Daily Archives: 17/11/2014

RUSI launches Strategic Hub for organised crime research in the UK and overseas

The Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) has announced the launch of a new Strategic Hub designed to explore and tackle serious and organised crime by way of high level research. The new hub will develop a world class research agenda that meets the needs of both policy makers and practitioners in the field.

The Strategic Hub for Organised Crime Research has been initiated in association with the Home Office, the National Crime Agency, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Partnership for Crime, Conflict and Security within Research Councils UK.

The harmful impacts of organised crime in the UK are becoming more visible, from new areas such as cyber crime, trafficking in cultural objects and match fixing through to traditional activities like drug trafficking.

The cost of organised crime in the UK is estimated to be at least £24 billion, with a significant impact on communities, families and individuals. Further afield, organised crime undermines development assistance and contributes to instability.

In response, the Home Office has developed the Serious and Organised Crime Strategy and established the National Crime Agency. The strategy takes an holistic approach to organised crime, seeking to Pursue, Prevent, Protect and Prepare.

RUSI has launched a Strategic Hub for Organised Crime Research in association with the Home Office, the National Crime Agency, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Partnership for Crime, Conflict and Security within Research Councils UK

RUSI has launched a Strategic Hub for Organised Crime Research in association with the Home Office, the National Crime Agency, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Partnership for Crime, Conflict and Security within Research Councils UK

Addressing gaps in understanding

Despite the Government’s renewed focus on combating organised crime, there are still gaps in the understanding of the scale and nature of organised crime in the UK and overseas, the effectiveness of strategies to disrupt it and pathways into and out of organised criminality. These gaps undermine attempts to address organised crime on a global basis.

The new Strategic Hub will fill this knowledge gap. Bringing together academic researchers and policy makers, the hub will create greater connectivity between policy concerns and rigorous enquiry.

Initially, the Strategic Hub will work with partners and the academic community to assess what strategies are effective at disrupting organised crime, what criminal markets look like and where the vulnerabilities lie in the system. The Hub also aims to develop new methodologies to examine these and related issues.

Priorities will be examined by policy makers, academics and researchers during a conference to be held at RUSI on 8 December 2014.

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International law enforcement deals major blow to Dark Web markets

Co-ordinated activity by law enforcement bodies in Europe and the US has targeted marketplaces for illegal commodities on The Dark Web – the ‘hidden’ areas of the Internet.

Working with police forces across the UK, the National Crime Agency (NCA) arrested six people on 6 November in strikes co-ordinated with international partners. Those arrested include suspected administrators for the online drug marketplace Silk Road 2.0 and another drug marketplace, as well as significant vendors of illegal drugs through The Dark Web.

Simultaneously, partners from the European Cybercrime Centre – acting on intelligence developed by US counterparts – took out technical infrastructure which is key to the hosting of illegal marketplaces on The Dark Web. In total, over 400 hidden services were taken down.

The six people arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the supply of controlled drugs were a 20-year-old man from Liverpool city centre, a 19-year-old man from New Waltham in Lincolnshire, a 30-year-old man from Cleethorpes, a 29-year-old man from Aberdovey in Wales, a 58-year-old man from Aberdovey, Wales and a 58-year-old woman (again from Aberdovey in Wales). All six were interviewed and have been bailed pending further enquiries.

Silk Road 2.0 seized notice

Silk Road 2.0 seized notice

A large amount of computer equipment was seized at all the addresses searched and will now be forensically examined.

The action taken by the NCA and its partners across Europe and America is part of continuing operations to target the use of online marketplaces to trade in illegal commodities such as Class A drugs, firearms and false documents. Anyone who tries to access Silk Road 2.0 will now see a notice highlighting the site has been seized.

Roy McComb, deputy director of the National Crime Agency, commented: “Over the months since the original Silk Road was taken down, we have been working with partners in the US and Europe to locate technical infrastructure key to The Dark Web and to investigate individuals suspected of significant involvement in illegal online marketplaces. Those arrested by the NCA in this phase of the operation are suspected of setting up Silk Road 2.0, or of being significant vendors of illegal drugs.”

McComb continued: “The operation is ongoing and more arrests can be expected as we continue to investigate those involved in setting up and profiting from these illegal marketplaces. Criminals like to think that The Dark Web provides a safe, anonymous haven but in reality this is just like any other organised crime network. It may take time and effort to investigate and build a criminal case, but we’re determined to identify and prosecute people caught dealing drugs and committing serious crime using The Dark Web.”

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Victim Support celebrates Restorative Justice Week 2014

Victim Support is backing Restorative Justice Week 2014, which runs from 16-23 November.

Restorative justice is when an offender and victim converse about an offence and how it has affected them. This can be through a face-to-face meeting (known as Restorative Justice Conferencing), facilitated and supported by a trained restorative justice expert or indirectly through a mediator or a letter.

