COUNCIL OF EUROPE
COMMITTEE OF MINISTERS
to Recommendation Rec(1996)8
on Europe in a time of change: crime policy and criminal law
(Adopted by the Committee of Ministers
on 5 September 1996,
at the 572nd meeting of the Ministers' Deputies)
Following proposals put forward by the European Committee on Crime Problems (CDPC), the Intergovernmental Programme of Activities of the Council of Europe for 1992 contained a new greater Europe project entitled Europe in a time of change: crime policy and criminal law.
The objective of the project was to anticipate the situation that might result, and the problems that might arise, from changes in eastern, central and western Europe and to plan for the necessary measures.
Such changes were seen to stem from a variety of causes that included the opening of the internal borders of the European Union, the freedom of movement of persons in the greater Europe, as well as demographic and political changes at large.
A group of specialists was assembled by the Secretary General for the purpose of preparing terms of reference to be given to the project group “Europe in a time of change: crime policy and criminal law” (PC-TP), entrusted with carrying out the project.
The project group held six meetings, from December 1992 to March 1996. Having worked on the basis of replies to a questionnaire that it drew up and circulated to member states, the project group submitted to the European Committee on Crime Problems (CDPC) two texts, namely a. a draft report on the structure and volume of changes in crime in Europe and b. the present memorandum and the draft recommendation to which it refers.
The draft recommendation was examined and approved by the CDPC at its forty-fifth plenary session in June 1996. The present explanatory memorandum was adopted on the same occasion.
At the 572nd meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies, the Committee of Ministers adopted Recommendation No. R (96) 8 and authorised the publication of this explanatory memorandum thereto.
The text of the recommendation is in two parts, namely “domestic responses to crime” and “international responses to crime”.
The terms of reference given to the group also included violent behaviour implying intolerance and exclusion. On 9 October 1993, the summit meeting of heads of state and government of the Council of Europe member states decided to establish a committee of governmental experts, named the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance, to deal with these matters. The group therefore decided not to include these phenomena as a main topic of its work. According to Resolution No. 2 of the 19th Conference of European Ministers of Justice (Valletta, 14-15 June 1994), the group contributed in a most appropriate way to the work of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance by making available to it all the material it had on that topic.
The recommendation does not deal specifically with terrorism even though the drafters recognised that there is an operational link between terrorism and organised crime due to the financial requirements of the former. However, they also deemed that terrorism raised specific issues that would be better dealt with on their own merits.
Specific comments on each item
I. Domestic responses to crime
a. In general
1. Every response to crime must conform to the basic principles of democratic states governed by the rule of law and subject to the paramount aim of guaranteeing respect for human rights.
The Council of Europe is an organisation devoted to the unity of Europe, pluralistic democracy, the rule of law and the protection of human rights.
Democracy, the rule of law and human rights are three areas through which one may analyse the fabric of political power in society and, in particular, the interface between political power and the individual in order to ensure the protection of the latter against oppression, arbitrariness, tyranny and injustice. Criminal law in general, including procedural law and practice, are central in this respect.
The European Convention on Human Rights, along with other international instruments, including many texts adopted by the Council of Europe in the field of crime problems as in other fields, embody a set of principles and standards that – it is recalled in this item – may not be departed from, not even in purporting to respond to crime.
2. Therefore, however serious the situation of a society might be with respect to crime, any measures aimed at dealing with that situation that do not take account of the values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law are inadmissible.
Policy makers should be aware that there are no ready-made responses to crime, irrespective of place, time and circumstances. Different from one country to another, in all countries society changes and grows in complexity; so do its requirements and those of the individuals. The law must follow suit. In so doing, it should contribute to the development of society; it should also respond in a better and more efficient fashion to the needs of both society and the individual.
There are limits to what society is entitled to do in fighting crime. With respect to Council of Europe member states, the above-mentioned principles set out such limits.
3. It must be one of the fundamental functions of criminal justice to safeguard the interests of the victims of crime. To this end it is necessary both to enhance the confidence of victims in criminal justice and to have adequate regard, within the criminal justice system, to the physical, psychological, material and social harm suffered by victims.
The wording of this item follows closely the terms of Recommendation No. R (85) 11 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on the position of the victim in the framework of criminal law and procedure.
For a long time, the criminal procedure was very much a state-offender relationship. As a result, the victim often had to cope with difficulties of different sorts leading to a further form of victimisation, called by some “secondary victimisation”. In modern times, however, the part that the victim is called upon to play in the criminal justice system has grown and is presently widely accepted as a priority consideration of the system. The protection of the victim has become for Council of Europe members a prime aim of crime policy.
4. No society is crime-free, and thus the main objective of crime policy cannot be to eliminate crime but rather to contain crime at the lowest possible limits.
In order to be effective, crime policy must be realistic and thus avoid setting itself unachievable aims. It is important to keep in mind that, further to the limits on what society is entitled to do on grounds of principles, there also are limits to what it can do on grounds of effectiveness.
5. Subject to the above principles, each member state should have a coherent and rational crime policy directed towards the prevention of crime, including social prevention (for example social and economic policy, education, information, and so on) and situational prevention (for example measures to reduce the opportunities and means of committing offences, and so on), the individualisation of criminal reactions, the promotion of alternatives to custodial sentences, the social reintegration of offenders and the provision of assistance to victims.
Responses to crime should have clearly identified aims and be integrated within a coherent and rational crime policy. Further to the aim mentioned in the preceding item, other aims of crime policy are stated in this item, that are deemed to be universally applicable in the context of present-day Europe.
As regards social and situational prevention, examples are given in order to clarify the meaning ascribed to these terms.
With respect to sanctions, member states will consider the possibility of introducing or re-enforcing the role of non-custodial measures. In certain cases, however, depending on the kind and nature of crimes, preference will be given to adequate forms of imprisonment, in particular, sentences passed on persons found guilty of particularly serious crimes of violence.
6. On drawing up crime policy, governments should take advice from and actively co-operate with professionals directly concerned with the implementation of the policy; they should at the same time take advice from scientists in different fields having a bearing on crime policy.
There can be no effective crime policy without active support, not only from large sectors of the public, but especially from those who are professionally involved in the criminal justice system. This also includes judges. Of course, the independence of the judiciary and the sovereign power of judges to decide on individual cases must not be at stake. The rule of law as it stems inter alia from Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights must be respected. Active support from judges can be obtained by consulting the judiciary before legislating and before defining crime policy.
Support from and involvement of other professionals, for example, therapists, mediators and probation officers, is also important.
In designing crime policies, it is equally important to take on board the results of the reflection and the research of scientists in the field of criminology, but also, depending on circumstances, in other fields such as sociology, economy, administration sciences, and so on.
7. Both because social, economic and other measures often have a direct impact on crime and because effective crime prevention requires a stable environment, crime policy must be co-ordinated with other policies.
Certain policies, as well as the organisation of markets and regulatory measures in general, might have an adverse effect on crime. The extent to which they might produce such an effect should therefore be assessed against the hypothetical values pursued by such policies or measures. This may often be a difficult choice, although a choice that policy-makers must be aware of.
8. To this end it is advisable in particular that states create either a crime policy co-ordination unit within central government or a horizontal structure for co-operation between the relevant bodies; it is further advisable that states encourage the development of crime prevention strategies at local or regional level. Council of Europe work in the field of crime problems, and in particular this recommendation, aims, inter alia, at bringing some degree of harmonisation, deemed necessary, between the crime policies of member states. Within each state, subject of course to constitutional requirements, crime policy is better and most effectively designed and served at the highest possible level of government where it can be co-ordinated with other, related, policies.
Crime prevention strategies in broad terms might also be recommendable at central level. In France, for example, there is a centralised strategy that appears to be successful. Experience however shows, for example in English towns and in German Länder, that crime prevention requires closeness to its target groups and therefore should be conducted at regional and local levels.
9. Governments should participate regularly and actively in international schemes for the collection of relevant statistical information on crime.
It is mentioned elsewhere in this report that one way of informing the public about crime problems is by publishing international statistical comparisons. The latter can also be of prime importance for governments when formulating their policies. In this context, special reference should be made to the Council of Europe Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics and the United Nations periodic crime surveys. Both sources depend largely on the active co-operation of governments and national correspondents.
10. Material and non-material costs to society of crime in general should be weighed against the costs of crime control.
Cost effectiveness in crime policies should not be overlooked. On the one hand, the level of the costs of crime control should be kept in proportion when compared with the damage caused to society by crime. On the other hand, comparing internationally levels of costs and crime rates can be useful in assessing the cost effectiveness of crime policies.
11. The public must be kept informed of crime problems. Neither crime policy nor, indeed, the criminal justice system can be effective without a favourable public attitude and even active participation by the public.
The co-operation of the public is indispensable in carrying out any crime policy. This means both information passed on to the public and participation of the public. The public must thus be kept informed of crime problems, for example by way of factual information, reliable statistics, both national and comparative, learned commentaries, and so on. Frequently the public’s perception of the situation of a given society with respect to crime is out of proportion, and comparison with the situation in other countries is lacking. The public attitude with respect, for example, to racial violence or Mafia-style organisations is a fundamental element in any strategy against these phenomena. The mass media have a responsible role to play in this.
This recommendation is not designed to infringe on the rights of victims and other persons to privacy in the courtroom, in particular where the interests of juveniles or the protection of the private life of the parties so require.
