MORE than 3,000 gangsters are operating in Scotland's organised crime networks amid claims the public risk posed by the criminals is increasing.

The rising threat has been linked to gang feuds, violence and the availability of guns in Glasgow and the Central Belt, with a gangland shooting in 2016 - and a string of subsequent revenge attacks - also blamed.

The data was revealed in a National Crime Agency assessment of organised crime in Scotland.

READ MORE: Murder, maiming and mayhem ... Glasgow's gang wars are well and truly back

The report, written in association with Police Scotland, reveals that police are investigating 164 known organised crime groups (OCGs), comprising 3,282 members.

It states: "The number of OCGs is decreasing but the threat is increasing.

"We assess that the escalation in threat is, in part, linked to the ongoing feuds, violence and firearms incidents relating to OCGs in the central belt of Scotland."

The 2016 shooting mentioned in the report is understood to be the murder of Euan Johnston, who was shot as he waited at traffic lights in Glasgow's Tradeston area in November that year.

The 26-year-old's death, said in the report to have sparked "numerous reported and unreported acts of further violence", is the only gun murder in police records for 2016/17.

Last week, David Scott, 33, was jailed for a minimum of 22 years after being found guilty of his murder.

Judge Lady Stacey told him: "The attack was a premeditated, murderous assault involving the use of a lethal weapon. It can be correctly described as an execution.

"It was carried out in a public street."

READ MORE: Murder, maiming and mayhem ... Glasgow's gang wars are well and truly back

The NCA report states: "There is a current threat and harm presented by feuds and rivalries between six main OCGs operating in the east and west of Scotland.

"The situation escalated in late 2016 resulting in the shooting and murder of an individual connected to OCGs.

"This then led to numerous reported and unreported acts of further violence.

"The risk is heightened by access to firearms, including automatic weapons.

"A number of the attacks have been carried out in public places.

"Despite recent firearms seizures, it is assessed that the OCGs continue to have ready access to firearms that some may be willing to use within public places."

The 2018 assessment also revealed two thirds of organised crime gangs in Scotland are involved in drug trafficking, with Spain, followed by Holland and China, the main non-UK supply areas for illegal drugs heading to the country.

Liverpool is said to be the primary source of drugs supply to Scotland with "significant connections" between criminal gangs in the two areas.

Crime gangs are also involved in human trafficking across Scotland, with sex trafficking said to mainly involve adult women from Romania or Slovakia being exploited by perpetrators from these same countries.

Perpetrators and victims of people trafficking for slave labour in Scotland also tend to share a country of origin, the report states, including Latvia, Vietnam and China.

READ MORE: Murder, maiming and mayhem ... Glasgow's gang wars are well and truly back

The report indicates abuse of the Common Travel Area between Loch Ryan and Cairnryan ports in Dumfries and Galloway, with commercial ships said to have been used in relation to human trafficking, immigration abuse and "potential extremist travel".

Roll on/roll off freight ships are also said to have been used to enable illegal immigrants and Class A drugs to get into Scotland.