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Organised crime threat assessments : a critical review

[journal article]

Zoutendijk, Andries Johannes

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Abstract Since the beginning of the 21st century, several national and international government agencies have initiated organised crime threat assessments. Additionally, a few scholars have published methods to assess the risks and threats of organised crime. These governmental bodies and scholars claim that their reports and methods can demonstrate that certain forms of organised crime are more threatening than others and thus help policy-makers set strategic priorities. In this article I discuss these claims by examining the reliability and validity of the operational definitions of the key concepts used, such as organised crime, threat and risk. This examination reveals that most reports and methods provide insufficient detail—and sometimes even no details at all—to guarantee the reliability and validity of their operational definitions. The search for validity is made particularly difficult by the ambiguity surrounding the concepts of organised crime, threat and risk, while the concept of cost is less problematic. Moreover, establishing what constitutes a threat is at its core a normative decision that cannot be left to intelligence analysts or scientists alone. The challenge ahead lies in acknowledging the normative framework of organised crime threat assessments and within that framework maximising the reliability and validity of the operational definitions of key concepts and related measuring instruments.
Keywords organized crime; threat; risk assessment; evaluation; measurement
Classification Criminal Sociology, Sociology of Law
Document language English
Publication Year 2010
Page/Pages p. 63-86
Journal Crime, Law and Social Change, 54 (2010) 1
Status Postprint; peer reviewed
Licence PEER Licence Agreement (applicable only to documents from PEER project)