in (e) above?

    (i)  1998-99: £119,590

    (ii)  1999-2000: £204,385

    (iii)  2000-01: £200,798

    (iv)  2001 (to 31/12): £318,771

(g)  How much of the amounts ordered to be confiscated has been recovered in each of the periods cited in (e) above?

  The police have no role in the enforcement of confiscation orders.

January 2002

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