The public should participate both a. in designing, and thus supporting, crime policies and b. in carrying them out. NGOs can play an important role in this respect. In democracies, the former is achieved in general terms, by way of elections and election campaigns, provided that crime policies are discussed by the political parties running for the elections. Moreover, at local level the public should be encouraged to participate in implementing the policies where parents are involved in preventing criminality in school areas, for example.
On the other hand, in recommending more participation from the public, it must be kept in mind that the public cannot take over the function of criminal prosecution. Tendencies of revenge and vigilantism must be avoided.
The participation of jurors and lay assessors in criminal judgments also constitutes a means of involving the public in crime problems.
b. With respect to economic crime
12. Measures should be taken in order to make the criminal justice system better fitted to deal effectively with the sophisticated business transactions that conceal economic crime or themselves constitute economic crimes.
Very often economic crime, especially economic crime that is most dangerous for society, materialises in the way of, or is concealed behind, business transactions of a very sophisticated nature. In order to detect such crimes, investigate them and bring together evidence leading to an indictment, the criminal justice system, including the police, prosecutors, investigating magistrates and judges, must have means, including expertise and procedural means, as sophisticated as the facts that they are dealing with.
Moreover, both in terms of changing economies (changing circumstances leading to quick, frequent changes in the rules) and in terms of integrating economies (thousands of European Union rules), it is often seen by many as useful to aggregate economic offences into a single comprehensive act, or possibly into a specific chapter of the criminal code, both stating the general principles and promptly reflecting the changes often introduced in special rules.
13. Administrative law, commercial law, tax law, competition law and civil law should be called upon more often to play an active part in countering economic crime.
Again, because very often economic crime materialises in the way of business transactions of a very sophisticated nature, involving, either administrative law (for example, because they involve the powers of regulatory agencies), or commercial law (for example, dealings in stock), or tax law, these – and perhaps other branches of law – must, as far as possible, be made to be instrumental to the criminal justice system. By way of examples: actions for damages were successful in recent cases of capital investment fraud, upon arguments relating to culpa in contrahendo; administrative orders may be used in order to stop business operations; claims for damages under civil law may serve a preventive purpose.
14. Prosecutors, investigating magistrates and judges dealing with economic crime should be given special training.
The text is not recommending the specialisation of judges. However, the complexities of economic crime require that investigators, prosecutors and judges called upon to deal exclusively or frequently with that kind of crime are given special training to that effect, or are given the possibility of receiving such training.
15. Where appropriate, economic crime should be dealt with in specialised chambers.
For the same reason, it should be useful to provide for specialised chambers, not specialised courts, to deal with economic crime.
16. Provisions relating to time limitations should be reviewed in order to allow the competent authorities sufficient time to gather evidence in economic crime cases.
Cases of economic crime are often complex and gathering evidence may prove lengthy. Time limitations should be such as to take care of that.
17. Rules governing evidence should be designed in such a manner as to pay due attention to the requirements of fighting against economic and organised crime.
The fight against economic crime Europe-wide has not been very effective in the past. In particular, the number of convictions for economic crime does not reflect the volume of crime. This situation is probably related not only to difficulties in gathering evidence, but also the rules governing evidence in general. In introducing and implementing changes, one should keep in mind, in particular, Article 6, paragraph 2, of the European Convention on Human Rights.
18. Rules governing bank secrecy should not impede effective action against economic and organised crime.
Rules governing bank secrecy should be adapted to the requirements of the fight against money laundering, including administrative controls to that effect. In this respect professional privileges should also be reviewed, especially with respect to legal professionals acting for third parties by way of opening bank accounts or establishing companies.
In this respect, reference should be made to the recommendations adopted within the framework of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
19. The range of sanctions available in respect of persons convicted of economic offences should include disqualification from engaging in certain economic activities for a given period of time.
Disqualification from engaging in a certain economic activity, or in a certain category of economic activities, for a given period of time, where applied to persons convicted for economic offences, is deemed to meet the requirement of individualisation of the sentence while having a preventive effect on offenders, and possibly also on would-be offenders.
20. Provision should be made, either for the liability of corporate bodies for criminal offences, or for other measures with similar effect.
Some European countries have introduced the principle of criminal liability of corporate bodies, in one way or another, either in general terms or in specific terms. Other countries are considering that possibility.
From a practical, crime policy, viewpoint, the principle might be worth considering, in particular with a view to enforcing standards for different activities, for examples, financial activities of corporations.
It is recognised that the principle is less effective where major enterprises are in the public sector. A possible alternative consists in developing the concept of co-participation in such a way as to ensure the punishment of all those actively involved in the decision-making process that led to, and made possible, the offence.
It should be recalled that the introduction of the principle of criminal liability for corporate bodies must be accompanied by a list of applicable sanctions since some widely applied sanctions, for example imprisonment, do not apply to corporate bodies for obvious reasons.
This recommendation also applies to the requirements of the fight against organised crime.
Administrative sanctions should also be used in this context, either adding to, or instead of, criminal liability. Administrative law often provides for a greater variety of possible measures than criminal law.
c. With respect to organised crime
21. Governments should consider the possibility of making it an offence to belong to or support an organised crime association.
The term “organised crime” is widely used without hesitation. It corresponds to something meaningful. It appears, therefore, possible to define organised crime. It is also advisable to do so, for the following reasons. Firstly, in view of the rule of law. Secondly, because one cannot effectively fight against something that remains undefined. In particular, the borderline between criminal organisations and gangs should be clarified. Thirdly, a definition is also necessary for criminological purposes. Finally, a definition is necessary for the purpose of securing international mutual legal assistance.
Legal definitions of, or references to, organised crime can be found, for instance, in the legislation of Austria, France, Italy, Portugal, Switzerland and Turkey, as well as in the draft criminal code of the Russian Federation.
The following points are common to most definitions of criminal organisation: a. a group of persons, b. each having his own specific role, c. brought together in a structured way, d. for the purpose of committing an undetermined number of offences. It goes without saying that criminal organisations are profit-oriented.
Criminal organisations are in themselves a threat, a bigger threat than individual criminals. Belonging to such an organisation means for the person concerned that he wilfully participates in organised activities that are dangerous to society. His individual liability in belonging to and participating in the criminal organisation is distinct from sharing responsibility for crimes committed by the organisation. It is also distinct from corporate criminal liability.
22. Governments should endeavour to develop a good knowledge of the features of criminal organisations and to share that knowledge with the governments of other member states.
Sophisticated and secretive as they most often are, it is usually difficult to learn, not only about the existence of criminal organisations, but also about their features, including their modus operandi. More must be known about such organisations in order to better fight against them. That knowledge should be actively sought and then shared amongst member states.
23. Governments should act on the basis of a strategy, in particular by using intelligence and crime analysis to achieve identified aims.
For the purposes of this recommendation, intelligence means collecting and analysing information before enough evidence is available for criminal proceedings, or even regardless of any evidence of criminal deeds. It should be part of an integrated strategy aimed at detecting crime and analysing trends in criminality.
The recommendation concerns intelligence means, not intelligence agencies.
24. Specialised police, investigation and prosecutorial structures should be created and vested with means to carry out financial investigation and computerised analysis systems.
Emphasis is placed on financial expertise but one should be aware that other expertise may be very important.
Where possible, police, investigation and prosecutorial structures should be centralised. By this it is meant that investigation and prosecution structures, specialised in organised crime, with jurisdiction over the whole territory of the country should exist (see item 28). That is the case, for instance with the Belgian “magistrat national”. Short of being centralised, such structures should be co-ordinated at national level. Indeed, organised criminal activities usually do not limit themselves to specific areas, but rather cover most of the territory of the country involved, if not the territories of various states. Therefore, the fight against organised crime must be both nation-wide and international. In both cases centralised structures or centralised co-ordination are necessary.
Persons or agencies having recourse to computerised data processing and storage must, of course, comply with standards for the protection of personal data.
25. Adequate protection for witnesses and other participants in proceedings relating to the fight against organised crime should be provided for.
Most often witnesses, but also other persons involved in criminal proceedings, or called upon to intervene in court proceedings, for example, experts and victims, are prone to being threatened and other forms of pressure from criminal organisations. Experience shows that in many instances such threats and pressures have deprived courts of the kind of evidence that otherwise would probably have led to the conviction of criminals.
Hence the need exists to afford adequate protection to such persons, without losing sight of the protection that is also due to judges, public prosecutors and law enforcement authorities.
Reference should be made to ongoing Council of Europe work aimed at preparing recommendations to governments on the protection of witnesses and the rights of the defence.
26. Interception of communications – both telecommunications and direct communications – should be envisaged in order to cope better with the requirements of fighting against criminal organisations.
Interception of communications includes overhearing conversations, telephone and telefax tapping, and so on.
The use of such measures should be in proportion with the seriousness of the cases in question.
Reference should be made to Recommendation No. R (95) 13 concerning problems of criminal procedural law connected with information technology.
27. Money laundering should be made an offence and provisions made for the search, seizure and confiscation of the proceeds of crime.
In this respect, reference should be made to the Council of Europe’s Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure and Confiscation of the Proceeds from Crime.
Recovering the proceeds of crime is also an important objective.
28. Governments should envisage the possibility of providing for an investigation/prosecution magistrate with jurisdiction over the entire national territory, or providing for the establishment of a central co-ordination body.
