United Kingdom Security Threats

Data and information about security threats from the black market in the United Kingdom. Security data and threat information collected from government agencies, news articles and other public information sources.

According to data released by the Office for National Statistics, the prostitution market in the United Kingdom is worth $8.8 Billion, and the illegal drugs market in the UK is worth $7.3 Billion.

The ONS calculates that there are  58,000 prostitutes working across the entire United Kingdom.

(Number of prostitutes in the world.)

The two activities contribute to just under 1 percent of the total economic output of the UK.

Source:  “National Accounts Articles – Impact of ESA95 Changes on Current Price GDP Estimates,” Office for National Statistics, May 29, 2014, page 4.

Source:  Joshua Abramsky & Steve Drew, “Changes to National Accounts:  Inclusion of Illegal Drugs and Prostitution in the  UK National Accounts,” Office for National Statistics, May 29, 2014, page 19.

Customs officials in Ireland broke up a counterfeit vodka operation that was managed by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) that is estimated to have been a multimillion euro moonshine operation.

In a raid by Custom agents, nearly 1110,000 bottles caps, 400,000 fake labels of popular vodka brands, 500 cardboard boxes and a bottling plant was seized in May 2014.

Intelligence officials state that the IRA is potentially bringing in fake alcohol from Eastern Europe, and is filling up empty bottles with counterfeit alcohol. IRA members collected empty spirit bottles from bars and pubs across Ireland and bring them back to the operations center. There, the bottles are washed and the new labels and bottle tops are attached. The new fake bottles of vodka are then sold to bar owners and vendors across Ireland and the United Kingdom. The moonshine bottles, known as Provo vodka, is readily available across Northern Ireland and is often sold at places where smuggled cigarettes are also available.

The vodka labels discovered by security officials included Smirnoff and Stolichnaya.

Source:  Jim Cusack, “IRA moonshine operation smashed by Customs officers,” Independent, May 25, 2014.

A 10 day crackdown against counterfeit drugs coordinated by Interpoal in May 11 to 21, 2014 lead to 8.4 million doses of fake drugs.

237 people were arrested worldwide and 10,603 websites that were selling counterfeit medicines were shut down.

Fake pills being sold to the public included diet pills ad controlled pharmacy pills such as diazepam, anabolic steroids and erectile dysfunction pills.

In the United Kingdom, security agents seized fake drugs worht $31.3 Million (£18.6 Million). 72 percent of the counterfeit drugs seized in Britain were made in India, followed by 11 percent from China.

(Additional counterfeit drugs statistics.)

Source:  Ben Hirschler, “Fake medicines worth 18.6 million pounds seized in global crackdown,” Reuters, May 22, 2014.


According to statistics reported by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, there were 230,845 cases of fraud record during the 2013/2014 fiscal year in Britain. The figures averages out to over 630 cases of fraud being reported each day.

The number of fraud cases reported was 89 percent higher than the previous fiscal year, when 122,240 cases of fraud were reported.

Security officials state that nearly 70 percent of all fraud cases involves some sort of cyber element.  5 years ago, the cyber element involves roughly 40 percent of all fraud cases.

Pure cyber crime cases, such as hacking or computer virus attacks on companies, increased to 22,315, nearly double the 11,523 attacks recorded in the previous fiscal year. 494 companies reported that there computer servers were breached.

Nearly 6,000 people also reported to the police that their Facebook profiles have been hacked. Security officials state that most of these cases involved id thieves attempting to collect personal data.

Cyber crime costs Britain’s economy up to $45 Billion (£27 Billion ) a  year.

(See all statistics about crime in the UK.)

Source:  Justin Davenport, “Seven out of 10 frauds are now cyber crimes, police chief warns,” London Evening Standard, April 28, 2014.

In 2013,  criminal justice programs in Scotland identified a total of 99 people who were referred to agencies as potential human trafficking victims. Out of that total, 22 victims were under the age of 18.

The number of human trafficking victims in Scotland is increasing based on previous data. During a two year period from April 2009 to November 2011, a total of 74 peopel, with 19 being children, were identied as trafficking victims in Scotland.

(See all human trafficking statistics.)

Source:  Reevel Alderson, “Bill to make Scotland ‘hostile’ for people traffickers,” BBC News, March 17, 2014.

