The Government’s Organised Crime Strategy ‘Local to Global’ defines organised crime as ‘individuals, normally working with others, with the capability to commit serious crime on a continuing basis, which includes elements of planning, control and coordination, and benefits those involved. The motivation is often, but not always, financial gain’. Organised criminals that work together for the duration of a particular criminal activity or activities are what we call an organised crime group.

Organised crime group structures vary. Successful organised crime groups often consist of a durable core of key individuals. Around them, there’s a cluster of subordinates, specialists, and other more transient members, plus an extended network of associates.

Many groups are in practice loose networks of criminals that come together for the duration of a criminal activity, acting in different roles depending on their skills and expertise. Collaboration is reinforced by shared experiences (such as prison), or recommendation from trusted individuals. Others are bonded by family or ethnic ties – some ‘crime families’ are precisely that.