Often organised and economic crime cover different sectors of society in different geographical locations, within one or more countries. The fight against such phenomena within any given country can be more effective where a certain degree of centralisation ensures unity of action and avoids delays and divergences between competing authorities.
II. International responses to crime
a. In general
29. Governments should:
– improve as far as possible their ratification position with regard to the European Conventions on Extradition (ETS No. 24) and Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters (ETS No. 30), their additional protocols (ETS Nos. 86, 98 and 99) the additional Protocol to the European Convention on Information on Foreign Law (ETS No. 97), as well as the Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons (ETS No. 112) and the Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure and Confiscation of the Proceeds from Crime (ETS No. 141);
– review their need to uphold reservations and declarations made when ratifying the above-mentioned European conventions on extradition and mutual assistance;
– exchange between competent authorities of the member states information on those parts of domestic legislation which appear to be relevant for handling requests for co-operation in criminal matters based on the different conventions;
– provide, when requested by another government, information and other forms of assistance for drafting domestic legislation on criminal matters, in particular those which have international features (for example computer crime, environmental crime, fraud, organised crime) with a view to member states adopting domestic legislation which is compatible and harmonised with legislation in other member states, in such a manner as to make international co-operation both possible and uncomplicated;
– exchange, where appropriate, liaison magistrates with other governments, especially those with whom co-operation is more intensive, with a view to assisting the competent authorities when drafting or executing requests for legal co-operation and, moreover, to contributing to harmonising procedures and reducing delays;
– organise seminars for the competent authorities on particular subjects related to international co-operation;
– set up exchange programmes for judicial authorities, in particular judges and prosecutors specialised in organised and economic crime, with a view to enabling them to visit their counterparts in other member states for short periods and acquaint themselves with the working methods and legal systems in other member states;
– examine the advisability of developing amongst member states a computerised information network including all components of criminal justice systems in member states, as well as a database containing, inter alia, legislation and case-law.
Crime in general is becoming more and more international. Responses to crime therefore should also be international. In particular within the European area, where a certain unity of standards has been achieved, the fight against crime should be co-ordinated and based upon harmonised crime policies.
In the course of the last four decades, the Council of Europe has opened for signature some twenty international treaties in the field of crime problems.1 In so doing, the Council of Europe envisaged that all its members would become parties thereto. In some cases, ratification has been delayed because the procedures with a view to ratification are long. In other cases, technical difficulties have arisen that the competent instances of the Council of Europe are endeavouring to resolve. In most cases it is possible for members to become parties. An encouragement to that effect might be helpful, bearing in mind that many such treaties are of prime importance in this context. European non-member states alike, where possible under the terms of each convention, might find it beneficial to become parties to these treaties.
Experience shows that the conventions listed in this recommendation are more likely to be readily ratified by states than the other conventions. The choice behind that list is therefore based on pragmatism rather than on technical considerations.
In some cases, technical difficulties arose that obliged signatory states to such treaties to introduce reservations that limit their scope. Again, the competent instances of the Council of Europe endeavour to resolve such difficulties, making it possible for states to withdraw, totally or partially, their reservations.
Speeding up the practical application of the conventions may be achieved, for example, by way of a. introducing time limits for compliance with the requests, b. providing for direct channels of communication between judicial and/or other authorities and c. reducing the number of appeals admissible.
Existing instruments of European co-operation in the field of crime problems should, as far as possible, be simplified, improved, modernised and refined. Standard forms both simplify the procedure and solve language difficulties.
Presently, the Council of Europe publishes regularly updated information aimed at assisting states when applying instruments for legal co-operation in criminal matters. It includes guides to national procedures relating both to extradition and the transfer of sentenced persons, charts showing the state of signatures and ratification of Council of Europe conventions, the text of declarations and reservations entered by parties to such conventions, legislation, case-law, and so on. Both governments and the Council of Europe should be encouraged to create information sites containing that and eventually other kind of data and make it available to member states through the new communication services – of which the Internet is an example. Thus, authorities in each member state would have remote immediate access to such information.
Subject to the availability of appropriate devices ensuring the protection of the secrecy of data transmitted, communications between parties within the framework of legal co-operation should also be exchanged via the new computerised communication services.
30. Governments should bear in mind existing structures for police and judicial co-operation, such as ICPO-Interpol, and make optimal use of them.
Existing structures for police and judicial co-operation, rather than new structures, should be used in order to face both organised and economic crime.
31. Training of judges, prosecutors and police officers should take into account international aspects of crime as well as international co-operation instruments and practices.
Both economic and organised crime present specific features. It is indispensable that judges, prosecutors and police officers called upon to deal with such phenomena are familiar with such features. Thus the need for adequate initial as well as in-service training.
Considering that both economic and organised crime often involve more than one state, training should take into account international aspects of crime as well as international co-operation instruments and practices
32. In the long term, existing structures of mutual assistance based on the traditional concept of separate states might be complemented by adequate measures of co-operation and be improved by the creation of new supra-national structures for the judiciary.
This item anticipates possible developments in European co-operation in criminal matters.
All the details of the new structures of co-operation should be regulated by national law as well as international conventions. This includes the need for clearly identifying legal and political responsibility concerning foreign acts of intrusion carried out by officials on foreign territory. Some concrete proposals in this respect can be found in paragraph 3.3 of the Council of Europe’s report on responses to developments in the volume and structure of crime in Europe in a time of change.
b. With respect to economic and organised crime
33. European standards should be adopted on mutual legal assistance involving the use of sensitive data.
The expression “sensitive data” means information relating to ongoing procedures concerning the personality and/or privacy of individuals, or concerning business secrets of companies. Such data must not be disclosed or used for any purpose other than the purpose for which they were collected.
Electronically processed and stored data, including data banks, criminal records, intelligence data, and so on, must not be used within mutual legal assistance procedures, unless subject to generally accepted standards. In particular, requirements must be laid down under which such data may be used as evidence in court.
34. European standards should be adopted on mutual assistance for the purpose of the use of telecommunications in the giving of evidence.
Reference should be made to Recommendation No. R (85) 10 on letters rogatory for the interception of telecommunications.
35. Procedures should be developed on simultaneous and co-ordinated multilateral mutual legal assistance between three or more countries.
In economic as well as organised crime, cases often concern many countries at the same time. In particular, the international recovery of proceeds of crime often requires simultaneous action by authorities in different states. Practical, rather than legal, arrangements should be planned for that purpose.
36. Bearing in mind existing structures for police co-operation, methods should be provided for better co-ordination of police teams working together across borders in the investigation of given cases.
International police co-operation is presently carried out through Interpol and other structures. Optimisation of the use of existing police co-operation structures can be sought, as opposed to multiplying such structures.
However, transborder police co-operation must be more effective and might usefully be carried out on the basis of bilateral arrangements. The latter could be facilitated if it could draw on a menu of previously established models.
37. Controlled delivery techniques and the use of undercover agents should be studied at international level.
Controlled delivery techniques, of goods as well as money, are being used in a number of countries without legal cover. The legal issues involved must be solved, preferably in a harmonised way, in particular the question of the borderline between provocation and instigation, as well as questions concerning the admissibility of evidence.
Account should be taken of studies carried out under the auspices of the United Nations at the time of the preparation of the 1988 United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.
38. Provision should be made for setting up international multi-disciplinary expert teams working together in given cases.
Experience shows that the investigation of a great number of cases of economic and/or organised crime requires expertise in different fields and in different countries. Thus the practical need to set up international multi-disciplinary teams of experts to assist the competent authorities in such investigations. Such teams might include, for example, lawyers, economists, auditors, financial experts, business administrators, and so on.
39. International administrative assistance should be provided for and made available to national control authorities with jurisdiction over areas that are prone to economic crime.
The reference to international administrative assistance implies a distinction with international legal assistance. It includes, among other things, assistance between tax and customs authorities, as well as regulatory agencies for financial markets, for example, the Cob in France. It also includes co-operation between administrative authorities involved in the fight against corruption and money laundering.
40. Efforts should be undertaken in order to find the right balance and the necessary co-ordination between international administrative assistance and mutual legal assistance in criminal matters.
Over the last few years, various forms of international co-operation have been developed between national administrative authorities responsible for enforcing and controlling the application of certain fields of law, in particular economic and fiscal law. Such co-operation consists mainly in the exchange of information, but may also include the taking of certain operational measures. In particular in such areas as customs law, tax law, and securities law, international instruments on administrative co-operation between customs, fiscal and regulatory authorities have been concluded, for instance the recent Council of Europe Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters (ETS No. 127), that build upon different provisions regarding administrative co-operation included in existing bilateral treaties on double taxation. Many of these instruments purport to help the administrative authorities to assess whether the relevant laws are correctly applied and to discover irregularities, or even deliberate violations of, their provisions. In some cases the administrative authorities may be entitled to impose certain sanctions. They may also be held responsible for informing the judicial authorities for the purpose of criminal prosecution.
Once the matter is taken up by the judicial authorities, the collection of further evidence is a matter of criminal procedure. International co-operation to that effect is covered by existing treaties on mutual legal (that is, judicial) assistance in criminal matters. Evidence that has already been obtained through administrative assistance may be used in criminal proceedings, sometimes subject to a specific authorisation from the furnishing state. However, it would be inappropriate to continue to use instruments for administrative co-operation to support ongoing criminal investigations.
