Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster has written to the government over concerns about organised crime groups linked to exempt housing.
The PCC says he is concerned the link between the gangs and exempt housing is not understood or recognised by government. He has written to Housing and Planning Minister, Rachel Maclean asking her to take the issue seriously ahead of an upcoming consultation.
He said: “I want to ensure the consultation tackles all the challenges exempt accommodation presents. There are of course a broad range of issues associated with exempt accommodation. They are well documented and include a lack of adequate care by providers of exempt accommodation.
“However, I am concerned the role of organised crime is not fully acknowledged, recognised or understood.
“It is for that reason I wanted to draw this to the government’s attention, to ensure that it is not inadvertently missed, when the consultation is launched and the standards and licensing regulations are drafted and implemented.”
Mr Foster said the prevalence of organised crime groups is supported by a wealth of evidence, with West Midlands Police previously stating it has “concerns that there are considerable opportunities for criminals to generate and launder money” and noted that officers had worked with the Midlands Regional Organised Crime Unit, to identify and disrupt gang activity in exempt accommodation.
“Gangs use exempt housing to diversify their criminal portfolio. They can also register a new company in as little as 24 hours for as little as £12, with no vetting or checks completed. This means that even if organised criminals are disrupted, they can quickly and cheaply start again under a new name.
“Preventing, tackling and reducing crime is my top priority. I therefore want to ensure the Act, comprehensively deals with the organised crime links referred to above with thorough vetting of owners.
“Whilst this will prevent organised crime and protect the public, I also believe robust standards will be of great benefit to the taxpayer, because over £220 per week per tenant, is claimed from the Department of Work and Pensions, some of which is going straight into the hands of organised criminals.”Back to News Archive