HEUNI Paper No. 11
Anticipating instead of Preventing:
Using the Potential of Crime Risk Assessment
in Order to Minimize the Risks of Organized and Other Types of Crime
The European Institute for Crime Prevention and Control,
affiliated with the United Nations
This document is available electronically from
The European Institute for
Crime Prevention and Control,
affiliated with the United Nations
Table of Contents
1. On the necessity of crime prevention 4
2. Organized crime: a problematic issue in terms of prevention 5
3. A potential solution; anticipation /early awareness of crime risks 6
4. A particular concern: law reform outside of the crime sector 7
4.1 Examples of crime risk categories of particular relevance in this context 7
4.1.1 Money laundering 7
4.1.2 Corruption 7
4.1.3 Purposeful infiltration of legal business 8
4.1.4 Falsification of documents 8
5. Assessing organized crime risks in the context of legislative reforms; presentation of a potential method for anticipation 8
6. Three case studies 9
6.1 Basel convention on the control of transboundary movements of hazardous wastes and their disposal 11
6.2 Directives on public procurement within the European Union/ European Community 12
6.3. Draft treaty on the Multilateral Agreement on Investment 15
7. Lessons learned; why potential crime risks are considered only partially or not at all in law reform work that creates the potential for profit-making 18
8. Ideas for further exploration of the issue 20
9. Concluding remarks 21
Annex I 26
ANTICIPATING INSTEAD OF PREVENTING: USING THE POTENTIAL OF CRIME RISK ASSESSMENT IN ORDER TO MINIMIZE THE RISKS OF ORGANIZED AND OTHER TYPES OF CRIME
Crime prevention as an option in the control of crime is gaining momentum. A recent United Nations resolution states that "the prevention of crime through non-punitive measures is to be considered an important complement to the administration of criminal law" (ECOSOC, para. 1). The resolution further maintains that "the concept of crime prevention should not be limited to conventional forms of crime, including domestic violence, but should encompass new forms of crime, such as organized crime, terrorism, illegal trafficking in migrants, computer and cybercrimes, environmental crime, corruption and illegal commerce related to the acquisition and development of weapons to mass destruction" (op. cit., para. 2). Furthermore, account should also be taken of "the growing internationalization of criminal activities and the relationship between the global economy, advanced technologies and national phenomena of crime" (op. cit., para. 3). It would thus be advisable always to consider any law reform programme in the context of a social activity involving the potential for crime from two angles - both that of the law enforcement and that of prevention.
There is wide consensus that it is not enough to control crime through reactive intervention and punitive means alone. The deterrent effect of coercion - whether we are thinking of individual or general deterrence - in the traditional sense of the concept does not always work very well in modern society (see, e.g. Ashworth, pp. 1097-1098). As Pease points out, "we should constantly remind ourselves that, in crime, we have a set of actions or omissions united only in their proscription by law" (Pease, p. 963). According to Pease, "because an action is a crime, this does not mean that the best way to control it is through the police and the courts. The behaviour itself must be understood, to determine where change could best be brought about" (op. cit., p. 963). Similarly, Graham and Bennett are of the opinion that "during the 1970s and 1980s there was a rapid loss of faith in the ability of the criminal justice system to reduce crime or criminality" (Graham & Bennett, p. 1). In sum, "crime, disorder and fear of crime have become major concerns for the government and many communities. Traditional responses to these concerns - such as more police and tougher penalties - are no longer sufficient as the benefits of intervening before crime is committed become more and more evident" (Glanfield, p. x). Consequently, and particularly with the concern over the increasing risk of transnational organized crime, great efforts to develop preventive strategies can be observed both nationally and internationally (see, e.g. Lely & van Toorn; European Union, Action Plan).
Various categorizations have been developed in order to describe approaches to crime prevention (see, e.g. Graham & Bennett, pp. 5-7). One well-known classification in this area is the following typology:
- 'Criminality prevention' (also called 'social' or 'offender oriented' crime prevention);
- 'Situational crime prevention'; and
- 'Community crime prevention' (op. cit., p. 7).
2. Organized crime: a problematic issue in terms of prevention
Situational and community prevention are applied, as a rule, in response to observed criminal activity1. Criminality prevention, on the other hand, aims at the socialization of potential offenders. Thus, criminality prevention targets risk groups and individuals before the initiation of criminal careers2. All this, however, reflects the preoccupation of societies, both national and international, primarily with traditional mass or conventional crime.
However, organized crime and other types of so-called modern crime, as listed in the ECOSOC resolution mentioned above - whether national or transnational in character - pose a problem in this respect. Profit-making could be understood to be the major goal of all kinds of criminal activities in this category - even gaining power can be seen just as a means of reaching that goal (cf. Arlacchi, p. 205) - if we put aside the cases of pure negligence (as is the case with some environmental crime) or mischievousness (as is the case with some computer and cybercrime/crackers). In addition, "developments that have made it possible to move goods, people and money through the global economy - and have traditionally been regarded by international political economy specialists as positive and benign in their effects - have facilitated the movement of 'dirty money', as well as the transportation of drugs, arms, illegal aliens, and nuclear material" (Godson & Williams, pp. 3 - 4). The result, according to Williams, is that "criminals, in effect, ignore or transcend borders in the pursuit of profit, but use variations in national laws, in the effectiveness of criminal justice systems, and in the efficiency and effectiveness of law enforcement bodies to minimize the risk that they will be apprehended or punished" (Williams, p. 2).
These facts make it rather difficult to develop workable prevention efforts to combat modern types of illegal acts within the classifications mentioned. Criminality prevention will rarely be relevant and viable in this context due to the nature of the offences, although, according to Godson and Williams "preventive educational programs in primary and secondary schools throughout the world - what specialists refer to as 'legal socialization' - might turn out to be an important ingredient in the overall global strategic mix", since "already some regions have created civic education programs to counter crime and corruption" (Godson & Williams, p. 34). They give as an example the city of Palermo in Italy, where 25 000 children every year attend an educational program designed to change the cultural norms that allow the Mafia to flourish.
As Arlacchi points out, "a number of studies have shown that we are faced with rational economic phenomena and well-structured 'industries'. Illegal markets have much in common with their legal counterparts" (Arlacchi, p. 204). Similarly, Williams claims that "indeed some of the major organizations that have emerged have more in common with major transnational corporations than they do with the old style mob" (Williams, p. 2). Community prevention and situational prevention might sometimes provide a feasible frame of reference, but in a great majority of cases they are not viable either. There are several reasons for this. First, as a rule the preventive efforts are not carried out but until at a fairly late stage, very often not before various interest groups have started demanding that something be done. It might not be easy to introduce a new measure, especially since these measures often hit legal and illegal activities alike. Business life, for example, is not necessarily happy with retroactive preventive measures imposed by policy makers. Such measures can easily be experienced as infringement and red tape. Second, more often than not the offenders are several steps ahead of the designers of the prevention strategies, which means that the policy makers in the field in question will have to be involved in a continuous struggle against time3, since, as Mueller writes, "the ingenuity of transnational criminal organizers and organzations may outrun our contemporary efforts" (Mueller, p. 15). Lastly, successful prevention in this sector sometimes would call for the changing of deeply rooted behaviour patterns of entire populations (cf. the Palermo example quoted above).