The Suppression of Organized Crime: New Approaches and Problems
Ayling, J. & R. Broadhurst 2012, ‘The Suppression of Organized Crime: New approaches and problems’, in T. Prenzler, ed. Policing and Security in Practice: Challenges and Achievements, Palgrave Macmillan: London, pp 37-55
17 Pages Posted: 21 Aug 2012 Last revised: 25 Apr 2013
Date Written: September 8, 2011
Organized crime poses many challenges. Analytically the first challenge is definitional. What is organized crime? One thing it is not is new. It can be 'found in a dark but common thread running through human history' (Galeotti 2008: 1). As Varese (2010) notes there is still no agreed definition. Nevertheless, a shared understanding of the problem is important because effective strategies to deal with organized crime need an agreed conceptual starting point.
The second challenge is strategic: how best to deal with organized crime in a rapidly globalizing world? For a long time states have grappled with what to do about organized crime, but increases in the associated costs, dangers and spread are giving a fresh urgency (UNODC 2010). Changing economic conditions, such as the impact of the global financial crisis, have increased pressures on legitimate businesses and on states themselves, amplifying their vulnerabilities. Organized crime has been quick to take advantage of these new opportunities, leading to the emergence of new actors and crime types, the restructuring of criminal groups, sharper rivalries between some groups and active integration between others (Galeotti 2009), as well as increases in corruption and expansion of so-called ‘grey markets’.
The third challenge is logistical and tactical. What counter-measures are effective against organized crime? The scale and scope of organized crime is changing with modernity and globalization. Once perceived as manageable by domestic law enforcement, organized crime increasingly has a transnational dimension. A single crime may demand responses from producer or host states, transit states and states where illicit product or services are eventually consumed. Innovations in organized crime associated with new technologies present new problems concerning jurisdictional responsibility, evidence retention or seizure and law enforcement cooperation and capacities. Moreover the nature of the groups committing organized crimes appear to be moving from structured, hierarchical and ethnicity-based groups towards increasingly fluid, flexible, networked and impermanent forms. These new varieties of organized crime necessitate ‘real-time’ intelligence-gathering. The frequent existence of symbiotic relationships between criminal groups, legitimate businesses and officials of the state (including police) requires responses from law enforcement institutions that are impartial and independent.
This chapter considers how some states have been addressing these challenges and concludes with some future directions for the policing of organized crime in a changing world.
Keywords: organized crime, criminal networks, counter measures, criminal law
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