Policing fraud and organised crime

Authored by: Michael Levi

Handbook of Policing

Print publication date:  August  2008
Online publication date:  August  2012

Print ISBN: 9781843925002
eBook ISBN: 9780203118238
Adobe ISBN: 9781136308529


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This chapter deals with the policing of (at least) two categories of crime – organised crime and white-collar crime – that present even greater conceptual boundary problems than do others discussed in this book. Before I discuss policing, let us briefly review the behavioural context in which it takes place. Influenced as we are by profound cultural images of the Sicilian Mafia and the Italian-American Mafia that have brought The Godfather and The Sopranos to our screens, it is difficult not to be seduced by the assumption that this hierarchical, deeply embedded cultural and family mode of organisation is the natural evolution of serious crime: the general public, criminals and the police are all subjected to (and sometimes entranced by) these images of power and ‘threat to society’. However, long before his assassination in 1992, Italian Investigating Judge Falcone appreciated that this threat was much more complex than a subculture or alien conspiracy model, and that the organised crime phenomenon could not be controlled without tackling political and business alliances, as well as police, prosecutorial and judicial corruption. This is equally true of contemporary countries in the Balkans and elsewhere. 1 Where it is hard to develop corrupt alliances between criminal justice officials, politicians and suppliers of illicit commodities or predatory criminals, highly organised crime is unlikely to flourish, though there can be a lot of crime even where major long-term crime groups are absent. This is important because to the extent that organised criminals represent a set of people who are ‘really dangerous’ to the essential integrity of the state, and who trigger (especially in continental European legal systems) special investigative powers because of this threat, it would be helpful to know how special are their threats and what they constitute. Many ‘threat assessments’ contribute only modestly to this clarity.

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