Top detective speaks as Wiltshire Police launches anti-organised crime campaign
DETECTIVES have drawn up a list of Swindon and Wiltshire’s 19 most wanted organised criminals – including everyone from drug dealers to slavers.
And the man in charge of tackling organised crime said his officers would leave no stone unturned to bring the gangsters to heel, including going after them for parking infractions if necessary.
Det Supt Steve Kirby, Wiltshire Police’s new head of crime, said: “If your organised crime group can’t be caught for their traditional crimes – if they’re parking illegally you can target them.”
The tactic is one made famous in the 1930s when the authorities snared notorious Chicago gangster Al Capone for tax evasion. The crime boss was linked to everything from murders and kidnappings to brothel keeping and illegal gambling.
Mr Kirby, who cut his teeth as a detective in Kent and led the ill-fated police probe into accusations of sexual impropriety against former prime minister Sir Ted Heath, said the nature of organised crime in Wiltshire ranged widely.
Top of mind for most people were the gangs dealing drugs – ranging from Albanian mafia using the M4 to run cocaine to Bristol to the London street gangs moving out of the capital to sell drugs in Swindon, Trowbridge and Chippenham.
“What is serious organised crime?” Mr Kirby said. “Whilst most people consider that to be organised crime groups it’s not just OCGs. It’s modern slavery and human trafficking. It could be nail bars and car washes. It could be serious acquisitive crime like ATM theft, serious organised burglary or plant theft.”
Specialist detectives mapped the biggest organised criminals in the county, ending up with a list of 19 individuals and groups that every officer should know. That was important, Mr Kirby said. Beat bobbies, the eyes and ears of the force, needed to be able to flag up potential links between crimes they saw on their streets and organised crime.
“If you turn the stone you’re going to see some serious criminality,” the senior detective said.
Mr Kirby, who like the characters in TV favourite Line of Duty had stints in the anti-corruption squad, welcomed recent government investment in the National Crime Agency and local organised crime squads.
But he called on the public to keep their eyes peeled for potential signs of organised crime, reporting concerns about drug dealing and modern slavery.
Wiltshire Police had launched a new campaign, called Project Optimise, aimed at raising awareness of serious organised crime. It came in the same week police stepped up their efforts to tackle County Lines drug gangs, executing 10 warrants on properties across Swindon.
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