British firms (organised crime)

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British crime firms
Founded19th century
Founding locationUnited Kingdom
TerritoryUnited Kingdom
EthnicityPredominantly White British (English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh)
Criminal activitiesRacketeering, prostitution, bookmaking, drug trafficking, loan sharking, extortion, counterfeiting, robbery, bribery, contract killing, assault, gambling, arms trafficking and smuggling
AlliesTurkish mafia
Jamaican posse
Pakistani Mafia
Irish Republican Army

British firms is a name designated to describe organised crime groups originating in the United Kingdom.[1]

Organised crime in the United Kingdom[edit]

In analogy with the Penose in the Netherlands and the Milieu in France, Organised crime in the United Kingdom has traditionally been governed by homegrown organised criminal groups involved in a multitude of illegitimate businesses.[1] The UK being a multi-ethnic society, criminal enterprises come from a variety of different ethnic backgrounds finding their origin in the UK, the most dominant of them still being the White British groups.[2]

Outside of the ethnic British crime firms, foreign criminal gangs such as the Irish mob, Albanian mafia, Cosa Nostra and other Italian organised crime groups; Greek mafia, Serbian mafia, Jewish mafia, Triads, Russian mafia, Yardies, Pakistani mafia as well as Sri Lankan Tamil and Vietnamese organised crime groups operate in parts of the United Kingdom.[3] Those criminal organisations are not described as being British crime groups since their organisation itself or their main connections originated in a foreign country.

The whole of the UK is said to host some 7,500 different organised criminal groups that cost the country £100 million a day in crime and lost revenues.[4]

British crime firms[edit]

English and Scottish crime groups, as well as Irish gangs (like the Clerkenwell crime syndicate aka the Adams Family) and Turkish Cypriot (like Arif family) descent find their origin in tough, impoverished white working class neighbourhoods. They are largely family-run organised criminal gangs involved in many illegal activities in their respective areas. Even with the influx of foreign gangsters as well as with the rise of homegrown gangs consisting of minorities, white British groups are still the major concern for law enforcement and are active in the major British urban centres.[5] Indigenous criminal organisations are mostly centred around local extended criminal families.

London crime families[edit]

London's crime families were traditionally centred in the East End of London (the infamous Kray twins being the most notable).[6] Due to the restructuring of the East End, and the influx of migrants to the area, traditional Cockney families have moved to South London, parts of North London (mainly Islington), and the counties surrounding London (such as Essex and Kent). Working-class neighbourhoods are often still home to family-based crime groups involved in drug trafficking, extortion, prostitution, armed robbery, contract killing, money laundering, counterfeiting and kidnapping.[7] Some of the more notorious South London crime families include the 'Brindles' and the 'Walkers',[8] while the Arifs are the most notorious crime family from London's south-eastern neighbourhoods. Another well-known London crime family is the Clerkenwell crime syndicate in Islington, also known as the 'Adams family '.

London's working-class crime families are not necessarily of Cockney (or even English) descent, as other ethnicities including Irish and Turkish Cypriots have historically settled in the same East London districts (in addition to parts of northeast and southeast London). Some of the more powerful crime families, such as the 'Brindles' are of English descent, while others such as the 'Adams' families are of Irish heritage. The 'Arifs', meanwhile, are of Turkish Cypriot descent.

London's crime families are more territorial, but can be internationally active in money laundering as well as drug trafficking, cocaine and ecstasy in particular.

