Police Scotland is warning universities and colleges not to fall victim to the risks posed by serious organised crime.

It comes amid a period of growth for the higher and further education sectors, with some institutions investing millions of pounds in new building projects and developments.

Officers want to highlight how this can leave organisations vulnerable to the risk of money laundering, fraud and cyber crime.

Institutions also have a duty to ensure that workers in the supply chain are not being exploited as victims of human trafficking.

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Officers based in the Scottish Crime Campus are visiting Strathclyde University today to deliver a SOC prevention course for the sector.

Around 70 delegates from institutions across the country are expected to attend, representing professional services including finance, procurement, estates, information technology, risk and audit.

Chief Superintendent John McKenzie said: “Tackling serious organised crime is one of our key priorities and we are making significant progress in this area.

“Everyone can play their part in helping with this and it is vital that we work with other organisations to help them identify vulnerabilities. “As we move into an increasingly digital world, so does serious organised crime and groups operate in a number of sophisticated ways, exploiting opportunities to enable various forms of criminality.

“We will do all we can to deter serious organised crime groups and part of this includes working with those who are responsible for procurement and large contracts in a range of sectors to ensure they take all steps possible to protect their organisations from these kinds of threats.

“We are absolutely committed to disrupting serious organised crime groups and working with our partners in this way, we can keep people safe from the harm they pose.”

The one-day course has been designed by Police Scotland Safer Communities – Divert and Deter groups to make institutions aware of the threat from serious organised crime.

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It complements work being carried out by the Serious Organised Crime Taskforce which aims to divert, disrupt, deter and detect organised crime.

Cabinet Secretary for Justice Michael Matheson added: “I welcome this latest SOC Prevention course, targeted at the higher and further education sector. It builds on the work of the Serious Organised Crime Taskforce partners to raise awareness across the public sector of what steps organisations can take to become more resilient to the threats from organised crime.

"All of Scotland's communities can be affected by the impacts of serious organised crime and all can play a part in resisting, disrupting and defeating it. A collective effort will most effectively cut off what it needs to thrive and survive – people, money, information and access to contracts."