Over 129,500 people were recorded as victims of identity theft in the United Kingdom in 2013, according to reports to criminal justice programs. The id theft cases accounted for over 60 percent of all fraud cases in the country, according to a fraud prevention service.

Over 90 percent of identity theft involving plastic card accounts were committed on the Internet.

Criminals targeted credit cards the most, with credit card fraud accounting for 30 percent of all frauds, an increase from 24 percent in 2012. Mortgage fraud in the UK also increased by 26 percent, and loan fraud increased by 55 percent in 2013.

(Prices of online fraud and cyber crimes.)

Source:  Warwick Ashford, “Identity theft linked to 60% of UK fraud in 2013,” ComputerWeekly, March 4, 2014.

An article by the Daily Express in the UK reported on the black market trade in valuable and rare orchids, and the prices that buyers purchase these flowers.

A rare Lady’s Slipper orchid, which is so rare that it is given police protection, was found on a golf course in the North of England. The flower was once thought to be extinct. It has been difficult to reintroduce the flower in other areas, creating a high demand for the flower. The flower reportedly can be bought for $8,358 (£5,000) each.

The Gold of Inabalu orchid can only be found in Malaysia, is sold for $5,850 (£3,500).

Peruvian orchids, which were discovered in 2001, were found to have be available for sale in the United States for $11,701 (£3,500).

The plant and flower trade is increasing in popularity around the world, leading to an increase in illegal cutting of flowers and other thefts. In the United Kingdom, theft from private gardens increased by 20 percent between 2008 and 2013.

(Prices of exotic animals for sale.)

There are 36,000 endangered plants and species around the world. Nearly 30,000 are from the orchid family.

The legal plant trade generates about $15 Billion (£9 Billion) a year.

Source:  Adrian Lee, “The black market for green fingers: Illegal trade in rare plants reaches startling scale,” Daily Express, February 18, 2014.

Statistics from criminal justice programs across the United Kingdom reported that 1,746 people were identified as potential human trafficking victims in 2013, an increase of 47 percent from 2012. The victims of human trafficking in the UK came from 112 different countries. The countries with the highest victims were Vietnam, the United Kingdom, and Albania.

1,122 of the potential victims were female. 450 were children.

90 of the trafficking victims were from the United Kingdom, with 63 of them being children.

(More human trafficking statistics.)

Source:  “UK child sex abuse trafficking doubles – National Crime Agency,” BBC News, February 18, 2014.

The European Commission for Home Affairs released a study that found the European Union loses at least $162 Billion (€120 Billion) to corruption each year.

More than 75 percent of citizens in EU member states believe that corruption is widespread in their country. More than half also stated that they felt corruption was increasing in their country.

The top countries where citizens expected to pay bribes to officials were in Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia. In these countries, between 6 to 29 percent of people surveyed reported that they had either been asked for a bribe or was expected to pay a bribe within the last year. In many of the incidents, the bribes were prevalent in the healthcare industry. An example was previously reported in about the corruption in Romania’s healthcare industry.

The lowest rate of bribes were reported in the United Kingdom, where less than 1 percent reported that they either paid a bribe or were expected to.

In a survey of businesses, four out of 10 companies stated that corruption was an obstacle to doing business in the EU.

(More on the effects of corruption.)

Source:  “Corruption across EU ‘breathtaking’ – EU Commission,” BBC News, February 3, 2014.

According to various media reports, women who are pregnant in the United Kingdom are buying abortion pills at online websites that sell the pill on the black market.

The women are paying $128 (£78) for an abortion pill that they buy from websites. The abortion pills are sold by East Asian organized crime gangs selling the pills online.

In 2013, authorities shut down over 1,200 websites that were illegally selling medicines and pills to customers in the United Kingdom.

Health agencies have stated that buying abortion pills online can have a negative impact on a woman’s health, and may even cause death if the dosage are wrong. Women in the UK can visit abortion clinics and other public health programs for confidential appointments.

The sale of abortion pill is not just concentrated in the UK. Women in the United States also buy pills to induce abortions from black market sources as well. Women in Texas have been reported buying an abortion pill for $40 on the Mexican border.

(Additional statistics about prescription drug abuse.)

Source:  Lizzie Dearden, “Pregnant teenage girls taking deadly black market abortion pills, investigation finds,” Independent, January 25, 2014.