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Comparing the Democratic Governance of Police Intelligence

Comparing the Democratic Governance of Police Intelligence

New Models of Participation and Expertise in the United States and Europe

Edited by Thierry Delpeuch and Jacqueline E. Ross

"Intelligence-led policing" is an emerging movement of efforts to develop a more democratic approach to the governance of intelligence by expanding the types of expertise and the range of participants who collaborate in the networked governance of intelligence. This book examines how the partnership paradigm has transformed the ways in which participants gather, analyze, and use intelligence about security problems ranging from petty nuisances and violent crime to urban riots, organized crime, and terrorism. It explores changes in the way police and other security professionals define and prioritize these concerns and how the expanding range of stakeholders and the growing repertoire of solutions has transformed both the expertise and the deliberative processes involved.

Chapter 6: Intelligence-led policing and the disruption of organized crime: motifs, methods and morals

Nick Tilley

Subjects: law - academic, comparative law, criminal law and justice, law and society, terrorism and security law, politics and public policy, terrorism and security


Disruption has emerged as a major method of attempting to combat crime within and across jurisdictions. It is employed, in particular, in relation to organized crime (OC). The focus of and methods use for disruption are supposed to be selected on the basis of ‘intelligence’. This intelligence is constructed following the collection, assessment and analysis of information about the nature of the organized groups being targeted and their patterns of activity. The information can be drawn from a variety of sources, including, for example, community contacts, partner agencies, covert operations, informants, observations, police records and suspicious activity reports. This chapter focuses on the origins, methods and propriety of disruption as a way of tackling organized crime. It considers the relationship between disruption and crime detection and crime prevention as two other major roles the police play in relation to criminal problems. It proposes a tentative typology of techniques for disruption. It looks at the practicalities of delivering intelligence-based disruption of organized crime. Finally, it notes a number of ethical issues that disruption raises for policing. Security services and their precursors have a long history of using tactics intended to disrupt activities at home or abroad that are believed to jeopardize the state or its major institutions. In the military, the term ‘counterinsurgency’ is used to describe the forms of activity undertaken to try to subvert the activities of those deemed to be posing a threat. Sometimes tactics, often applied in conjunction with the police, could be coercive. For example in Malaya in 1948–49 a whole raft of tactics was used, including forced migration/deportation, rape, property destruction, mass arrests, collective punishment, indiscriminate stop and search, mass detention and assassination (Bennett 2009). Methods of collecting the intelligence to determine whom to target could include intrusive surveillance, cultivation of community informants, organizational infiltration, detention without trial, torture and physical threats, most of which were again used in Malaya in the late 1940s. There were efforts to deal with nascent movements by ‘nipping them in the bud’.

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