|Research bulletin: understanding the crime fall|
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12 November 2014
7-18 July 2014
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Abstracts and slides
Organised Crime Groups Research (I)
Organised crime’s infiltration in the legitimate private economy: a network analysis approach
Stefano Gurciullo, Computer Science Department and School of Public Policy, University College London
Organised crime’s infiltration in the legitimate private economy: a network analysis approach Stefano Gurciullo, Computer Science Department and School of Public Policy, University College London It is estimated that Italian Mafias registered €135 billion in profits only in 2010. Part of this huge amount of money – coming mostly from the drugs, prostitution and arms illicit markets – is often used to invest into legitimate private economies. As a consequence, the affected economies destabilise, become entrenched with violent forms of competition and are bound to stagnation. Criminal organisations’ infiltration in the economy is not an Italian oddity, but a global security issue. The Indian D-Company possesses a trading company in Dubai and several construction companies in the Gulf, while the Japanese Yakuza heavily invests in Asian stock markets. Nonetheless, few are the attempts to uncover the patterns followed by criminal organisations in their business ventures. The reason lays mostly in the poor availability of data on criminal activity, or in the highly risky task of gather it.
This presentation partially fills this gap thanks to access to information about the Sicilian Mafia in a city. More specifically, it tries to analyse the nature and extent of criminal infiltration into the legitimate private economy of the case-study using social network techniques. The research demonstrates that sectors with a high degree of centrality and comprising fewer firms are the most vulnerable to this kind of security threat. It also shows that centrality is also the key criterion that makes a firm sensitive to infiltration, provided it belongs to a susceptible economic sector.
Such conclusions are reached through a four-step analysis. The first section briefly deals with the theoretical groundings. The research question is contextualised by drawing on relevant economic, political and criminological literature. A model that explains why and how they infiltrate economy is developed.
The second section presents the case-study used to provide at least a partial answer to the research question. The empirical object of analysis is the local private economy of a Sicilian city within a confined period, year 2002. The basic characteristics of the economy are described, together with the Mafioso activity within it.
The third section tests two theoretical predictions using network analysis. A one-mode, non-directional network of the economic sectors active in the case-study is constructed, thus showing both in a graphical and analytical way how and to what extent organised crime has infiltrated into the case-study.
The fourth and most crucial section discusses the robustness of the results and the policy implications of the research. It is argued that this method can potentially be used by intelligence operators to monitor criminal organisations’ economic activities, and to estimate what economic activities or agents are more vulnerable to the threat. Furthermore, it is shown that the instrument is scalable, that is, it can elaborate information about economies of any size (be they international, national or local), and is easily updatable when new intelligence is gathered.
Assessing the success factors of organized crime groups: intelligence challenges for strategic thinking
Jerry Ratcliffe, Department of Criminal Justice, Temple University, Philadelphia, USA
Over the last decade, there has been a shift in policing among the industrialized nations. Several factors have moved police services towards an intelligence-led, data-driven approach to risk mitigation and operational decision-making. A desire for intelligence to facilitate and improve decision-making is not just attractive at local levels of policing. Given the top-down nature of intelligence-led policing, some of the enthusiasm for the development of intelligence-led decision-making from national governments also may have stemmed from the potential to integrate national priorities into the local public safety setting. Numerous national intelligence models are designed with this process in mind, seeking to offer local police a mechanism not only to identify and highlight local issues, but to do so hand-in-hand with a central government’s priorities. The National Intelligence Model is among a number of models that attempt this integration. Among the many questions that arise from this are issues about the universality of organized crime group characteristics: do intelligence analysts perceive them similarly across all levels of the police organization, from national the local?
As financial constraints have resulted in a need to focus scarce resources on a limited number of only the most noxious crime groups, intelligence agencies have developed mechanisms to triage and identify the most successful groups and the groups which pose the greatest harm. These mechanisms are often based on expert judgment of intelligence officers and specialists from the field; however, these risk assessment methodologies have rarely been evaluated in a systematic manner. The current study makes a contribution to closing this gap by examining the perceptions of organized crime gang capabilities using data from a survey of intelligence officers at the local, regional and national levels. Differences in their perceptions of what constitutes the characteristics of successful gangs are illuminating and likely indicative of different priorities for police in the hierarchical system, as well as the constraints of observing the organized crime problem through a particular lens.
In this presentation I present survey results using the RCMP Sleipnir framework as a foundation for a Q-Sort survey regarding the characteristics of organized crime group success. The survey was delivered to over 150 criminal intelligence specialists at an international conference in 2011. Results show that perception of organized crime group success varies by nationality, as well as by the analyst’s level within the hierarchy of the law enforcement structure (local, state, national). Potential reasons for these outcomes are discussed. The findings raise questions about reliability and validity of organized crime risk assessments, and are directly applicable to thinking about national-to-local priorities within the National Intelligence Model framework.
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