It’s a practice that actually dates back thousands of years but is seen as a relatively new idea in dealing with the harm done by crime and other conflicts in England and Wales.

Under the Code for Victims, all victims are entitled to restorative justice.

Victim Support has long been an advocate of restorative justice as it has many benefits for both victim and offender. For the victim, the benefits include:

• a chance to have their say about how the offence made them feel
• receiving answers to their questions about the offence and the offender
• challenging and confronting the offender’s behaviour
• a chance to seek an apology and/or other reparation
• a greater sense of justice and closure
• increased confidence in the criminal justice system
• a measured reduction in post-traumatic stress

Victim Support has long been an advocate of restorative justice as it has many benefits for both victims and offenders

Victim Support has long been an advocate of restorative justice as it has many benefits for both victims and offenders

Positive results are also numerous for the offender and the community. Often, there’s improvement in the rehabilitation of the offender, a reduced likelihood of re-offending and an understanding of the impact of their actions.

The restorative justice process also gives offenders the chance to make amends and explain why they committed the offence and their motivations behind it, which in turn can help the victim understand the situation.

It also helps them reintegrate back into the community, a process which is proven to help reduce crime and re-offending and increases feelings of safety and confidence in the criminal justice system.

Victim Support offers over 30 different restorative justice programmes across the country. These are in: London, Cheshire, Cumbria and Lancashire, Greater Manchester, Humberside, Yorkshire West, Avonvale, Somerset and Dorset, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire, Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire, Devon and Cornwall, Essex and Hertfordshire, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, Norfolk, Suffolk, Surrey and Sussex, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire, Gwent and South Wales, West Mercia and Staffordshire and Warwickshire.

*For further information visit: https://www.victimsupport.org.uk/about-us/news/restorative-justice-week#sthash.kmMt2ALe.dpuf

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BSIA places ‘UK Security Exporting’ at the forefront of its 2015 ‘Manifesto’

The British Security Industry Association (BSIA) is pushing ahead with its promise to promote the exporting of UK private security sector solutions into the New Year. The Trade Association’s members provide over 70% of UK security products and services and adhere to strict quality standards.

British security is playing an increasingly important role on the world stage as the global market continues to create new opportunities for ‘Best of British’ products and services designed and developed by UK suppliers.

For many BSIA member companies, exporting was something of a lifeline during the recession as the process helped to keep businesses afloat. International markets such as the Middle East have thrived during the economic downturn, in turn enabling the Trade Association’s members to grow and prosper through the exporting of goods and services.

In a recent survey of the BSIA’s Export Council members, more than 80% of respondents agreed that exporting became more important to their businesses during the recession. Indeed, many reported an increase in overseas business between 2012 and 2013.

The BSIA’s Export Council serves as a forum for developing business relationships between companies in the UK’s security industry and overseas buyers. It also acts as an invaluable port of call for overseas-based contacts interested in developing a working relationship with a UK company (or companies) either as a partner, customer or distributor. Exporting remains pivotal for UK security companies and the BSIA’s networking initiatives and events continue to establish and reinforce such links.

British security is playing an increasingly important role on the world stage as the global market continues to create new opportunities for ‘Best of British’ products and services from UK suppliers

British security is playing an increasingly important role on the world stage as the global market continues to create new opportunities for ‘Best of British’ products and services from UK suppliers

Government pledge on UK security exports

According to UKTI’s security export strategy, the worth of the global security market is forecast to reach £571 billion in 2016 through a projected growth of 9%. The Government has pledged to double overall UK exports to £1 trillion by 2020 which can only help push projected growth in the global security marketplace past that 9% target. This positive outlook is reinforced by the experiences of BSIA members who export, with more than 90% expecting their overseas business to increase during 2014-2015.

UKTI figures also estimate that UK security exporters now enjoy a 4.2% share of the global market for security products and services, a share which is also forecast to increase in line with projected growth for the global security market.

The Middle East boasts a fast-growing economy and a strong reputation for procuring British goods and services, thus giving BSIA members a head start when it comes to exporting. BSIA Export Council chairman Ian Moore stated: “Over the last few years, the Middle East has probably been the most attractive overseas security market for UK providers. It’s a natural target area for quality British companies.”

Emphasising the value of the Middle East to the Trade Association’s members, BSIA CEO James Kelly will soon be meeting with the First Secretary of the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates in London to discuss how those members can make the most of this emerging market while also promoting the BSIA at a higher level within the UAE.

James Kelly: CEO at the BSIA

James Kelly: CEO at the BSIA

“I look forward to meeting with the First Secretary to promote bilateral trade between BSIA members in the UK and businesses, customers and distributors in the UAE,” explained Kelly. “The Middle East is continuing to grow as a leading export market for our members, and it’s important that fact is recognised at the appropriate levels of Government, both here at home and abroad.”

