A British Government report has revealed that at least 30,000 criminals, including teenage children are members of organized drugs, guns fraud and people smuggling networks across the nation.
According to the first detailed map of gangsters and their activity in England and Wale, it is estimated that around 4,000 gangs are costing the economy up to 40 billion pounds a year.
AdvertisementThe joint Home Office and Cabinet Office report found that people traffickers think the UK is a soft touch when it comes to getting illegal immigrants across the border.
The numbers of young people joining gangs remains "real cause for concern", the report says, with children exploited as drug runners or dealers, or used as gun "minders".
Meanwhile, difficulty in securing the convictions of the Bigs of the crime world has led to adopting the so-called "Al Capone" approach, by targeting criminals for tax evasion.
A new pilot project involving officials from Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will launch later this year aimed at increasing the number of gang bosses brought to book with tax laws.
It said criminal gangs were using new technology to commit crime, and said the recession would create "new opportunities" for organized criminals.
Acknowledging that criminal networks in Britain were "run like multi-national businesses", one police chief said a gap has developed in the past few years between the scale of organized crime and law enforcement agencies' ability to tackle it.
However ministers denied the new measures contained in the report were a tacit admission that the Government had taken its "eye off the ball".
Alan Campbell, Home Office minister, said: "This is about making sure that we have a response that keeps up with the demands in an evolving area of criminality."