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Illicit trade is a modern criminal activity driven by organised crime networks, posing a substantial threat to national security and public safety

The nature of organised crime in Europe is changing. Organised crime groups are more networked, operate across multiple jurisdictions, and increasingly focus on economic and relatively lower-risk crimes such as illicit trade, whose harm is more difficult to demonstrate. This project looks to provide research to better understand these trends and to help governments and law enforcement agencies respond to organised crime more effectively.

On Tap UK

Organised crime is more pervasive in British society than is generally acknowledged, and includes often overlooked activities such as illicit trade. The true scale of the illicit trade in the UK is hard to determine, but not impossible to measure. On Tap is the culmination of a twelve-month study on illicit trade conducted in three regions of the UK – the northwest, east and southwest of England. It provides the first in-depth investigation of the intersection of organised crime and illicit trade in tobacco, alcohol and pharmaceuticals, and suggests a number of steps the government and other actors should take to combat the problem.

On Tap: Organised Crime and the Illicit Trade in Tobacco, Alcohol and Pharmaceuticals in the UK

On Tap Europe

According to Europol, commodity counterfeiting and illicit trade in substandard goods are major emerging criminal markets in the EU. The low risks and high profitability of illicit trade increasingly attract organised crime groups, and the number of counterfeit products seized by law enforcement agencies across Europe continues to increase. This study will provide a comparative analysis of the role of organised crime in the illicit trade of tobacco, alcohol and pharmaceuticals across the EU. The 18-month project will gather evidence from five EU member states – Poland, Spain, Greece, Italy and Romania – to assess the scale, methods and routes of organised criminals involved in illicit trade and identify best practice in policy and law enforcement responses.

On Tap Europe: Organised Crime and Illicit Trade in Poland: Country Report

On Tap Europe: Organised Crime and Illicit Trade in Spain: Country Report

On Tap Europe: Organised Crime and Illicit Trade in Greece: Country Report

On Tap Europe: Organised Crime and Illicit Trade in Tobacco, Alcohol and Pharmaceuticals

Organised Crime & Illicit Trade in Europe Conference

21-22 November 2016 | Brussels, Belgium

This two-day conference brought together representatives from a total of eight European member states to assess the scale and scope of illicit trade across the region, and the extent of organised criminal involvement. It complemented the On Tap Europe project by providing the opportunity to identify common and particular challenges faced by different countries. It also offered the chance for participants to exchange experience and best practice on effective law enforcement and policy responses, and improve cooperation between policy-makers, practitioners, academics and the private sectors in each country.

Attendance at this conference was by invitation only.

This conference was supported by the European Union Programme Hercule III (2014-2020). This programme is implemented by the European Commission. It was established to promote activities in the field of the protection of the financial interests of the European Union (for more information see


Calum Jeffray
Research Fellow +44 (0) 207 747 2611

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