For those members of the BSIA who are new to exporting, or for whom the process isn’t yet a major part of their business, the BSIA assists with TAP (Trade Show Access Programme) funding. Such funding provides grants for eligible businesses to attend overseas trade shows. Although not a huge amount of money, this financing helps members gain crucial market knowledge, build experience of trade shows and glean invaluable advice and support from trade experts. Two thirds of BSIA members who exhibited abroad in 2013 took advantage of TAP funding.

It was recently discovered that UKTI’s ‘Passport to Export’ service has suffered from a reduction in funding. The BSIA is pressing the case with key Parliamentarians to ensure that TAP funding continues for SMEs as so many of the BSIA’s members have derived direct benefits from this.

Importance of TAP funding

At a recent meeting with Karen Bradley MP (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Home Office with responsibility for security exports), James Kelly pressed the importance of TAP funding for BSIA members and, indeed, the wider UK economy.

“This Government has committed itself to doubling UK exports to £1 trillion by 2020 and has stated that exporting is a way out of these austere times,” asserted Kelly. “It goes completely against the Government’s strategy to be cutting this funding at such a crucial time for our businesses. We will continue to push this message to all levels of Government.”

According to UKTI’s security export strategy, the global security market is forecast to rise to £571 billion in 2016 through projected growth of 9%

According to UKTI’s security export strategy, the global security market is forecast to rise to £571 billion in 2016 through projected growth of 9%

Tobias Ellwood MP (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office with ministerial responsibility for the Middle East) recently represented the UK at the 12th Annual UK-UAE Task Force. First established back in July 2010 following Prime Minister David Cameron visiting the UAE and meeting with Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nayhan (the UAE’s Foreign Minister), the Task Force aims to further strengthen ties between the two countries. As such, the BSIA is looking to meet with Ellwood at the MP’s earliest convenience to discuss the value of the Middle East to the UK private security industry.

At the recent Task Force meeting, Ellwood stated: “The UK and the UAE enjoy a close partnership based on deep historical links and shared interests. I’m pleased that we are able to agree to strengthen our partnerships across the sphere of investment.”

*For more information on the BSIA’s Export Council visit: http://www.bsia.co.uk/export-council/about-bsia-export-council

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‘Hire a hacker to solve cyber skills crisis’ urge UK companies

According to the latest research conducted by KPMG UK, companies admit they’re considering turning to ex-hackers in a bid to stay one step ahead of cyber criminals.

KPMG surveyed 300 senior IT and HR professionals in organisations employing 500-plus staff to assess how the corporate world is ‘skilling-up’ to protect itself against cyber security breaches. The survey reveals that many companies are becoming increasingly desperate as they struggle to hire the right people.

Nearly three quarters (74%) say they are facing new cyber security challenges which demand new cyber skills. For example, 70% admit their organisation ‘lacks data protection and privacy expertise’. The same proportion of companies are also wary about their organisation’s ability to assess incoming threats.

The majority are candid enough to admit that the shortfall exists because the skills needed to combat the cyber threat are different to those required for conventional IT security. In particular, 60% of respondents are worried about finding cyber experts who can effectively communicate with the business. This aspect is vital towards ensuring that the cyber threat is well understood by corporate leaders outside of the IT Department.

UK companies admit they are considering turning to ex-hackers in a bid to stay one step ahead of the cyber criminals

UK companies admit they are considering turning to ex-hackers in a bid to stay one step ahead of the cyber criminals

While 60% claim to have a strategy in place designed to deal with any skills gaps, it’s clear that there is a short supply of people with all the relevant skills. 57% of interviewees agree it has become more difficult to retain staff in specialised cyber skills in the past two years. The same number say the churn rate is higher in cyber than for IT skills while 52% agree there’s aggressive head-hunting going on in this arena.

According to KPMG’s research, the skills gap is forcing many companies to consider turning to ‘poachers turned game-keepers’ in order to keep up-to-speed. 53% of respondents say they would consider using a hacker to bring inside information to their security teams. Just over half (52%) would also consider recruiting an expert even if they had a previous criminal record.

Clear strategy for dealing with the skills gap

Commenting on the research findings, Serena Gonsalves-Fersch (head of KPMG’s Cyber Security Academy) explained: “Increasing awareness of the cyber threat means the majority of UK companies are clear on their strategy for dealing with any skills gaps. However, they wouldn’t hire pickpockets to be security officers so the very fact that companies are considering former hackers as recruits clearly shows how desperate they are to stay ahead of the game. With such an unwise choice on the menu, it’s encouraging to see other options on the table.”

