Six times, early this morning on BBC Breakfast’s wee Scottish insert, Scotland’s pensioners, including me, heard:
‘Crime gangs rely on vulnerable people to develop their businesses.’
On the BBC Scotland website we read:
‘[O]rganised crime is now about preying on the vulnerable, “helping” when there are welfare and benefits shortfalls.’
And in the Herald, David Leask seemed able to be more specific with a view, presumably, to alerting his typical reader:
‘GANGSTERS are preying on the financial fears of pensioners to take over their homes for drug dealing and racketeering, a major new report has discovered.’
I’m not, in any way, trying to diminish the suffering touched on here but these reports fail to tell us what we need, as citizens, to be able to evaluate the situation. Is this a large-scale problem? How many pensioners have been affected? How serious are the offenses? Is this a growing problem?
I can’t access the full research, Community Experiences of Serious Organised Crime in Scotland, but the lack of figures in the media reports and the telling inclusion of the phrase ‘Anecdotal evidence given to researchers described real situations in communities’ in the BBC website version, suggest that the report is the kind of thing that will be very useful in understanding and tackling such crime but isn’t really intended to be a measure of the scale of the problem. The lack of such essential data reminds us of the previous attempts by our loyal media to scare the ‘vulnerable’ and some pensioners, into believing that the knife and gun crime surge, evident in the non-Scottish parts of the UK, is spreading to Scotland, despite the lack of any supporting evidence. See:
These scare tactics appear not to have worked so far. See:
Returning to organised crime gangs in Scotland, there is some comparative evidence which we can use. First, on 14th May 2018, BBC Scotland’s website reported that there were 164 organised crime groups in Scotland.
Then in the early morning broadcasts, BBC Salford reported that there are more than 4 500 gangs involved. The figures from the National Crime Agency (NCA) are presumably UK-wide figures.
So, if there are only 160 gangs in Scotland yet 4 500 in the UK as a whole, then Scotland has, per capita, far fewer gangs than the rest of the UK. Indeed, Scotland has 8% of the population yet only 3.5% of the gangs.
Is it possible that fewer GANGSTERS are preying on the financial fears of fewer pensioners in Scotland than in the non-Scottish parts of the UK?