There may be particular complications in cases where the administrative authorities of one state have wider powers than their counterparts in the other state. Such wider powers may imply the resort to various compulsory and punitive measures for purposes of enforcing the relevant legislation, whereas in other countries such measures can only be applied by, or are subject to, the control of judicial authorities. This may mean that whereas in some countries a matter may still be considered as of an administrative character, in other countries the same matter would belong to the domain of criminal law. A dispute as to the relevant applicable instrument for international co-operation in such cases may then result in no co-operation at all.
Similar complications may arise as a result of the growing practice of introducing schemes of so-called penal administrative sanctions, where certain sanctions may be imposed in the first instance by administrative authorities with the possibility of an appeal or revision procedure before a court.
States should develop procedures to prevent instruments for administrative assistance from being used for other, that is, criminal justice, purposes, particularly if this might affect the protection against self-incrimination or the recognition of testimonial privileges. However, states should consider the possibility of using instruments for legal assistance in procedures that may lead to the imposition of penal administrative sanctions.
41. Differences between national rules governing bank secrecy should not hamper effective international co-operation in the fight against economic crime and organised crime.
It is important that different rules on bank secrecy do not unduly hamper international co-operation, including administrative assistance, especially with countries that largely use administrative law in respect of forms of conduct elsewhere classified as criminal offences.
42. The possibility should be studied of giving international effect to the disqualifications mentioned in item 19 above.
The recommendation under item 19 underlines the preventive role of disqualifications. That role may only be effective, though, where disqualifications are enforced across borders, preferably Europe-wide. Existing instruments for European co-operation in criminal matters do not facilitate sufficiently the recognition of disqualifications beyond national borders.
Report on responses to developments in the volume and structure of crime in Europe in a time of change
Recent developments in crime are outlined in this introduction on a chronological basis. As different crime categories typically follow separate paths, determined by factors that vary across crime categories, development trends in different crime categories might also be chosen as the starting point. The 1980s and the early 1990s represent, however, such an extraordinary case of social and political change that all crime categories are more or less subordinated to these changes.
Important institutional, legal, cultural and social developments have occurred. However, the present discussion is expressly economy- and market-oriented. That is the essence of integration, both officially and at convention level. As is widely understood, economic integration and development is of such basic importance that it does not leave other realms of social life unaffected. On the contrary, the area of concern of this working group, crime and crime control, is a lucid example of such connections: almost all imaginable aspects of crime and crime control are directly or indirectly affected by such changes.
One additional, and very central, element would have to be covered in a discussion of present-day crime problems, that is the present economic restructuring process deeply affecting most aspects of social life, including the crime scene, in differing ways, in all European countries. It is not unlikely that this element is having a generally accelerating impact on the negative aspects of crime trends, connected with the other simultaneous change factors. In the present text, being only indirectly connected with the main theme, this important phenomenon will not be analysed further.
Like western Europe, central and eastern Europe must not be treated as a monolithic entity. At least one useful differentiation would be to consider as a single entity those central and eastern European countries that even before 1989 had started to develop in their own ways.
2. Problems regarding crime data
The most widely accessible and widely used data on crime are usually police data, that is, statistics headed “crimes known to the police” (or some variant thereof). Interpretation and comparability problems, over time as well as across nations, arising from differences between national criminal laws and statistical systems are well known. There are also other problems that hamper the usefulness of other data generated within the criminal justice system: court statistics or prisoner statistics. These and many other types of data sources may often be available but, for the purposes of general overviews or cross-national comparisons, they are even less useful than police data if the goal is to assess crime as a concrete phenomenon, since they are even further removed from the facts.
The main information sources on crime changes and developments remain the statistics on police-recorded crime. This means, of course, a serious limitation, particularly with regard such crime categories where many relevant events remain beyond the grasp of the criminal justice system and police investigations, as is obviously the case, for instance, with economic and business or organisational crimes and with drug-related crimes.
Statistical information on police-recorded crime is, as has been widely acknowledged, open to many problems of comparability. These problems are often assumed to be of a minor order when chronological events within a given country are concerned. Even this assumption does not, however, often stand up very well.
Recently, there has been an increasing concern to gain access also to alternative data sources such as “victimisation” surveys and surveys of self-reported delinquency. An example of victimisation surveys with an expressly comparative purpose is the International Crime (Victimisation) Survey.1 A new step in this direction is the very recent attempt to start a business victimisation survey, designed to complement the surveys on individual victimisation.2
The other important potential complement to currently available standard information sources consists of projects such as the ISRD (International Survey of Self-reported Delinquency), where standardised self-reported data are used for comparative purposes.3
Victimisation and self-reported data are, however, not alternatives, but rather valuable complements to other types of information. It has, for instance, been realised that “crime”, according to this information source, is not quite identical, and only partially overlaps with “crime” as described in other sources. It is understood that the survey approach also has other shortcomings, such as measurement problems.
Yet another problem is that these alternative sources of information are not yet fully developed in the sense that most countries in central and eastern Europe – and also some western countries – have not participated in the comparative survey projects.
Further information sources that are, in fact, already used are the qualitative assessments and “state of crime” reports of the type delivered to the present working group by the countries which replied to the 1992 questionnaire. In several instances, the replies also demonstrate assessment difficulties due to the lack of systematic, comparable and relevant information.
3. European developments in the field of crime
3.1. After the second world war
After the second world war, Europe was divided into two different political and economic systems. Western Europe was allied to the United States, with a market-oriented economic system, whilst central and eastern Europe were controlled by the former Soviet Union with a centralised planned economy. This situation had repercussions on crime and crime control. While western European countries reported increasing crime figures, the countries of central and eastern Europe declared that crime in their part of the world was decreasing thanks to the advantages of the socialist system. Comparable and reliable statistical and other systematic information and research to verify these statements were, however, scarce.
In the 1950s, the crime scene displayed a steady increase which continued up to the mid-1980s in many western European countries, according to police statistics.
However, it has often been pointed out that this there is no other available data with which to compare information. One consequence of the dissatisfaction with this situation was that, in the late 1980s eleven western European industrialised countries, as mentioned above, joined a pioneering project of standardised national victimisation surveys (the International Crime Survey).
3.2. The 1980s
Looking at the police statistics of many western European countries, we can see a fairly uniform trend, with traditional crime growing until the early or mid-1980s, after which there was a period of stagnation, interrupted by a new upswing coinciding with the fall of the socialist regimes in central and eastern Europe. Regarding the latter, the indicators available also point towards a rapid increase in traditional crime rates.
3.3. The late 1980s and early 1990s
The dramatic political and social changes that Europe experienced in the late 1980s and early 1990s have two main aspects. One is the “internal” integration of western European countries, and the subsequent integration of the central and eastern European countries into the western system.
In western Europe, however, the rapidly developing “internal” integration within the European Union is accompanied by a growing number of membership applications from other countries.
The second trend is equally important. This includes the transformation of the centralised and planned economies into market economies, and thus the integration of central and eastern markets with western European markets.
Both of these two parallel trends need to be accounted for when recent trends in crime and crime control are being assessed. One affects directly developments inside the European Union; the other represents major changes concerning the material framework within which the level and structure of crime is determined.
Police-recorded crime has demonstrated a new upswing since the stagnation period in most western European countries in the 1980s. This upswing is often ascribed to the turmoil created by the changes in central and eastern Europe, resulting in a new influx of people from the East moving to the West, some of whom are immigrants, and others, short stay visitors. This view is then often combined with the idea that the worldwide economic restructuring process has affected many crime-related aspects of everyday life.
The situation is, of course, more complex than this. Generally speaking, the volume, structure and development of crime are affected by simultaneous changes in opportunities for committing crimes, in the chances of controlling and recording the resulting crimes, and possible changes in the criminal motivation of the relevant populations.
From the point of view of the central and eastern European countries, in particular those with immediate western neighbours, this picture is characterised as follows: the recent opening of the western neighbours represents a means of expanding criminal activities and directing them to wealthy areas that may be seen as an immense source of new opportunities which, if used wisely, may be taken advantage of in the domestic markets. A well-known example is that of increasing car thefts, particularly in west European countries with east European neighbours.
The increase in crime in central and eastern European countries is also connected with the destruction of crime suppression mechanisms inherent in totalitarian regimes and the very slow development of the mechanisms to replace them, which should function in most democratic states. The opening up of borders, in particular, and the recognition of the right of citizens to move without restrictions across borders, has opened up new opportunities for criminals.
Our knowledge of these countries is fullest in the economic field. The recent economic and political developments in central and eastern Europe are characterised by great diversity. The transition towards stable market economies is being influenced, however, by erratic, and sometimes weak, local policies, which, despite the short time scale, has already brought about great differences from country to country.
Western criminals are also profiting from the situation. Examples include the trade in humans smuggling people into the West, employing people of eastern origin as prostitutes in the West, the narcotics trade and the utilisation of the central and eastern areas, with their lack of controls and legislation, for dumping hazardous waste, are further examples of how the current unstable situation provides opportunities for new types of criminal activities or for the expansion of old ones.
This demonstrates that situations of instability, whether political or economic, are especially favourable to criminal activities and that the risk of expansion of such activities exists.
4. Explanatory remark
This report is largely based on the replies to a questionnaire prepared by the group and circulated to the states represented therein. It is supplemented by the attached report on recent crime trends in central and eastern Europe, prepared by MM. Kauko Aromaa (Finland) and Martti Lehti (Finland).