Gonsalves-Fersch added: “Rather than relying on hackers to share their secrets, or throwing money at off-the-shelf programmes that quickly become out of date, UK companies need to take stock of their cyber defence capabilities and act on the gaps that are specific to their own security needs. It’s important to have the technical expertise in place, of course, but it’s just as important to translate that into the business environment in a language senior management can both understand and respond to in good time.”

KPMG surveyed 300 senior IT and HR professionals in organisations employing 500-plus staff to assess how the corporate world is ‘skilling-up’ to protect itself against cyber security breaches

KPMG surveyed 300 senior IT and HR professionals in organisations employing 500-plus staff to assess how the corporate world is ‘skilling-up’ to protect itself against cyber security breaches

The research comes as KPMG launches a new cyber awareness programme, offering cyber learning content across the organisation from the C-Suite through to recent graduates. It also includes a ‘bridging course’ designed to help IT and business departments understand the language and risks presented by today’s cyber threats.

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MITIE Group plc reports “strong core business performance” in half-yearly financials

In its half-yearly financial report for the six-month period ending 30 September 2014, MITIE Group plc has posted a headline revenue growth1 of 4.8% (of which 3.9% was organic) and operating profits up 3.0% (2.2% organic) while the operating profit margin remains strong at 5.9%.

The company reports a headline cash conversion of 80.3%2 (2013: 106.7%) and a statutory cash conversion of 128.6% (2013: 116.3%) above target KPI of 80%. Net debt as at 30 September 2014 is £233.8 million or 1.5x headline EBITDA3 (2013: £221.8 million, 1.5x headline EBITDA).

There has been “strong growth” of both headline basic EPS and dividend, which are up 5.1% and 6.1% respectively.

Strong organic growth in the Facilities Management business

• Sector-leading organic FM revenue growth of 6.3% and contract retention rate above 90%
• Rated as the top overall service provider* in the UK FM industry for the second year running
• Successful in retaining integrated FM contract with Vodafone for a further five years. Contract valued at £250 million
• Awarded a range of new FM contracts including those with Royal Cornwall Hospitals (valued at £90 million over seven years) and Heathrow Airport (valued at £40 million over three years)
• Successfully mobilised contract with the Home Office to run two immigration centres at Heathrow. Contract valued at £180 million over eight years
• Property Management division will enjoy a more buoyant second half supported by planned project works
• Challenging first half for the Healthcare division but confidence remains in terms of the long-term growth prospects in this market

Ruby McGregor-Smith CBE: CEO at MITIE Group plc

Ruby McGregor-Smith CBE: CEO at MITIE Group plc

Exit from loss-making businesses complete this financial year

MITIE Group plc’s exit from its Mechanical and Electrical Engineering Construction business will be complete in this financial year. Losses of £6.9 million were incurred in this period. MITIE expects this to range between £11 million and £15 million for the full year (FY2014: £13.6 million).

The company has assessed all remaining risk on the design and build contracts left in its Asset Management business. Exceptional charges of £45.7 million were incurred (FY2014: £25.4 million) which cover all balance sheet exposures and all material expected future costs. Beyond these amounts, MITIE Group plc expects no further exceptional charges from either of these businesses.

Well positioned for the longer term

MITIE Group plc’s order book “remains healthy” and now stands at £8.5 billion (March 2014: £8.7 billion). 98% of 2014-2015 budgeted revenue has been secured (prior year: 99%) in addition to 72% of the 2015-2016 forecast revenue (prior year: 74%).

The bid pipeline has grown by 20% to £9.8 billion (March 2014: £8.2 billion). Continued investment is being made in the bidding, strategic sales and operational management capability across the group.

The company affirms that a “robust balance sheet and strong financial position” will support growth.

Commenting on the latest set of financials at MITIE Group plc, Ruby McGregor-Smith CBE – the company’s CEO – explained: “We have delivered a strong performance in our FM business during the first half of the year, and we expect to gain further positive momentum through the remainder of 2014. We have significantly de-risked our group by finalising the exit from our loss-making businesses. We’re now focused on investing in and maximising the long-term growth potential of our FM, Property Management and Healthcare businesses.”

McGregor-Smith concluded: “Our order book and sales pipeline are substantial. We’re in a good position to deliver growth and look ahead with confidence.”

References

1Headline results exclude other items. Other items comprise exceptional charges in relation to design and build contracts in Energy Solutions of £45.7 million (2013: £nil), acquisition-related and integration costs of £0.6 million (2013: £2.6 million) and the amortisation of acquisition-related intangible assets of £5.1 million (2013: £5.6 million). They also include the results of the Mechanical and Electrical Engineering Construction business, with revenue of £3.8 million (2013: £41.2 million) and a trading loss of £6.9 million (2013: £4.3 million loss).
2Headline cash conversion calculated on a rolling 12-month basis (excludes the cash effect of other items)
312-month rolling EBITDA
*i-FM Brand Survey

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