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Serious Economic, Organised Crime & International Directorate - is it just a reshuffle of resources?

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On 01 April 2022, the Crown Prosecution Service announced the immediate creation of a new team, the Serious Economic, Organised Crime and International Directorate (SEOCID). The new team was created as a part of the ‘Economic Crime Strategy 2025’

Serious and Economic Crime is big business, it is estimated to cost the UK £37 Billon a year. The public are more susceptible to more sophisticated fraudulent activity, particular in a society which post-pandemic, is slowly returning to normal life. Many of us have all had phishing text messages over the pandemic, and lots of dubious and suspicious emails.

The CPS have established the team ‘in response to the shift in how criminals operate’ and with a goal to ‘disrupt the emerging threats of organised criminal gangs using cyber technology’. In the digital age, where criminal activity largely takes place online, we are seeing that in fact, cybercrime is borderless. It does not fit neatly into ‘CPS Areas’ a more global overview is in fact needed and necessary. 

The CPS believe the new structure will:

  • Enable the CPS to ensure that they are making the most of specialist knowledge that their staff have to deliver justice, combat crime across borders and take money away from criminals
  • Earlier effective engagement with law enforcement so that the CPS are more proactive at responding to threats
  • Shape cases to achieve defined outcomes and early resolution
  • Use targeted legal tools to impact behaviour, deter future criminality, recover proceeds and compensate victims

In effect, the new team is likely to create cohesion and more joined up thinking across the CPS. Most of the people now in the SEOCID have been re-deployed from other areas of the CPS. The SEOCID is a principally a merger of the ‘International Justice and Organised Crime Division’ and the ‘Specialist Fraud Division’. According to the Solicitor General, Alex Chalk MP, in an answer to a written question to the Attorney General, the team is comprised of 394 individuals. 

The SEOCID could therefore be characterised as no more than a reshuffling of resources, however, it is possible that in fact it will lead to a more national and targeted approach at combating serious organised crime. The CPS are likely building upon their experience in the last 5 years of combatting county lines and the series of EncroChat cases (arising from Operation Venetic) which have been national and international in their scope.

In any event, it is clear that there is a concerted effort by law enforcement and prosecution agencies to shake the UK’s, and London’s, reputation as the money laundering capital of the world.

Liam Lane is a trainee solicitor at Edward Fail, Bradshaw & Waterson

Serious Economic, Organised Crime & International Directorate - is it just a reshuffle of resources?

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