The report would have covered racial violence had this subject not been the subject of a separate activity undertaken by the Council of Europe following the Vienna Summit, that is by the new European Commission against Racism and Intolerance. However, some aspects of this type of crime, as well as measures to combat it, are mentioned here. In addition, the material and evidence on this topic have been made available to the commission.
Moreover, even though one member state is facing what it deems to be a serious threat of terrorism linked to international drug trafficking and/or organised crime, the majority of the group decided not to deal with this question here, as there are additional aspects of terrorism that could not have been covered by the group.
Although no reference was made in its terms of reference to war crimes and crimes against humanity, the group deemed that governments should take action in respect thereof in order to underline their seriousness, by prescribing that they shall not fall under any statute of limitation, for example. In this context, the institution of the international tribunal for the prosecution of serious violations of international humanitarian law in the territory of the former Yugoslavia should prompt states to study new, non-traditional ways and means relating to crime policies. To that extent, new forms of legal co-operation could be studied with a view to greater effectiveness in the fight against the most serious types of crimes.
Chapter 1 – Analysis of criminality
1.1. Qualitative and/or quantitative changes in crime that have occurred as a consequence of social and political change in Europe over the past few years, in particular since 1989 (for example, petty crime, serious property crime, arms, drugs and other trafficking, violent behaviour implying intolerance or exclusion and other crimes against persons, economic or environment crime, corruption, sexual exploitation, and so on).
Some countries, notably geographically peripheral western European countries, report no significant changes, or at least no changes apparently attributable to the phenomena in question.
Drug-related crime, especially trafficking, is of particular concern in all countries. New routes via central and eastern European countries as well as the abolition of controls on many borders are seen to be important factors in this respect. The patterns of drug trafficking may have considerably changed as a result of the recent developments in Europe.
In most western European countries, crime rates in general are reported to have increased. A long list of the various offensces is mentioned in this respect, including: petty crimes, property crime, sexual crime, assault, shoplifting, burglary, rape, robbery with violence, armed robbery, theft, offences against property (armed robbery with violence of banks, security vehicles, supermarkets, and so on), violence, particularly domestic and juvenile crime, and crimes committed by gangs.
Even though it is not always easy to establish links between trends in crime and changes in the political, economic and social spheres, the following offences are mentioned as possibly being linked to change:
1.1.1. In western Europe
– the expansion of organised crime in general;
– car thefts, many probably committed by gangs, with many cars no doubt transferred to central and eastern European countries;
– economic crime;
– money laundering;
– arms trafficking;
– illegally exported refuse;
– immigration crimes (including smuggling and illegal crossing of borders);
– visa and passport forgery;
– crime related to industrial legislation, in particular illegal recruitment of clandestine migrant workers;
– criminality linked to prostitution and other forms of sexual exploitation;
– violence against foreigners.
1.1.2. In central and eastern Europe
– the expansion of organised crime in general;
– offences against property;
– economic crime;
– counterfeiting of money;
– illegal trade in and production and possession of firearms and explosive materials;
– import and production of, as well as and trading in, adulterated foodstuffs;
– criminality linked with prostitution and other forms of sexual exploitation;
– violent crime involving the use of firearms.
Both lists represent a multitude of approaches to crime; the order in which the offences are enumerated is not intended to indicate the importance attached to each. As this report is a compilation of the individual country reports, this could be expected to be inevitable. We may, however, discern three main factors that shape the situation: one covers changes in traditional organised or semi-professional crime, another refers to aspects of economic crime or crime occurring in the context of legal business activities, and a third relates to the exploitation of immigrants and other vulnerable groups of the population. A fourth may be seen as “other concerns”, such as violence against foreigners and violent crime with the use of firearms.
These factors need not be seen as totally separate – the idea of integrating markets is a common denominator, relevant to central/east European and West European legal and criminal markets alike. The idea of integration explains the obvious foreign influence, but it also serves as a reminder of the likely fact that foreigners do not operate in an isolated “foreigner market” but rather engage in many kinds of systematic and symbiotic contacts with domestic crime markets. Moreover, many criminal phenomena are interrelated, both in practice and in theory.
This observation links our analysis to a further factor that can be deduced from the replies: changes in crime are often seen to concern particular categories of offenders and/or victims, in particular foreigners. The free movement of persons in Europe appears to favour an influx of migrants, some of whom become illegal residents. Trafficking in hard drugs is to a large extent reported as being controlled by foreigners. The apparent increase in recorded crimes committed by foreigners must, however, be interpreted with caution. Criminal statistics could lead to an overestimation of the role of foreigners in this matter. Some observe a discriminatory, intolerant attitude vis-à-vis foreigners in general. This reaction may be further accentuated by the continuing economic restructuring process, since the relative standards of living of large parts of the population are deteriorating, giving rise to discontent and leading to a search for scapegoats.
In Europe at large, many countries are reporting a growing incidence of offences committed by young offenders. This is not mentioned in all the replies, and in some countries this tendency is even denied. Although an increasing incidence of juvenile delinquency may exist, it remains unclear how it is connected with the recent political and economic changes in Europe. Possible links are as follows: a. juvenile delinquency may increase as a consequence of the growing permanent unemployment of young people in many countries, which could have serious negative consequences on the social integration of that section of the population and, indirectly, on traditionally organised society at large. In some countries this applies especially to young and young adult foreigners who are not well integrated into society; b. the growth of organised crime and the merging of criminal underworlds across national borders is likely to provide particular inducement to some of these juveniles, and even to juveniles in general.
These trends could make young people a source of new recruits for criminal organisations.
1.2. Details of the development of:
1.2.1. Economic crime (offences committed by public or private companies, or by persons in the context of industrial, commercial or financial activities)
Economic crime, used as a generic term, covers all sorts of offences committed by individuals or public or private companies in the context of their industrial, commercial, financial or other business-related activities. The term comprises a wide variety of crimes, above all those pertaining to property, but also those endangering the natural environment as well as the state’s financial interests (for example, breach of taxation provisions).
The central interests are financial, but the consequences of financially motivated activities may be multiple, including damage to the environment, violation of labour protection rules and in extreme cases damage to entire monetary systems, not to mention breaches of public morality and the disruption of democratic decision-making processes.
A tendency towards international expansion and more complex organisational structures has been observed, aiming at the maximisation of profits, by illegal means. This latter aspect needs to be further explored under the heading of organised crime (see I.2.2). It is, however, in the case of this phenomenon that economic and organised crime tend to become extremely difficult to separate, with one merging into the other.
In central and eastern Europe, economic criminality is closely related to the establishment of the new economic system and the privatisation process, the transition to a market economy and greater liberalisation of foreign trade and foreign investment. Most typical forms of economic crime involve embezzlement of state property, violation of tax laws, production and sale of adulterated products, smuggling, bankruptcy of companies, privatisation of companies, business fraud and tax evasion, business operations conducted by state officials with state funds (both corruption and unauthorised use of such funds), currency and cheque frauds, abuse of special forms of payment to the detriment of banks or export companies, and crimes against intellectual property.
In eastern Europe, notably Russia, a large proportion of crimes are committed by the private sector, businessmen, and so on, in a situation where there is poor police protection, a tradition of corruption, a fluctuation in incomes and an increase in production.
In western Europe, the number of cases of economic crime is considered to have increased. Various reasons are given for this. Reference has been made to increased criminal activity connected with new markets representing new opportunities. However, it has also been pointed out that the increase may be, in part at least, ostensible, resulting from closer official scrutiny in the wake of criminalisation.
Considerable damage is caused by fraud in general, as well as fraud relating to European Union regulations, for example misuse of subsidies. The following should also be mentioned in this respect: the breach of trust, breaches of tax, customs and excise laws, computer crimes, industrial, espionage and environmental crimes.
In connection with the reunification of Germany, special types of “reunification-related” crime have emerged. They include abuses in the conversion of the Deutschmark and the so-called transferable rouble clearing unit in commercial transactions with Comecon countries, as well as in the conversion of assets in east German marks into Deutschmarks. “Reunification-related” crime also includes fraud in connection with subsidies (investment grants), as well as the fraudulent claiming of tax benefits.
1.2.2. Organised crime (including the appropriate distinctions between the various levels of organisation, that is, gang delinquency, criminal groups, more structured organisations characterised by stability and continuity of criminal patterns, including Mafia-style organisations);
The term “organised crime” is used for criminological purposes and need not coincide with legal concepts. Many country reports expressed the view – without much hard data to support it, probably because traditional crime information systems do not contain relevant and reliable data on this – that as a general rule most forms of crime are increasingly committed by a group of persons organised to some extent. However, the extent to which offenders are organised, ie. the degree and permanence of organisation of crime, varies from gangs at one extreme to the Mafia at the other.
Organised crime may be described as including an underworld, as well as an upperworld, within which it evolves in apparent legality, notably in the framework of businesses and financial institutions. The purpose of fully-fledged organised crime is to obtain high profits both through the commission of offenses and participation in the upperworld economy, or even the acquisition of control over whole sectors of economic activities. It operates on the basis of a specialised division of work and within closed circuits. It draws on a permanently planned strategy. In extreme cases, the criminal organisations are described as operating in a manner similar to transnational businesses; however, they use violence, intimidation and corruption within both the political and the economic system. They have a highly hierarchical structure and employ very effective means, mainly sanctions, in order to ensure the implementation of their internal rules. Their agents move easily from one function to another. Part of the profits of organised crime are invested in legal activities. Their leaders operate like “crime entrepreneurs”, while the organisations may be characterised as “crime enterprises”. From that point of view a distinction should be made between two kinds of crime market: (184.108.40.206.) organised business crime, and (220.127.116.11.) organised trafficking in illegal and/or stolen goods.
