Crime in the UK

News, information and statistics about black market crime in the United Kingdom. Crime data about security risks and threat assessments about crimes in the UK are collected from public criminal justice information and intelligence reports.

In the English city of Sheffield, security officers and public health programs are seeing an increase in illegal bottles of counterfeit alcohol.

In the 2011 to 2012 fiscal year, officials in the city seized 554 bottles of counterfeit alcohol. In the 2012-2013 fiscal year, the number of fake bottles seized increased to 1,470. Halfway through the 2013-2014 fiscal year, authorities have already seized 2,370 bottles of counterfeit alcohol.

Most of the fake alcohol bottles are marketed as Vodka. After studying the bottles, Trading Standards officials have determined that most of the alcohol that is used in the fake bottles are either cleaning fluids or antifreeze. With the other chemicals, the fake bottles of vodka end up being made of 57 percent alcohol.

Sheffield is not the only city in the United Kingdom facing threats from counterfeit alcohol. In Scotland, security services with HMRC seized 13,000 liters of counterfeit vodka in September 2013 alone.

Security experts state that price is a main cause for the counterfeits. For a single 70cl bottle of vodka, the duty and VAT is $14.52 (£8.89).

Source:  Brian Milligan, “Fake vodka ‘can kill you’ warning to Christmas shoppers,” BBC News, December 20, 2013.

In 2012, about 69,000 sheep were stolen from farms in Britain.

In 2010 and 2011, the costs to British farmers from animal theft increased by 170 percent, according to an insurance company.

Between the three years, a total of $676,000 worth of livestock have been stolen from farms.

The animals are stolen from farmland and then quickly slaughtered, where the meat is then sold on the black market. According to market researchers, the price of lamb have been rising in the past several years, thus creating a profitable crime for thieves. In 2009, a kilogram of lamb sold for $11.05 (£6.77). By 2013, the price has risen to $12.82 (£7.86).

Source:  “Rural thefts: On the lamb,” Economist, December 7, 2013.

The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) in the United Kingdom stated that over $482 Million (£300 Million) in artwork and antiques were being stolen across the country each year by organized crime groups.

The organization states that the costs of the stolen art is more costly than the theft of stolen cars vehicles.

Between 1991 and 2013, nearly 60,000 stolen art pieces, antiques or collectables have been registered as stolen, missing, or looted in the United Kingdom.

Source:  Emma Forde, “Criminal gangs targeting high-value works of art in UK,” BBC News, November 16, 2013.


Between April 2012 to April 2013, security services in the United Kingdom conducted over 675 seizures of wildlife items that were being trafficked into the country.

The following is a small sample of the contraband items that were seized:

  • 326 items made with ivory.
  • Rhino horn that was worth $1.6 Million (£1 Million).
  • 466 Hermann’s tortoises
  • 750 kilograms of coral form Vietnam
  • Monkey Skulls
  • A Rolls Royce upholstered with alligator skin.
  • 126,000 pots of a weight-loss pill and 15,120 pots of a sports supplement for using rare orchids as ingredients.

(More prices of animals sold on the black market.)

Source: Victoria Turk, “Bear Bile, Seahorses, and Tortoise Jelly: The UK Had a Record Year for Wildlife Busts,” Motherboard, November 16, 2013.

Drug dealers in Britain use electronic gambling machines across the nation to launder money that they earned through illegal drug sales.

According to a report in the Guardian, the dealers insert drug money into the fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) and then cash out to make it seem that drug money is gambling winnings.

The dealers are aware that gamble at least 40 percent of the money wagered in order to avoid being flagged for suspicious activities. One dealer stated that he simply puts £20 on black £20 on red, and £2 on 0, and plays until he passes the 40 percent level.

By feeding the terminals with drug money and then cashing out, the drug dealers are able to have a receipt that shows how much money was cashed out Thus, if they are ever stopped by police, the drug dealers can point to the receipt to show why they are holding so much cash.

There are 33,345 fixed-0dds betting terminals across the United Kingdom. Each one is able to process a £100 bet every 20 seconds. One machine can gross about £900 a week.

(What is money laundering? Find more examples here.)

Source:  Randeep Ramesh, “The gambling machines helping drug dealers ‘turn dirty money clean’,” Guardian, November 8 2013

According to a survey of game developers in the United Kingdom, 57 percent of developers stated that piracy is a problem for their business.

10 percent of the developers stated that stricter enforcement against piracy was the best option in dealing with the problem, while 87 percent stated that creating new business models was the best option.

67 percent of developers stated that pirating activities is much more active on Android platforms versus the iPhone. In an example, one game developers found that the game was being pirated 10 times for each copy that was being sold in the Google Play store.

Source:  Stuart Dredge, “Games piracy: 57% of UK developers say it hurts, but only 10% want legal crackdown,” Guardian, October 28, 2013.

A survey conducted in Great Britain found that one in six people use the name of their pets as passwords for their online accounts.

The most popular passwords used by British citizens were the name of their pets, their mother’s maiden name, their birth dates and their own name.

The survey conducted by Get Safe Online found that 58 percent of people in Britain do not activate the security settings on their phone and do not use passwords or pin numbers to lock their smartphone.

The average loss per victim to cyber crime was $381 (£236).

Source:  Tara Brady, “One in six people use pet name as password: Millions of British people are vulnerable to online fraudsters by using obvious codenames,” Daily Mail, October 21, 2013.

Reports from various criminal justice departments in the United Kingdom showed that there were a total of 371 children who fell victim to  human trafficking in 2012. The number of children officially registered as victims was 50 percent higher than the 234 children identified in 2011.

In 2012, the largest number of children trafficked into the UK was from Vietnam, where 95 children were from. 67 children were from Nigeria and 25 were from China. 20 British girls were also identified.

For adults, there were 786 women identified as human trafficking victims in 2012, an increase of 12 percent from the year before. 400 men were trafficking victims, an increase of nearly a third.

(Prices paid for human trafficking victims.)

Source:  Steven Swinford, “Girl smuggled into Britain to have her ‘organs harvested’,” Telegraph, October 18, 2013.

Data released by the Bank of England stated that 719,000 counterfeit banknotes were discovered and removed from circulation in 2012.

In total, there are nearly 3 billion banknotes in circulation in the United Kingdom.

(How criminals in Peru make counterfeit money with Microsoft Office.)

Source:  Penny Anderson and Jill Papworth, “How to spot a fake banknote,” Guardian, October 18, 2013.

An online brand protection firm conducted an investigation into the availability of textbooks as pirated copies on the Internet. Netnames investigated 50 popular textbooks that are used by students in the United Kingdom. Based on their findings, up to 76 percent of the titles were available as free pirated e-books.

The most pirated textbooks were in the science and engineering fields of study.

Source:  Chi Chi Izundu, “Students ‘worst’ at e-book piracy, says data monitor,” BBC News, Newsbeat, October 17, 2013.