Re-thinking organised criminality

Organised criminality today is active through relatively inaccessible areas of the internet, says Professor John Brocklesby.

Professor John Brocklesby
Professor John Brocklesby

Traditionally, organised criminality was syndicated, relatively visible and geographically bound. Today, it is often conducted by transient, opportunistic and highly mobile groups that co-ordinate activities anonymously through relatively inaccessible areas of the internet.

Professor John Brocklesby says that type of organised criminality is much harder to pinpoint.

After previous research with the United Kingdom’s Serious Organised Crime Agency, he knows exactly the sort of challenges posed by this new era of organised crime.

"This new way of thinking about criminality and policing is more complex and presents huge challenges for crime-fighting agencies.

"Take, for example, the supply of illegal drugs or human trafficking. Beyond the obvious offenders, this can engage travel agents, transport operators and bank, customs and immigration officials, all with varying levels of complicity.

"Likewise, on the policing side, there are groups like financial institutions, tax officials, neighbourhood watch and survelliance via social media," Prof Brocklesby says.

Considering organised criminality in this way requires a different view of crime fighting beyond traditional surveillance and apprehension, which is where this researcher's expertise in management science and organisational studies comes in.

Prof Brocklesby is currently working with academics and industry stakeholders examining inter-agency law enforcement collaboration. Through his membership of a Europol-based expert advisory panel, some of this work is channelled through to the European Union's law enforcement agency that fights serious international crime in Europe.

The group examines criminality processes and information networks to help police organisations identify leverage points to prevent or disrupt less visible criminal activities.

"Global organisations such as Europol are often constrained in terms of what they can or are allowed to do. For example, national law enforcement agencies aren’t always keen to share information. But they're undoubtedly making big steps in the right direction."