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Trafficking and organised crime

Organised crime poses complex challenges to local authorities, especially with regard to the globally connected nature of some organised crime groups that operate and manifest themselves locally. The prevention and reduction of organised crime demands policies and practices that strengthen the capacities of local and regional authorities to collect data, monitor organised crime activities and intervene where appropriate to reduce the harm caused. In addition, information-sharing and cooperation processes between local regional and national authorities need to be accelerated. Comprehensive policies should focus on the empowerment of vulnerable communities that are susceptible to being targeted by organised crime. Local authorities need to develop strategies that promote a culture of legality, include initiatives representing multiple segments of society and reinforce relations between municipal institutions, local businesses and local citizens.

A summary of the key lessons from the research in the field of preventing and reducing trafficking and organised crime is presented below.

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Key Lessons

  1. The dominant approaches to organised crime and trafficking remain ones focused on law enforcement through policing, prosecution and punishment, however given their limited effectiveness as prevention strategies, some municipalities have increasingly deployed a variety of administrative measures and ordinances with some success.
  2. Law enforcement strategies should focus on reducing violence related to organised crime, as well as protecting state institutions from infiltration from organised crime groups.
  3. Disrupting the business model and underlying structures of organised crime provides opportunities for crime prevention – including, for example, the closure of premises, the seizure of assets and revoking permits under municipal by-laws.
  4. Organised crime groups are constantly adapting in response to changes in technology, legislation and demand for services, hence there is a need to monitor situations and adapt policies accordingly.
  5. Research suggests a need to examine and understand the underlying drivers facilitating the trafficking of human beings - i.e. contributing industry sectors, to target responses – and to foster policies promoting inclusion and integration of marginalised communities, reducing their dependence on crime and the illicit economy.
  6. Cross-border problems require cross-border solutions. Cross-jurisdictional collaboration between origin and destination countries helps us to further understand the underlying context driving the supply and demand of phenomena such as human trafficking, potentially enabling more effective measures to be implemented in response.
  7. Studies highlight the importance of multi-agency partnerships and inter-agency cooperation. Holistic responses are required to address the inherent complexity of the phenomenon of organised crime and trafficking. These are enhanced where a clearly defined framework of responsibilities and accountability between partners is adopted. Ineffective partnerships and a lack of information sharing are the most common reasons for implementation failure.