Last year I highlighted a particularly depressing and lightweight evidence session held by the Defence Select Committee on national security and resilience. This session has been well and truly surpassed by the following evidence session. Sean O’Neill, Crime Editor at The Times describes the scene from the committee room:
So hard being an MP these days, so much to remember. Where did I put the receipt for those silk cushions? What’s the name of that moat-cleaning firm again? There’s hardly any time to get oneself ready for the dreary day-to-day stuff like, say, the appearance of SOCA’s big cheeses before the Home Affairs Select Committee. So we were treated this morning to the usual string of half-baked, ll-prepared questions without anyone landing a glove on Sir Stephen Lander and Bill Hughes. Best of all was – “These Afghan money-launderers, Sir Stephen, were they British?”.
In the midst of it all, your humble correspondent (who has written the odd story about SOCA) was referred to as Sam while SOCA’s chairman was variously called Mr Lander and even Saint Stephen. Meanwhile, the confused picture of organised crime in Britain emerged even more confused. SOCA, it seems, is happy with ACPO’s assessment of 2,800 criminal gangs active in the UK but it prefers to use its own figure of 4,000 individuals involved in organised crime. Even by our maths that’s fewer than two people in every gang.