Who thinks that the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) , which has not yet started work, has too few powers to investigate serious organised crime like sex slave human trafficking or gun smuggling or drug smuggling and distribution ? According to the Sunday Telegraph, Prime Minister Tony Blair does, and he plans to introduce even more police legislation in the New Year, despite not having made proper use of all the existing laws, or allocating sufficient priority to the police budgets to tackle these crimes.
Why is Tony Blair undermining confidence in SOCA even before it has had a chance to prove itself in action ?
Note the lack of any apology for the failure of the NuLabour government to sign or ratify the Council for Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking of Human Beings
By Patrick Hennessy and David Harrison
Tony Blair has pledged to crack down on gangs who import sex slaves into Britain from eastern Europe.
The Government will bring forward legislation in the New Year giving police new powers to disrupt the activities of human traffickers as well as "vicious" drug and gun gangs such as the Jamaican "Yardies".
Mr Blair would like to see some of the powers now being proposed for use against terrorist suspects being available in the fight against such criminals. This could include greater use of phone-tapping, and suspects being held without charge for longer than the current 48-hour maximum.
SOCA or any Police force already have the power for unlimited phone taps against such gangs under the existing Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.
Longer detention without charge, justified on what grounds, exactly ?
Sex slaves, guns or drugs are far easier to investigate than "indirect incitement or glorification of terrorism any where in the world" - there is plenty of physical evidence to be seized, since these criminal gangs have to interact with their customers. Their places of business should already be known to the local Police, and any properly planned raid will yield plenty of evidence upon which to charge and prosecute the criminals.
His pledge comes as the Sunday Telegraph reports today on the results of an investigation into just how easy it is to "buy" young women in eastern Europe and bring them to Britain to work as prostitutes. For only €2,000 (£1,340), a pair of Romanian pimps in Bucharest agreed to sell our investigators a 19-year-old, with the papers required to travel to Britain. We passed details to the police.
About 6,000 such women a year are brought to Britain to work in the sex trade, says the Home Office. Mr Blair's new proposals would be controversial and spark a fresh row between ministers and civil rights groups, peers and rebel Labour MPs. He told the Sunday Telegraph: "I don't think you can deal with crime in the way we used to deal with it. Some of these gangs are vicious. We've just established the Serious Organised Crime Agency ... [but] I am convinced [its] powers are not sufficient. You need to find ways of making their life difficult."
The Assets Rrecovery Agency already has the power to confiscate money or property from suspected gang chiefs, without any actual proof of criminal activity.
As other commentators like Tim Worstall point out, who will be the next for the Tony Blair "let's lock them up without charge to 'disrupt' their activities" schemes ?