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CPS announces new directorate to tackle changing nature of serious economic and organised crime

  • United Kingdom
  • Fraud and financial crime


Earlier this month the Crown Prosecution Service (“CPS”) announced the launch of the Serious Economic, Organised Crime and International Directorate (“SEOCID”) – a new team of specialists in organised and economic crime prosecutions which will work with investigators to “disrupt the emerging threats of organised criminal gangs using cyber technology”.

Costing the UK an estimated £37 billion each year, serious and organised crime is a significant threat to businesses and consumers alike.1 It also threatens the integrity and reputation of the UK’s financial system more widely, with a recent House of Commons Research Briefing estimating that the true extent of economic crime in the UK “could run to tens or hundreds of billions of pounds per year”.2

The CPS has an essential role to play here. The establishment of SEOCID is its latest move aimed at combatting the ever-evolving tactics and strategies used by organised crime groups to stay one step ahead of law enforcement. It is also part of the CPS’ wider Economic Crime Strategy 2025, announced last March, which sets out an ambitious five year-plan (including goals to bolster the skillset and tools of its people prosecuting increasingly complex economic crime, to embrace digital tools in the management of its cases and to place victims and witnesses at the heart of all of its cases). Another sign of progress made by the CPS in the past year under the strategy is the establishment of a new International Proceeds of Crime Board with various partner agencies, which strives to improve the asset recovery process.

The prosecuting agency is justified in highlighting the “changing nature of serious and organised crime”. Whilst the successes of the ruthless and often sophisticated techniques used by fraudsters and cybercriminals to trick victims into providing their personal and financial information in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic have been well-publicised, economic crime spans wider than fraud and also includes other forms of criminality (including market abuse, sanctions, bribery and corruption and laundering of the proceeds of crime) which have also evolved over time. In fact, in the eyes of the CPS’ Director of Legal Services Gregor McGill, the lines between organised criminality, fraud, money laundering and international crime are “becoming increasingly blurred” – with many of the money laundering and fraud investigations which the CPS undertakes ultimately linking back to organised crime.

SEOCID responds to these changes by bringing together the CPS’ expertise across these areas to “make the best use of specialist knowledge within different teams”. What remains to be seen is precisely how the directorate will operate in practice and whether it will better equip the CPS in its fight against organised crime.


  1. National Crime Agency, ‘Annual Plan 2021-2022 – Leading the UK’s fight to cut serious and organised crime’ <>.
  2. House of Commons Research Briefing, ‘Economic crime in the UK: a multi-billion point problem’ (10 February 2022) <>.