Multiagency Strategy for Tackling Organised Crime Groups

Evaluating the multi-agency approach on OCGs in prisons adopted by the 2018 Serious and Organised Crime Strategy.

Full Report



This project analyses the development of innovative strategies to fight criminal networks operating inside prisons, focusing on the UK governmental multi-agency strategy against organised crime and assesses the current level of cooperation between police, prison and probation in developing common strategies, practices and policies to respond to the full range of serious and organised crime threats.

The work was co-designed with the participation of Humberside police and HMP Humber and Hull prisons. It brings together academics, police, prison officers, and CJS practitioners with specific expertise in investigating and disrupting organised crime groups (OCGs). The research team conducted 55 in-depth interviews with police, prison, and probation officers (local, regional, and national) and analysis of documentary sources.

Recommendations are provided to further strengthen cooperation and improve multi-agency practices, crime prevention and criminal network disruption.

Key findings

The prison population is highly vulnerable to organised crime due to a variety of social and environmental factors (such as the condition of confinement and the prison context). The role of data-sharing among different CJS agencies has major benefits in mitigating how this vulnerability can be exploited by OCGs.

A common data sharing system among different CJS agencies could improve the quality of the collaboration and reduce the duplication of workload. By collaborating across organisational boundaries through data-sharing, partners gain a sense of collective responsibility and common ground for action. This can give a comprehensive understanding of the impact of the OCGs within and outside prison.

The effectiveness of the multiagency strategy is highly dependent on the local and national blend of enforcement against OCGs, and this cooperation should be further strengthened.

There are benefits in the purpose and duties of the Prison Intelligence Officers (PIOs) – police officers liaising between police and prison in the HMPPS – and the role is approached flexibly. However, core tasks, priorities, responsibilities and outcomes could be further standardised to enhance effectiveness and the sharing of best practices.

Data sharing in the form of joint meetings or through the PIOs plays a vital role in liaising and building trust with the different CJS agencies and ensuring more tailored and efficient action can be enforced to tackle the expansion of OCGs.

The strategies to neutralise potential OCGs’ threats in prison should include not only traditional enforcement of disruption tools such as keeping OCGs’ individuals apart or moving them to different prison facilities, but also additional measures such as financial investigation and intelligence, to examine and disrupt serious and organised crime activities within the prison and the development of networks between prisoners and outside OCGs.

The research was conducted by Simone Santorso (University of Sussex), Alice Rizzuti (University of Hull), and Xavier L’Hoiry (University of Sheffield).

Report date: 05/08/2022.

For further information please contact Simone Santorso by email (