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The Wages of the UK’s Political Cult of Neoliberalism

The National Strategic Assessment of Serious and Organised Crime 2018

The NSASOC 2018 presents a terrain of organised crime in the UK that is heightening its activity thereby evolving the threat it poses to the social order of the UK. The question of relevance then is the adequacy of the response of the neoliberal state driven by the political cult of neoliberalism. It is clearly apparent from the NSASOC 2018 that organised crime especially transnational organised crime poses a graver and much more dynamic threat to the social order and the State than Islamic extremist terrorism. But the response of the state and policing is far from adequate to the task in light of the nature of the threats posed. A war on terror is much more beneficial to electoral politics than the long and prolonged war in the trenches in an engagement with organised crime. The emphasis on Islamic extremism has then provided space to organised crime in the UK to evolve, expand and penetrate the social order. In the UK organised crime now commands spaces and resources that are in demand by those seeking to carry out extremist attacks. These proto-attackers are increasingly forced to seek links to organised crime to source supplies of various illicit products including counterfeit state documents and other services. The continued failure to invest in reality applicable policing that engages with organised crime especially transnational organised crime will result in linkages forged with various groups bent on violent extremism in the illicit spaces based on profit and common benefit. At present the great deterrent to form these working relationships is the hegemonic operating principle that terrorist actions are bad for business. At present the politicians of the UK and the national security apparatus are enjoying the benefits of the operational position of transnational organised crime especially in the UK and Europe. Which leaves the social order of the UK open and prone to an assault that can materialise as transnational and organised crime evolves and expands in the UK. One possible development is an alliance between an organised crime group displaced by the power relations of transnational organised crime in the UK and groups bent on terrorist attacks buttressed by activity in illicit spaces. The new order being rolled out on the ground of transnational organised crime is creating the displacement where groups are losing supply connections and space under their control with the resulting use of violence in response.

On page 8 of the NSASOC 2018 the report states: “1. Serious and organised crime affects more UK citizens, more often, than any other national security threat.” What is the response of the politicians of the UK and the national security apparatus to this reality? Apparently totally inadequate as the threat evolves unhindered. “2. The threat from SOC is increasing in both volume and complexity and will continue to do so in the short to medium term.” The failure of response that addresses the threat in its reality on the ground not on what is politically determined reality. The threat will escalate but not in the short to medium term as the UK national security apparatus is playing catch up with the most dynamic business enterprises in the world. This is just political spin on a grave reality which simply don’t impact political reality save possibly at election time. “3. The SOC victim impact is wide ranging.” The report lists as follows: victims of modern slavery and human trafficking (MSHT) stating that the scale of is “continually and gradually increasing”, recorded sexual offences against children continues to rise year on year, for the period 2016/17 firearm offences increased by 27%, drug deaths are at their highest since 1993 when records began being kept, fraud accounted for almost a third of all crimes some 4.7 million offences for the period ended march 2017, county lines drug supply networks now impact all 43 police forces in England and Wales as well as Police Scotland and the British Transport Police. In its own words the report is illustrating the effects of a reorganisation of organised crime and spaces controlled by organised crime as a direct result of the business models of transnational organised crime in the UK. The rise in drug deaths, the rise in firearm offences, the escalation of fraud offences, sexual offences against children and continued growth of MSHT illustrate a diverse and expanding illicit enterprise exercising hegemony over ever expanding spaces in the social order. The illicit drug and gun trades will singlehandedly transform the nature of the UK’s social order and it is already in train. Compared to the previous report the strategic intent is clear and the failure of response is a dereliction of duty that the citizens of the UK will pay dearly for. “4. Individuals and communities also feel the impact of SOC through violence and intimidation.” Hyperbolic political understatement to deliberately not articulate the daily cost of living in a space dominated by organised and transnational organised crime where the State and its agencies are simply visitors and the politicians remotely irrelevant to the quality of daily life. When articulated it sounds very much like life in a colony an internal colony. “5. SOC threats are increasingly interlinked. There are significant overlaps between MSHT and Organised Immigration Crime (OIC),” “there is also a strong connection between drugs supply and firearms,” Like duh is this a great revelation! There are much more strategically important operational models that could have been listed: such as illicit migrants sitting on top of the shipment of drugs and guns where you throw the migrants overboard at the first sign of danger to protect your valuable products. Then there are the victims of MSHT who are swallowers going in, then sex workers after delivering the load then cash mules on the way out. There is no single description from a single model that encompasses the diverse reality of transnational organised crime. Accept that, live with it and operationalise your response on this reality! Other than that you are just unleashing cruel jokes on the innocents of the UK. “6. OCGs (of which there were 4,629 mapped in the UK at the end of 2017) can also work together in criminal enterprises.” Again like duh. They must work together when you have powerful transnational organised crime controlling the supply of strategically important illicit products as cocaine. Those who control the gold make the rules for the illicit trades are driven by rational choices necessary to attain sustainable profit maximisation including violence and mayhem.

What is then apparent from the 2018 report is that the organised crime landscape of the UK compared to the previous report has worsened pointing to a failure of policing and political direction. Clearly neoliberal austerity and dismantling of the State is the best gift to transnational crime with the war on terrorism being the cherry on top. The failure of response driven by neoliberal austerity in the UK is being on a daily basis graphically articulated in the prison system of the UK where organised crime meets those with terrorist intentions and prison gangs are born, expand and exported from the prison pressure cooker to the external social order. The most potent indictment of the political cult of neoliberalism is the operational condition of the present UK prison system. Kool Aid for all. I daresay the UK is increasingly adopting the characteristics of a drug trafficking transition zone state. The vultures of the colonial project are certainly coming home to roost!

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