Battle against “chronic and corrosive” organised crime.

The head of the UK’s National Crime Agency has warned that Britain risks losing the fight against organised crime unless police forces receive significant new funding.

Ahead of this week’s launch of the annual strategic assessment into the impact of organised crime the NCA’s director general, Lynne Owens, said the threat from organised crime groups was at unprecedented levels saying: “People should understand that serious and organised crime kills more of our citizens every year than terrorism, war and natural disasters combined.”

In a rare political intervention, the head of an agency argued that without significant investment the UK’s forces would fall further behind the criminals exploiting encrypted communications technology and  the anonymity that the dark web afforded them.

Lynne Owens said “Against a backdrop of globalisation, extremism and technological advances, serious and organised crime is changing fast, and law enforcement needs significant new investment to help combat it”.

The NCA assessment maintains that transnational criminal networks, the exploitation of technological improvements and “old-style violence” is allowing serious crime gangs to “dominate communities”. The assessment, described as the most comprehensive yet by the NCA, will also chart the rise of poly-criminality where organised groups operate in several illegal trades such as drugs, firearms and human trafficking. Last year the agency mapped 4,629 OCGs (organised crime groups) inside the UK with tens of thousands of members and says the threat has since continued to grow.