Organised crime

The challenges of organised crime

Organised crime is especially challenging to control. It is:

  • Complex
  • Dispersed and invisible – forming networks more than gangs
  • Invasive and progressive
  • Subversive and self-protective – disabling and corrupting crime control systems
  • Persistent
  • Adaptive and durable
  • Entrepreneurial and well-resourced
  • Innovative
  • Catch up with existing crime problems we cannot yet prevent
  • Scan for emergent crime problems and stop them early
  • Anticipate new crime problems and develop and deploy timely new solutions
  • Make solutions durable, striving to maintain them whilst preparing for obsolescence
  • Systematic – in analysing crime problems and criminal organisations, and in designing solutions
  • Scientific and professional – using evidence and ideas distilled from research on the causes of crime and evaluation of crime reduction, and blending this with the ‘craft’ competencies of detectives and crime analysts
  • Strategic – analysing, planning and acting at different levels – from preventing individual criminal events to putting criminal organisations out of business, to pursuing career criminals, to disrupting entire criminal markets
  • Contextual – customising action to local circumstances
  • Cumulative – building reliable and durable knowledge
  • Current – keeping up to date on crime and crime reduction and prepared for obsolescence of existing preventive measures; pursuing a succession of momentary advantages rather than vainly seeking permanent solutions
  • Communicative – sharing know-how and broader capacity
  • Collaborative – working in partnership with diverse agencies, to pool complementary resources (the mirror image of why criminals themselves link up)

The Conjunction of Criminal Opportunity Framework and organised crime

‘Molecular’ interventions against specific crime problems make specific crime opportunities more risky, more effort and less rewarding; or focus on disrupting, inhibiting, removing or reforming specific offenders. Even repeated, temporary disruption of offending reduces the average yield to criminals and limits the rate of growth of their activities.

However, preventing organised crime must extend to higher strategic levels to incapacitate and permanently reduce the activity of illegal enterprise. Without this, we may win the battles but still lose the war. Something more than just single blockages and disruptions is needed because illegal enterprises can circumvent individual barriers, and new organisations will replace those closed down if the niches are still available and the markets persist.

Strategic interventions tackling the higher levels of causation include:

Other Crime Frameworks and organised crime