Liverpudlian mafia[edit]

The Liverpudlian mafia is a colloquial term used to describe drug trafficking cartels based in the city of Liverpool. In contrast to London's crime families they are less territorial and more internationally active. The trafficking of cocaine and heroin to the British mainland as well as to countries like Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands is the main source of income for Scouse crime groups. Weapon trafficking and contract killing are activities of choice as well. Liverpudlian crime groups have forged close links with Irish criminal syndicates, as well as the Real IRA.[9]

The Liverpool gangs tend to be more entrepreneurial instead of territorial, where different factions will often choose to work together in several criminal activities, but will also come into conflict with each other when it comes to more localised control over organised crime.[10] While the Liverpool mafia used to refer to the White British crime families active in the city, it has grown to include the several powerful gangs active in the Liverpudlian Black community of Toxteth. When a strategic alliance was made between several white crime families and a number of Toxteth-based gangs dubbed the Black Caucus, a number of black gangs, including one headed by Curtis Warren, grew into power and moved up from street-level crime towards the organised criminal activities the white gangs were active in.[11]

Glasgow crime families[edit]

In analogy with London the city of Glasgow has been home to Scottish crime families involved in drug trafficking, weapon trafficking, extortion, kidnapping, scrap dealing and murder. The syndicates of Arthur Thompson or Thomas McGraw are prime examples of Glasgow crime clans. The nature of gangs in Glasgow also has a sectarian influence imported from Ireland. Glasgow's crime families are often involved in violent feuds, as with the vendetta between the Daniel clan and the Lyons clan.[12]

Other examples[edit]

White British crime families operate in many other cities in the United Kingdom as well, other known centres being Newcastle upon Tyne, Nottingham and Manchester. Firms outside of the more well-known London, Liverpool and Glasgow areas include the Noonans of Manchester or the Sayers in Newcastle.[13]

Black British street gangs, such as the Tottenham Mandem and the Cheetham Hillbillies are generally not described as being part of the traditional British crime firms, which is more associated with the White British crime families from the working class districts. Black British street gangs are nevertheless an active part of the British underworld and may have connections to the White firms, the Adams crime family as an example.[14]

Organised crime groups based in the United Kingdom[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b John Lea. "traditional organized crime in Britain". Archived from the original on 7 January 2015. Retrieved 26 December 2014.
  2. ^ "Organised crime: Farewell to the heist - The Economist". The Economist. 2013-08-10. Retrieved 26 December 2014.
  3. ^ Amanda Williams (2013-10-06). "A quarter of organised crime gangs are run by overseas thugs, new figures reveal as Theresa May promises to deport foreign suspects | Mail Online". London: Retrieved 2013-10-27.
  4. ^ Whitehead, Tom (2013-01-25). "Police battling 7,500 crime gangs that cost the country £100 million a day, Infamous CRB syndicate run by Zainullah Henayati which take in 20% of this daily revenue and also have control over 500 crime gangs". London: Telegraph. Retrieved 2013-10-27.
  5. ^ "traditional organized crime in Britain". 2003-09-18. Archived from the original on 2015-01-07. Retrieved 2013-10-27.
  6. ^ "Kray Brothers". 1966-12-23. Retrieved 2013-10-27.
  7. ^ Tony Thompson (1999-11-28). "London's new Krays take Soho | UK news | The Observer". Retrieved 2013-10-27.
  8. ^ "Bernard O'Mahoney — Essexboys - The Triple Rettendon Murders - Articles - ??/03/96 - MURDER INC". Retrieved 2013-10-27.
  9. ^ Mark Townsend (2008-05-18). "Colombian 'hit' that set off a UK cocaine war | World news | The Observer". Retrieved 2013-10-27.
  10. ^ Tony Bell (1995-05-16). "So, who does run Toxteth? | World news | The Independent". London: Retrieved 2015-02-24.
  11. ^ "The Hurricane Port: A Social History of Liverpool". Retrieved 2015-02-24.
  12. ^ "Lyons and Daniels embroiled in gangland feud | Scotland | News | STV". News. 2010-03-19. Retrieved 2013-10-27.
  13. ^ Dan Warburton (2010-12-28). "Paddy Conroy on his feud with Sayers family". Chronicle Live. Archived from the original on 2014-12-25. Retrieved 2013-10-27.
  14. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-04-02. Retrieved 2015-03-24.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)