Trends in Organized Crime

, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp 46-59

First online:

Unintended consequences: changes in organised drug supply in the UK

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Social and institutional alarm around crime and violence within South-Asian communities in the UK has grown substantially over the last 10 years. Whether based on imagined threats and moral panics or on realistic observation of facts, such alarm focuses on drug use, related property crime, gang violence, and ultimately on new forms of organised criminality emerging among Pakistanis, Indians or Sri Lankans. This paper sets the scene by examining this imaginary or realistic alarm, to then offer an overview of studies around South Asian drug use and crime. Subsequently, it presents a number of organised crime models which have taken shape within the communities under examination. Finally, it looks at more recent developments, namely at the changes in organised drug supply determined by specific law enforcement choices and by the general political climate in which such choices are made. The case discussed in this paper shows how the features of illicit markets and the characteristics of the criminal enterprises operating in them may be the unintended consequences of specific social and institutional responses to social problems.