18.104.22.168. Organised business crime
Illegal businesses, while defrauding legitimate industry or the state, must operate in the upperworld economy. The basic requirement for these illegal businesses is an ability to behave like a legal enterprise. This not only involves the technical management of the flow of capital, but also the long-term planning and supervision of a complex trade network and investment structure. Most illegal business appear to operate in a profitable partnership with legitimate industry. Often, one further feature of illegal businesses is the tendency to compete with illegal means, which include extortion, intimidation, violence, and corruption. In many markets, such as the black labour market, or the dangerous waste market, the role of the authorities is of crucial importance for the development of durable illegal businesses. Some criminal entrepreneurs emerge in various market areas: the black labour market; in the area of VAT fraud and European Union tax and subsidies fraud, for example. Money laundering as an illegal business is an important service industry; through fake loans, false accounts, false financial statements, and so on, illegally obtained money is “cleaned”. However, money laundering should not be considered to be limited to the handling of “dirty” drug money. It is also a form of money management for every lucrative illegal business. For the professional illegal business entrepreneur it is necessarily an ongoing management process integrated into his crime enterprise paperwork.
The following elements are typically to be found in the most complex and dangerous mode of criminal organisations, that is, Mafia-style organisations: pursuing an economic aim by illegal means and/or attempting to control or take over legal economic activities; operating in a hierarchical structure observing strict secrecy (omertà), enforced by very effective measures; and the tendency to use coercive measures, intimidation and corruption of officials, politicians and the business community.
Most criminal organisations, however, are smaller in size, while the economic landscape within which they operate provides ideal cover for a high degree of flexibility.
Any in-depth study of the nature of organised crime will have to investigate the dynamics of such a structure (how does it evolve, within which sub-culture, what is its ability to grow, when and how does it cross borders and link with other organisations?) as well as its fields of activity (narcotics, arms, prostitution, car thefts, pharmaceuticals, money laundering, and so on; even nuclear materials have been mentioned). In various countries, such studies have been carried out or are under way (France, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland). Suggested measures should take into account the different degrees of criminal organisation (measures which might be expedient and necessary to combat mafia-style organisations might also result in an “overkill” when applied to forms of organisation falling under the heading of traditional professional crime, not to mention gangs of juvenile delinquents).
This type of crime is typically committed in different countries by persons of different nationalities or residing in different countries, hence creating particular problems for investigation by national authorities restricted to their own jurisdiction. The fact that often business and other organisations are involved also makes the control of these phenomena a very complex matter.
It might be expected that the development of an open economic area within the European Union and the increased accessibility of central and eastern Europe will lead to new patterns of cross-border crime. Similarly, the risks of becoming a victim of one of those crimes increase. This may affect, in particular, businesses rather than individual citizens. However, the risks may not be spread evenly: some markets may be more affected by crime entrepreneurs/organised crime than others. Thus particular attention should be devoted to drug trafficking and money laundering related to drug money. However, organised drug trafficking and organised fraud cannot be so neatly separated. Regarding crime entrepreneurs/organised crime, cross-border crime markets in the European region is widespread.
22.214.171.124. Organised trafficking in illegal, smuggled or stolen goods
The criminological implications may be the development of Euro-
crime markets in which crime entrepreneurs develop lasting patterns of co-operation and cross-border organisations. This is already the case with the illicit drug market. Crime patterns in the field of organised commercial crime, toxic waste trafficking or European Union fraud point in the same direction. The freedom of movement created by the abolition of frontiers leads to greater internationalisation and professionalism in the realms of organised business crime, organised trafficking in illegal, smuggled or stolen goods and traditional organised crime.
1.3. Reasons for these criminal trends according to statistics or research for the period 1988 to1992
Statistical information or criminological scientific reports concerning trends in crime as a consequence of the social and political changes in Europe are not easily available. The 11th Criminological Colloquium, for instance, has shown that the connections between social and economic change on the one hand and crime on the other are difficult to demonstrate. Also, it is difficult to obtain relevant comparable data in all countries. The present report contains an appendix showing a number of visible trends.
A wide range of factors, not necessarily restricted to the period under consideration and partly supported by research, are put forward in order to explain present changes. They include:
1.3.1. Principally in respect of western Europe
– the process of general individualisation and the progressive disintegration of traditional society;
– the way in which the population is distributed between big cities, towns and villages, that is strong urbanisation together with “ghettoisation”;
– drug problems: an expansion of the drug market is often followed by increases in other crimes;
– problems in the treatment of criminality by the state (for example, many cases remain unsolved, legislative measures are often too late, the criminal justice system has difficulties in bringing cases to trial), leading to an increase in crime as many offenders realise that they will go undetected or unpunished;
– regarding recorded crime, the opening of the borders in central and eastern Europe and the migratory movements this has facilitated;
– international mobility: growing professionalism and improved organisation in criminal circles; one aspect of this is that offenders more readily escape abroad prior to detection;
– the economic restructuring and social problems, for instance in Germany, especially in the new federal Länder;
– in Germany, the opening up of central and eastern Europe has also caused an increase in specific fields of crime, for example, the smuggling of cigarettes and the foreign surplus supplies, fostered by the difficult economic situation in the respective countries.
Separate explanations relating to expected increases in crimes against immigrants/foreigners have been given:
– the economic situation and the uncontrolled flow of refugees and migrants may prove to be relevant factors in the area of ethnic, religious and racial violence;
– increases in crimes against foreigners may also be due to the increasing influx of foreigners and abuse of asylum laws, taken as a pretext for xenophobic behaviour;
– crimes against foreigners may also be due to economic problems and fears for the future, along with offenders’ fears of competition with aliens in the labour and housing markets;
– an existing potential for violence has been directed against foreigners by the above-mentioned factors.
This means that the range of explanations for expected increases in such crimes is indeed very wide, from general societal developments to factors specific to the late 1980s and early 1990s. As the latter may in many instances be seen to influence the former, for example by accelerating them, no clear distinction can be made.
1.3.2. With regard to central and eastern European countries in particular
Other reasons are also put forward. They mostly refer to the unique change from a centralised planned economy to a market economy and to parliamentary democracy. They include:
– the fact that certain countries were for a long time closed to the external world;
– the replacement of old structures by new structures;
– the unstable political situation;
– the introduction of a market economy;
– the disappearance of control over economic and financial activities in some spheres;
– the lack of supervision by the highest state authorities;
– the deepening of the economic crisis;
– the fact that some people, accustomed to living and behaving in conditions of strict supervision, are not prepared to live in normal conditions of democracy and take responsibility for their actions;
– old laws inappropriate to new problems;
– ineffective adaptation of the criminal justice system, including systems of dual legislation;
– legislation inappropriate to a market economy.
All these explanations concerning specifically central and eastern European countries reflect difficulties in adapting to the new situation of an economic and political redefinition of the world. In this respect, the deepening of the economic crisis may also be seen as at least a partial consequence of the political changes.
Other problems of a temporary character are mentioned last: the difficulties of large parts of the population in adapting to the rapid changes, and the problems caused by the need for radical changes in the criminal justice system and the relevant legislation.
One aspect, however, may be of a more permanent character: the powerlessness of the state as regards the control and regulation of the societal processes under way.
1.3.3. With regard to individual countries subject to integrationist pressures
Integration in the present context means economic integration. This, at European level, is understood as denoting the free movement of goods, services, people (labour) and capital between countries. The increase in these “freedoms” has, from the general standpoint of the social consequences of “integration”, been interpreted as bearing directly upon the ongoing process of change with respect to crime in that it is connected with changes concerning three basic aspects relevant to crime: structure and volume of opportunities, social control, and motivation.
Economic, commercial, technical and social developments have increased and diversified opportunities for crime considerably. For instance, the establishment of large self-service stores has enhanced the opportunity for shoplifting which is now one of the main types of mass crime. The growing size and complexity of economic enterprises, of new financial and capital markets, as well as new technical developments, such as computerisation, have created vast new opportunities. As far as the organisation of social life and social architecture is concerned, the differentiation between working and commercial areas on the one hand, and residential areas on the other, has opened up new opportunities, for example, for daytime burglary in residential areas and nocturnal burglary in industrial areas. Many other similar developments of this type in
so-called routine activities that make up the everyday crime scene have also been noted.
Regarding social control, in the commercial, administrative and economic sectors, personnel has been reduced in order to cut costs (for instance, in department stores and on public transport). In the area of social life, particularly in large cities, informal social control has been impaired because large families are more scarce, and networks of relatives and neighbours have grown weaker with an increasing anonymity connected particularly with the increasing mobility of the population, and the tendency towards maintaining personal privacy. Parallel to such developments, formal controls (police, the criminal justice system, and so on) have been enlarged. This, however, is unable at present to compensate for the changes in opportunities and informal control.
Motivation, connected with social integration, is undergoing similar changes. Economic development has created growing unemployment, and, as a consequence, increasing poverty, at least in relative terms. In addition, income distribution has developed to the detriment of the underprivileged sections of society. Such changes have effects on social integration, particularly in that growing portions of the population cannot be expected to share some of the values on which their social integration rests. A weakening social integration of (parts of) the population increases the likelihood of anomic behaviour, deviant motivation and deviant behaviour. Integration is also being undermined by ongoing individualisation processes that mean an increasing choice of a variety of life-styles. Young people, in particular, in this situation and at the same time confronteded with a wide choice of (sub)cultural values may also face a growing risk of confusion.
