New Models of Participation and Expertise in the United States and Europe
Edited by Thierry Delpeuch and Jacqueline E. Ross
Chapter 6: Intelligence-led policing and the disruption of organized crime: motifs, methods and morals
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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