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Europol: Organised crime gangs turn more often to violence

Polish police break up a drugs gang earlier this week. © Europol

Organised crime gangs are turning more readily to violence, and present an increased danger to public security, according to a new report by Europol, the EU’s law enforcement agency.

The report, The Use of Violence by Organised Crime Groups (pdf), contains an analysis of incident reports sent by member states to Europol in recent years, and concludes that the number of violent incidents is increasing.

The increase in violent incidents is attributed to the increased availability of firearms and explosives, as well as the involvement in the gangs of younger members who use violence to assert themselves in the organisation. There is also a tendency to commit violent crimes in crowded public places and in broad daylight, where the public is more likely to be at risk.

Ports cities are particularly vulnerable to housing crime gangs and the violence they bring with them, one aspect of which is the corruption and intimidation of port workers to force them to cooperate with the gangs, for example in smuggling operations of various types: drugs, firearms and human beings.

And while the gang members themselves are often the victims of violence caused by rival gangs, the public does not escape, examples being the victims of human trafficking and violent robberies, law enforcement officers, lawyers, witnesses and informants, journalists and dock workers.

While organised crime groups have always been associated with violence, Europol is observing a spike in serious violent acts,”said Jari Liukku, head of Europol’s European Serious Organised Crime Centre.

This trend is unlikely to decrease in the short term as violence will grow from organised crime opening to diversity and competition, becoming more digitalised and expanding its global reach. The cooperation at regional and international level is of the utmost importance to tackle this threat posed by organised crime.”

Finally, the agency issues a series of recommendations on how law enforcement can tackle this new facet of organised crime:
• proactively anticipate trends and shifts in criminal markets and network structures;
adopt a comprehensive step-by-step approach which would include detection and deterrence (including by attacking criminal finances at an earlier stage);
focus on the processes and resources by which crimes are committed in order to identify choke points for intervention; and
continue to promote cooperation at regional and international levels.

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times