These domestic developments are influenced by new transnational developments. The opening of the borders with central and eastern European countries enhances the opportunities both for conforming and for deviant conduct. In addition, immigration enriches social and economic life and challenges the integration of society and thus the conformity of motivation. For instance, immigration creates home bases and support networks for criminals both in their countries of origin and, particularly, in the receiving countries. This greatly improves the social prerequisites for mobile criminal activities. The opening of borders and the weakening of controls creates increased opportunities for organised and organisational, business-based crimes. Increased mobility also means the emergence, for each country concerned, of “imported” criminal techniques and types of crime and criminal organisations that were previously unknown locally.
These new developments, especially the opening up of borders, create new challenges for social control agencies. A well-defined and integrated crime policy taking into account the developments sketched above and incorporating other areas of policy is necessary in order to meet these challenges.
1.4. Instances where states have decriminalised and/or criminalised certain behaviour, or considered such a possibility
Most, if not all, central and eastern European countries are in the process of revising their criminal legislation, including the operation of the criminal justice system and the preparation of new criminal codes. Certain forms of economic activity linked to the protection of the centralised economic model, for example, speculation and private commercial activity, as well as certain political activities previously deemed crimes against the state are being decriminalised.
In western Europe, limited moves towards decriminalisation are reported, including certain forms of behaviour connected with the consumption of narcotics; certain petty offences; adultery and abortion; and certain cases of reckless driving. These developments have apparently no direct connection with the most recent integrationist processes.
Interestingly, one country reported that offences under narcotic drugs legislation place a disproportionately heavy burden on the functioning of the criminal justice system. It is felt, however, that any proposals for decriminalisation in that area should be part of a broadly supported international initiative and not independent action by one country.
In central and eastern European countries, criminal legislation has been, or is being, reformed and, in the process, new forms of crime have been, or are being, considered, especially in the field of economic crime. Most concrete examples come from western Europe, where the list of new cases of criminalisation is long:
– harsher penalties for violence within the family;
– strengthening of the law against racism and xenophobia;
– criminalisation of attempted fraud;
– criminalisation of money-laundering;
– criminalisation of acts against the environment;
– criminalisation of computer misuse;
– legislation attempting to create the conditions for the suppression of organised crime;
– criminalisation of acts preparatory to certain forms of very serious crime;
– broader scope for the confiscation of the proceeds of organised crime;
– modern slave-trade legislation affording protection to foreign girls and women against prostitution, modern forms of slave-trading and so-called matrimonial-agency tourism;
– paedophiliac tourism;
– broader scope for using criminal law in cases of sexual abuse of children, as well as improving the criminal instruments designed to suppress the production and dissemination of pornographic material portraying child abuse;
– harsher minimum sentences for drug rings and gang robberies;
– reclassification of particularly serious narcotics offences, for example, criminalisation of the behaviour of an adult who induces a minor to participate in drug trafficking;
– criminalisation of hooliganism, violence in sport, bogus marriages and the promotion of illegal immigration;
– measures against right-wing extremists, especially against the production and dissemination of propaganda material and measures against anti-xenophobic crimes.
Some of these instances of criminalisation have little to do with recent integrationist developments or with trends in the internationalisation of criminal activities; however, some of them are closely linked to such developments.
1.4.3. Amendments under consideration
Without always providing an exact indication of whether the tendency is towards decriminalisation or further criminalisation, other aspects of criminal law and procedure are, in various countries, under review or consideration. They include:
– improvements in provisions concerning the freezing, seizing and confiscation of assets;
– improvements in the penal system in relation to serious fraud, for example, the establishment of a national fraud investigation bureau covering a number of specialised disciplines;
– revision of the law on the environment, particularly with respect to the “exportation” of waste;
– prohibition of commercial dealing in human organs and transplants for profit, even when carried out abroad;
– extension of the offence of removing children with a view to penalising the hitherto unpunishable simple “theft” of infants and the possible criminalisation of child trafficking for profit;
– revision of provisions on sexual assault;
– improvement of criminal law instruments designed to suppress the dissemination of pornographic material portraying child abuse;
– revision of provisions concerning discrimination based on race, sex or sexual orientation;
– measures against right-wing extremists and anti-xenophobic crimes.
1.5. Ability of national laws to cope with the various forms of harmful behaviour, both old and new
Bearing in mind what has been stated above concerning the intensive revision of criminal legislation now under way in central and eastern European countries where criminal legislation is often still lagging behind the changes that have taken place, other major lacunae in existing legislation can be mentioned in general terms. Of course, new phenomena continuously require responses from the legislator, which usually produce results only after some time.
Some lacunae have nevertheless been outlined. These relate to gaps in criminal legislation, in particular with respect to economic crime, organised crime and sometimes crimes committed by public servants. Thus these are references to:
– a lack of legislation authorising phone tapping;
– the leniency of environmental legislation;
– deficiencies in the law relating to the black labour market, and
– a lack of specific legislation on computer crime.
It should be noted that criminal law is not the central instrument in controlling or steering all harmful behaviour. For instance, by far the most harm to the environment is caused by legal, not criminal activities. The same is true of many other harmful activities. Some problems are, however, understood as being accentuated because of a lack of legislation. It is exactly for that reason that many countries report the wish to broaden the scope of criminalisation.
Chapter 2 – Domestic responses to crime
The political, economic and social changes in Europe have – as described above – both brought about a transformation of traditional crime structures and added new forms of criminality, especially in the field of economic and organised crime. In most states, crime control is given high priority, and all available means are used. However, different measures have been identified to counteract specific trends in crime:
2.1. Measures considered useful in controlling one or another of the new forms of criminality
It should be mentioned that the lists of measures that follow do not purport to be exhaustive.
– social prevention (social and economic policy, education, information, and so on);
– situational prevention (measures to reduce opportunities for and means of committing offences, and so on).
In most cases, the country reports name preventive measures at random. Some of these are sophisticated, others less so. Apparently not all countries were very familiar with the concept. As this part of the questionnaire pertains to actual experiences, such differences reflect the fact that some countries already have relatively long practical experience of systematic crime prevention while others do not. Not surprisingly, a major dividing line in this respect seems to coincide with the iron curtain of the cold war era. However, even within western Europe, major differences may be found, with some pioneer countries standing in their own class.
The difference is crystallised in that opportunity reduction in combination with functional surveillance is seen by the pioneering countries as a particularly promising approach to crime prevention, addressing both the changes in traditional crime and the new forms of criminality. Opportunity reduction may be promoted by various means, including simplified legislation (making fraudulent use of the law more difficult), physical measures, and measures aimed at increasing the general public’s awareness of criminogenic factors and the central ideas of opportunity reduction and situational crime prevention. Functional surveillance comprises social control exercised by concierges, caretakers, city guards and ticket inspectors, but also by counter personnel in financial institutions, regulatory authorities and private security firms. Some potential advantage is also seen in relying on so-called natural control, represented by the general public and the various kinds of employees serving as agents of control while performing their ordinary duties and tasks. This natural control is also, to some extent, subject to conscious planning.
The countries report a variety of measures. These include the following (we may also note that some measures may very well prove to be counter-productive in certain circumstances):
– social prevention:
- improvement of housing;
- job creation projects;
- measures in relation to problems such as unemployment, which are seen as a contributory factor to the growth of crime (Ireland);
– offender oriented primary prevention:
- training in responsible citizenship;
- strengthening of educational resources;
- political education;
– offender oriented secondary (and/or tertiary) prevention:
- improvement of after-school reception facilities for young people;
- promoting youth work and youth welfare services within the state and society (see the establishment in Germany of the “Federal Youth Policy Programme for the Development and Establishment of Voluntary Youth Welfare Services in the New Federal Länder”);
- establishment, as in Germany, of an action programme against aggression and violence, based on the theory that groups prone to violence can be inhibited by involvement in projects;
- attention to the special educational needs of children living in disadvantaged areas who could be in danger of becoming involved in juvenile delinquency (Ireland);
– situational primary prevention/improvement of informal control, surveillance:
- development of neighbourhood associations;
- encouraging the general public to use public transport;
- introducing measures aimed at reducing the circulation of bank notes, especially those of large denomination;
- a community-awareness section of the police promoting community-based prevention, that is neighbourhood watch schemes and school programmes (Ireland);
– situational secondary prevention/improvement of the control of at-risk places or situations:
- increase in the number of police and customs officers along borders;
– victim-oriented primary prevention:
- informing the general public, explaining how to behave in crime situations, how to avoid such situations, and how to guard against such situations;
- preventive public relations work, modifying the behaviour of potential victims and setting up crime prevention councils;
- using media such as television, radio, newspapers, and so on, to highlight problems and increase public awareness (Ireland).
