Home ﬁrms: the British experience
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This chapter examines the evidence for the existence of organised crime in Britain. The ﬁrst part of the chapter sets out a historical review of the activities and growth of criminal groups in Britain in the period from the seventeenth until the beginning of the twentieth centuries. The second part examines the development of criminal gangs in the period until the late 1960s, contrasting the advent and operation of different types of gang. Some commentators might regard this era as the heyday of ‘Britain’s gangland’, featuring the activities of gangsters from the very speciﬁc type of underworld that existed during the inter-war and immediate post-Second World War periods. The third part of the chapter reviews aspects of the contemporary scene in Britain, examining the transition from the earlier forms of gang life in the UK to a more fragmented, more diversiﬁed panorama of criminal groups. This part of the chapter draws contrasts between the gangs that were part of Britain’s gangland in its heyday and more recent criminal gangs, comparing their degree of organisation, their activities and their modes of operation. It reviews the everincreasing predominance of their involvement in drug trafﬁcking. It also examines the relationship between organised crime and new communities in the UK, referring in particular to the question of whether some aspects of organised crime in Britain are an example of Ianni’s ‘ethnic succession thesis’ (Ianni 1974).