It is clear that the gap between perception and reality in relation to organised crime, and the subsequent reduction in crime that it is hoped will be achieved should this gap be addressed, are complex issues which will require sustained commitment and a fundamental rebalancing of the purpose and priority of communications messaging to effect.
Public confidence in the justice system remains of crucial importance, and a continuation of the work to bolster and earn that confidence is essential. Similarly, the public still require to be made aware of the threats they face. However, focusing solely on reputation and risk may undermine efforts to effectively build resilience in Scottish communities. By emphasising the threat and taking responsibility for it rather than seeking to build an effective awareness and working knowledge, we risk increasing fear and avoidance of the issues.
Simply telling people what they should do is not enough. Many factors influence how messages about organised crime are received, and some assumptions are long-standing and will take time to address. There is a risk that we will reproduce with new crime types, for instance with cybercrime, the same situation we now have with drugs – that most are aware of the issue, and many are scared, but fewer know where to turn for help or feel capable of effecting real change.
It is only by reimagining the purpose of communications as it relates to organised crime, by factoring into our public statements a programme of empowerment and education, and by measuring and amending our approach until success is achieved, that communicators can most effectively contribute to the new prevent agenda.
Email: Jim Hislop, firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit
The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House