Minister backs efforts to counter organised crime

Preventing current and emerging threats

SOCT Connference Summerlee

Cabinet Minister for Justice Michael Matheson was the guest speaker at a special conference aimed at tackling Serious Organised Crime in Scotland.

North Lanarkshire Council hosted the Serious Organised Crime Prevention Course (SOCPC) which highlighted practical measures businesses and public sector bodies can take to protect their organisations against the threat posed by organised crime groups.

Held at Summerlee Heritage Museum, this was the first time event has taken place through a local authority. The SOCPC was organised by the council in partnership with Police Scotland and the Scottish Government.

The conference provided an opportunity for businesses, Government, NHS, Police, Fire Service and other Public and Voluntary Sector organisations to listen to expert advice on how to protect their organisations against the threats posed by organised crime groups in areas including cybercrime, money laundering, human trafficking and fraud prevention.

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said: "This week's fraud prevention course is part of a range of activity being taken forward as part of Scotland's Serious Organised Crime Strategy. The overarching aim of the Strategy is to reduce the harm caused by serious organised crime and work is underway to ensure that the public sector is more aware of these threats and takes steps to become more resilient.

"It is crucial that we all become more aware of the threat from serious organised crime, report it and take all appropriate steps to mitigate the risks it poses. We must cut off what it needs to thrive and survive - people, money, information, access to contracts and licences. We all suffer from its impact. It is not victimless and we all need to step up and play our part."

Industry experts from Police Scotland, Edinburgh Napier University and the Scottish Business Resilience Centre took part in highlighting meaningful prevention measures for businesses.

Chief Superintendent John McKenzie from Police Scotland Safer Communities said: "As the world evolves and changes, so do the threats and risks facing businesses across Scotland. Criminals will exploit any opportunity to fraudulently obtain money or power or control, be that through cybercrime, human trafficking or exploiting vulnerabilities.

"Organisations have a corporate responsibility to ensure their workforce is well informed and well prepared to identify and speak up when they sense something isn't right; whether that's a suspicious email, an unusual phone call or activity which seems out of the ordinary. By ensuring organisations are aware of the risks, they can put mitigation measures in place to protect their business, their staff and their reputation and prevent fraudsters from infiltrating their networks.

"I welcome this event and am encouraged by the level of participation and interest in what is an increasingly important matter for all of us."

Robert Steenson, Assistant Chief Executive of North Lanarkshire Council said: "We were delighted to assist Police Scotland and the Scottish Government in hosting this conference. Organised crime poses a serious threat to businesses, the public sector and the voluntary sector.

"These groups will attempt to infiltrate any target they can make money from. That may involve drugs, money laundering, people trafficking, counterfeit goods, cybercrime or trying to obtain high value public sector contracts.

"Organised crime is a real and present danger in many communities and business sectors. This course provided a great opportunity for businesses to be aware of current and emerging threats and the preventative measures which can be taken."

Councillor Angela Feeney, Convener of NL Community Safety partnership said: "We are pleased to take an active role in assisting the police and public sector to tackle the scourge of organised crime. Local authorities have a big role to play through our licensing, procurement and trading standards teams. Members of the public can unwittingly have dealings with organised crime groups and we need to take action to stop this happening."

Anyone concerned about organised crime should contact Crimestoppers anonymously on: 0800 555 111.

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