The World of Tomorrow and the Rise of Individual Criminal Entrepreneurs

Satellite sending a signal around the Earth.The European Police Office (Europol) presented their view on the future of serious and organized crime in the European Union this month with the report “Exploring Tomorrow’s Organised Crime”. The release of this report comes at an opportune time for EU policymakers. The first full multi-annual policy cycle on serious and organized crime entered its third year in 2015, and as such now is an ideal time to look ahead and identify key trends and developments that will shape law enforcement and the wider environment of serious and organized crime.

Europol and law enforcement agencies across the world face a unique challenge in organized crime groups (OCGs). “Organised crime is dynamic and adaptable and law enforcement authorities across the EU are challenged to keep pace with the changing nature of this substantial and significant threat.” For this reason, law enforcement should make use of technological innovation and develop new investigative measures to counter the threat of organized crime.

According to the report, the future of serious and organized crime is “A virtual and global criminal underground made up of individual criminal entrepreneurs: [1] Using a crime-as-a-service business model and trading in diversified commodities [2] Relying on digital infrastructures, virtual currencies and infiltration [3] Targeting changing pools of victims and clients such as the elderly or legal business structures.”

The key drivers for the change in serious and organized crime include:

  • Innovation in transportation and logistics will enable OCGs to increasingly commit crime anonymously over the internet
  • Nanotechnology and robotics will open up new markets for organized crimes and deliver new tools for sophisticated criminal schemes
  • The increasing exploitation of Big Data
  • E-waste is emerging as a key illicit commodity for OCGs
  • Economic disparity across Europe is making organized crime more socially acceptable
  • OCGs will increasingly attempt to infiltrate industries depending on natural resources
  • Virtual currencies increasingly enable individuals to act as freelance criminal entrepreneurs operating on a crime-as-a-service business model
  • OCGs will increasingly target but also provide illicit services and goods to a growing population of elderly people exploiting new markets and opportunities

The changes caused by drivers identified by Europol may lead to a new definition of “organized crime” or a distinction between “traditional” and “modern” organized crime. This distinction comes mainly from the loose networks existing in cyber. Europol insists:

“Organised crime will undergo these changes whether or not experts agree on a new definition of organised crime and it is imperative for law enforcement to seriously consider the factors and driving forces that will shape serious and organised crime over the coming years.”

Read the report here on the HSDL website. Login may be required.

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