May 26, 2021

NCA releases 2021 annual serious and organized crime threat assessment

On May 25, 2021, the National Crime Agency (NCA) released its 2021 National Strategic Assessment (NSA) of Serious and Organized Crime to report on the threat posed by organized crime in the UK, derived from intelligence gathered from law enforcement, government and the private sector.  In large part, according to the NCA, offenders have moved online due to Covid-19 restrictions to use emerging technologies, not only to commit crimes but also avoid detection. 

The NCA reports that ransomware attacks increased in frequency and impact with fraud losses estimated at close to £3 billion for UK individuals and businesses.  The dark web also continues to be a medium used by offenders to trade illegal commodities such as firearms and drugs, while the pandemic may have accelerated the use of cryptocurrencies to launder funds in part because Covid-19 restrictions made it harder to move cash.  The use of technology in the online exploitation of children also continued to grow last year at an alarming rate despite significant operational and policy responses; however, the NCA determined that it protected nearly 10,000 children in the first nine months of 2020/2021 and arrested more than 7,000 offenders.

The NCA also reportedly had one of its most successful years for disrupting key threats, including Operation Venetic, one of the UK’s largest law enforcement operations involving the takedown of EncroChat, an encrypted communications platform that was used exclusively by criminals, and led to 1,550 arrests, the seizure of 5.8 tons of drugs, almost £57 million in criminal cash, and 115 firearms. There was also a 7 percent increase in the number of rescued human trafficking victims last year, with 701 victims brought to safety by the agency compared to 657 the year before.  Organized Immigration Crime arrests were also up last year with the agency reporting 103 arrests, up from 69 the year before.  

NCA Press Release | NCA – National Strategic Assessment of Serious and Organized Crime