IPA UK holds a ‘Street Gangs to Organised Crime’ seminar

09 Nov 2018


Arthur Troop envisaged a social network, to unite police officers around the world. He achieved this vision, creating fantastic opportunities to travel and meet like-minded people. As the world became a much smaller place, with international travel available to many, another unexpected benefit arose out of our international fraternity: the sharing of experience and good practice. However, with international borders becoming less of a barrier to criminals, the police also needed to become more joined up, and the IPA provides the perfect vehicle to achieve this. The ‘Street Gangs to Organised Crime’ seminar, held by Section UK at the Leicestershire Police HQ was a fantastic example.gangs 3

The day opened with our trans-Atlantic visitors, Brian Dale & Charles Ashaim, from the Portland Oregon Gang Enforcement Team. They began by saying that ‘most visitors never see the side of Portland we deal with’, which many of us could say about the cities we police. A compilation of videos posted by gang members on social media and CCTV of several carpark shootings demonstrated just how blatant some of them can be. Brian described the gangs as ‘super empowered’ saying they were not afraid to display their gang association, were armed at all times and always in packs.

Steve Knight, from the Gangmaster and Labour Abuse Authority, described his area of work as ‘slavery in its most pure form’, saying the gangmasters control lives, take their wages and keep them in captivity. The difficulty of Steve’s work is highlighted by what one worker told him; ‘I know I'm being exploited, but I can send £100 per week back to Romania. I would only get £30 back home’.

Dave Magrath spoke about organised immigration crime and its links to street gangs. He said that illegal immigration is not a victimless crime. Even without any criminality, it has a huge cost to taxpayers, through benefits and healthcare.

Mark Bullen gave a fascinating insight on Russian organised crime and their tradition of prison tattoos. All Russian criminals who have been in prison have tattoos, which used to be rarely worn by other people in Russia. The tradition began in gulags during Stalin’s reign. These are poor quality tattoos, done in prison, with ink made by burning boot soles, diluting the residue in urine and straining through a bed sheet. Mark has published a book, called Thief in Law, which provides much more detail on the tattoos and their meanings.

DS Martyn Linton, of Surrey Police, told us about the County Lines problem with travelling drug dealers. Martyn described once being on the periphery of a London gang himself, until some of his friends were involved in a murder. That was his wake up call, which led to joining the police. His work has benefited from him winning an IPA scholarship to spend three days training with the Florida Police on drug gangs.

Other speakers included West Midlands Superintendent Rich Agar, on his Operation Jigsaw youth crime project; Nathan Hancock, on the Street Doctors project, where Leicester medical students are teaching kids first aid skills to deal with street violence, and Dr Matt Hopkins, on academic perspectives of criminal gangs.

gangs 1It was a fantastic day’s programme, through which I learned an incredible amount.

A big thank you to the speakers who gave us such an interesting day.

Neil Hallam, IPA UK Editor of ‘Police World’