Measuring Organised Crime-Related Harms: Exploring Five Policing Methods
Crime Law and Social Change, November 2011
17 Pages Posted: 1 Jan 2012
Date Written: October 1, 2011
Many law enforcement agencies around the world have adapted risk assessment methodology to analyse organised crime. These assessments, which are intended to provide law enforcement management with rigourous analysis to enable rational and objective decision-making processes, are an integral part of intelligence-led policing. Despite the prevalence of these assessments, as the assessments and their methodologies are often tightly restricted within the law enforcement community, it is often unclear how law enforcement defines, analyses and makes decisions about organised crime. While the use of risk assessment methodology to analyse organised crime in policing is generally under-evaluated, critics point to serious methodological weaknesses. Another aspect that is less explored in the scholarly literature is how law enforcement conceptualises and measures the impact or ‘harm’ from organised crime and uses this analysis to inform priority-setting processes. This article explores how law enforcement assess organised crime-related harm by examining five policing methods — one each from Australia and the Netherlands and three from the United Kingdom. The article finds that the methods have significant shortcomings: the main concepts are generally ill-defined and the operationalisation of these concepts is problematic. More importantly, the problems evident in the harm methods raise several critical questions, specifically whether measuring organised crime-related harms is empirically feasible and, if so, can be undertaken in a manner that meaningfully informs law enforcement’s decision-making and limits undue political interference.
Keywords: organised crime, organized crime, harm, risk, priority setting
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