Increase in businesses being offered smuggled goods
Richard Ford, Home Correspondent
Organised criminals are preying on businesses in high crime areas of the country in an attempt to persuade them to trade in stolen, counterfeit and smuggled goods, according to a Home Office report published yesterday.
Smuggled tobacco and alcohol are key products being offered to businesses particularly those operating in residential districts.
A study of three areas plagued by high levels of crime found that it was routine for businesses to be asked to trade in illegal goods.
“The survey findings suggest that receiving offers of stolen and counterfeit goods is a normal feature of business life in the high crime neighbourhoods under review”, the study said.
The report does not identify the exact districts but one is believed to be the Green Lanes ares of north London, another part of Nottingham and the third was in the west Midlands.
Almost half of businesses had been offered counterfeit goods in the previous twelve months, one third stolen goods, almost a quarter smuggled tobacco and seven per cent smuggled alcohol.
“The findings strongly suggest that for businesses in high crime reidential neighbourhoods, opportunities to play a part in criminal activities in concert with others are widespread and for some businesses very numerous indeed”, the report added.
The study found that only sixteen of the almost two hundred businesses offered illegal or smuggled goods had reported the matter to the police.
It highlights the extent to which organised crime rackets have become embedded in certain parts of the country, the hold they have on communities and the existence of a flourishing black market economy.
Yesterday’s report said that in the Turkish-Kurdish area of north London community obligations and family and friendship networks linked to a person’s country of origin are fuelling organised crime.
“Members of the community retain cultural and familial ties with their country of origin. They identify with one another and prefer to manage their affairs internally. They also fear retritubtion if they report internal problems externally”, the study said.
Drug dealing and people trafficking are being fostered because of the continuing close links with their country of origin by close ties with country of origin and the political associations of organised criminality provide the means of controlling the wider community, the report added.
When drug trafficking is thwarted, prostitution is an alternative outlet for organised crime with many brothels in the area, the report said.
Local community organisations were believed to be acting as a front for quasi political organised criminal activity and businesses are pressurised into making financial contributions to community groups.
“The extortion is represented as a contribution to the local community and its interests back home” the report said.
In the Nottingham area, the organised crime was linked to well networked white working class crime families who used high levels of violence to maintain discipline.
A number of public houses are believed to operate as the bases for organised criminal behaviour with offenders controlling the opening hours and admission of customers, the report said.
The criminals provided protection for the landlord who in return allowed them free run of the premises to take and deal in drugs, use telephones and run up large unpaid drink bills.
“There was also suggestions that publicans had colluded with organised offenders after incidents had taken place by both providing a cover for their activities and by clearing away evidence before the police arrive”, the report added.
Landlords who refuse to cooperate with criminals are forced out of business and faced a similar position if it emerged they had helped police.