Apart from measures of this kind with a clear focus on (social or situational) prevention, some countries report special efforts in relation to improvements in police methods regarding crime investigation. Ireland states in very general terms that the national police force is involved in measures to detect and prevent crime, and that specialised courses are arranged for that purpose. Usually, however, countries report that such efforts are related to particular crime problems, mostly involving drugs, or organised crime in general. Thus, in Italy, a centralised collection of data and/or studies on the criminal phenomena of organised crime has been established, along with a central investigation agency co-operating at state level. Also, Germany reports special measures in relation to narcotics, arms and high-duty goods: more stringent customs checks at borders; special inspection teams and commissions; regional and supra-regional special assignments; increases in equipment and staffing; under-cover investigations by customs; co-operation between customs and police; and the establishment of a joint financial investigation group between the Federal Cartels Office, the Central Credit Committee and the police.
Most countries do not report any preparatory work or scientific/criminological research in this context. As the only country discussing the administrative-preparatory level, Greece mentions having formed an inter-ministerial committee to work on the preventive measures relating to drug problems as well as a committee to research the problem of hooliganism. It has also formed working parties to conduct scientific research and make proposals on areas such as child abuse and the abuse of elderly people and women. Other countries do not mention such activities; however, it should be obvious that measures of this kind could have been reported by most countries.
2.1.2. New crimes and post-delictum measures
– criminal sanctions, non-criminal sanctions (civil law, administrative law), diversion and mediation;
– medico-social, educational and other “social defence” reactions to crime.
The new forms of economic and organised crime call for a different approach from that adopted towards traditional crime. This is partly due to the qualitatively unique features of economic crime: that is, it is typically committed in, by or through use of legal organisations in that businesses behave in ways that do not always fit systems designed to regulate the behaviour of individuals.
126.96.36.199. New sanctions to counter economic and organised crime
Sanctions particularly suited to economic/organised crime must be, if they are “new”, sanctions that cannot usually be appropriate to traditional crime problems. Sometimes, however, new types of sanctions may be applicable to both economic and traditional crimes. Those applicable to economic activities only may be seen as being to changes in the scope of criminalised behaviour or in the scope of the category of persons involved. A third level of new measures is to do with solutions aimed at facilitating the criminal investigation of economic crimes.
188.8.131.52.1. Special sanctions aimed at business crime
– restrictions on the participation of certain persons in certain types of (economic) activities; and
– restrictions concerning the activities of businesses and other regulations.
184.108.40.206.2. Other new sanctions
Many countries report new types of reactive sanctions, such as:
– monetary penalties, fines and an obligation to repair the damage caused or restore the situation existing before the offence are relevant in this context. Some countries have thus introduced special property penalties to enable them to confiscate the proceeds from offences and hence eliminate the incentive to commit offences. Both confiscation orders and property penalties also diminish the capacity of organised crime to accumulate “business capital”. In some countries, courts may impose pecuniary sanctions or confiscation orders up to the limit of the value of the offender’s assets, in addition to a custodial sentence;
– in an attempt to achieve an internationally comparable standard, most European countries have reviewed their legislation on confiscation of proceeds from crime.
220.127.116.11.3. Rules of evidence and other measures that facilitate the investigation of business and organised crime
– changes of rules concerning criminal investigation have been suggested or even adopted, the objective being to make it easier to obtain evidence necessary to apply criminal sanctions, whether old or new. Thus, some countries, whose criminal proceedings system so allows, have chosen to shift the balance of proof for the legitimate acquisition of such funds to the suspect owner.
As far as the scope for further criminalisation is concerned, two avenues of reform are apparent. One is changing the ambit of criminal behaviour/activities as defined in the law, the other is to redefine the possible categories of persons at whom criminalisation measures are aimed.
Redefining criminalised behaviour
With regard to the first avenue, as criminal law has been observed to contain many lacunae with respect to economic activities considered openly harmful and/or dishonest, amendments to existing criminalisation measures have become necessary. Following the recommendations of several international organisations, criminal law has been extended to cover formerly non-incriminated or insufficiently incriminated behaviour such as money laundering. A growing number of states are expanding the scope of their existing money laundering legislation to cover predicate offenses other than drug trafficking, this being the first type of criminal activity to be affected by the criminalisation of money laundering.
Redefining the categories of persons concerned
In some countries the criminal liability of legal entities has been newly introduced or expanded in order to fight economic and organised crime more efficiently.
Whereas in all European countries large-scale drug trafficking is combated with law enforcement measures, the emphasis on prevention of drug consumption is being shifted to social or medico-social concepts.
18.104.22.168. New sanctions/approaches to traditional crime
A new phenomenon is concern for victims of crime: in many countries this has brought about new legislation intended to improve the position of victims in the criminal justice process. One important part of this legislation is the introduction of restitution orders (reimbursement of the victim for any damages incurred as a result of the offence). Another line of development in this area is illustrated by the reply of Ireland: victim support counselling is available from voluntary bodies which are financed by the government and work closely with the police. Variants of similar activities are known to exist in many other countries, but they are not mentioned in the country reports.
In Germany, for instance, as part of the Anti-Crime Act which came into force on 1 December 1994, a new provision was inserted into the Criminal Code that enables a judge to refrain from punishing or to suspend or reduce the sentence where the victim and the offender have reached a settlement or the offender made restitution of the property in question.
As the weight here is on “post-delictum”, that is, tertiary level, measures the responses on this point concentrate mainly on offenders. Here, an example of “new” secondary level measures is given in the following terms:
– encouragement of organised networks to combat drug consumption and juvenile delinquency and/or medico/social reactions are particularly relevant with respect to crimes committed by drug addicts.
By definition, the bulk of measures reported in this area are tertiary level, measures: the country reports mention measures that have been included in the international debate since the 1970s, falling under the heading of “alternative sanctions”, “decriminalisation” and “diversion”:
– (alternative sanctions) community service sanctions and other alternatives to prison are generally seen to have positive aspects and have been given priority in many European countries in recent years;
– (alternative sanctions) in Germany, voluntary drug therapy takes precedence over imprisonment or admission to treatment centres ordered by the courts;
– (decriminalisation/diversion) administrative sanctions have been introduced in lieu of criminal sanctions, for example, for minor road traffic offences. Possibilities are being explored of expanding their applicability to other types of petty offences. To give one example of this: in Austria, a new law is under preparation according to which first offenders guilty of shoplifting not exceeding a certain value may avoid trial by paying a sum of money proportionate to the value of the stolen property. One suggestion along these lines refers to the extension of out-of-court settlements, including settlements concerning the determination of the quantum of proceeds from crime.
22.214.171.124.3. Professional crime
However, still in the realm of traditional crime, some of the principles that were mentioned in the context of economic and organised crime have been found to be promising. This applies, for instance, to the question of the criminal liability of legal entities on the one hand, and improved ways of recovering the proceeds from crime on the other. This also illustrates a generally observed change in the structure of traditional crime: such crime is perceived as undergoing a development with an increasing level or organisation, and thus new measures concerning traditional crime merge to some extent with measures concerning organised crime. Thus,
– some countries have already introduced the criminal liability of legal entities, and others are preparing to do so;
– in Germany property penalties were introduced to remove the incentive, that is the profit, and deprive the criminals of the investment capital they require. Where the person is sentenced to imprisonment for more than two years, the system enables the courts to apply an additional pecuniary sanction up to the limit of the value of his or her assets;
– many other countries also report an enlargement of the possibility of ordering confiscation of the proceeds from crime.
2.1.3. Criminal justice system
– improvements in the working of the criminal justice system (training and specialisation, simplification of procedures, the elaboration of new rules of evidence, or the intervention of new parties such as financial institutions, and so on);
– development of new methods of police work that include intelligence and crime analysis (pro-active methods).
This group of answers contains the largest number of suggestions and also relates to the field best known to the agencies representing each country in the survey. The answers represent a great variety of approaches to the problem, and any decision to structure them must be arbitrary to some degree. In this presentation, the suggested/reported measures are arranged so that (126.96.36.199.) innovations in and improvements to the criminal procedure are followed by (188.8.131.52.) problems of evidence, and (184.108.40.206.) solutions aimed at a concentration of jurisdiction. A second batch of measures includes (220.127.116.11.) matters designed to improve the organisation of police work, on one hand, and (18.104.22.168.) new methods of police work, on the other. A further group of measures considered necessary is specified as (22.214.171.124.) training needs in some or all areas of the criminal justice system.
Some reports include statements of a very general nature that can really be placed under any particular heading. Thus, one country reports that its top priorities in crime policy are the investigation and prosecution of serious organised crime, environmental crime, serious local crime and serious fraud. Another country report states that mass criminality should be one of the top priorities. Also, as a very different kind of innovation, the appointment of judges responsible for the enforcement of sentences is reported. It is further stated that the recognition of legal aid (pro deo) as a component of social security and an increase in the resources assigned to legal aid is a means of ensuring justice for all.
126.96.36.199. Innovations in and improvements to criminal procedure
The simplification of the criminal procedure is an aim pursued in many countries. For instance, in Germany:
– prosecuting authorities were given broader scope to halt investigations on the grounds of triviality, without the consent of the court;
– admissibility checks were introduced for appeals in respect of petty offences;
– the service of documents abroad was simplified;
– the redistribution of spheres of jurisdiction among the courts to relieve courts with fewer judges, and so on, was simplified;
– the Anti-Crime Act provides for improvements in the use of summary proceedings, relaxation of the conditions for the imposition of remand in custody, as well as the introduction of a federal register of prosecution proceedings;
and in the Netherlands a committee of experts is working on the revision of the code of criminal procedure. Various proposals are under consideration, including a review of pre-trial investigations conducted by an examining judge, amendments to provisions on pre-trial detention, and special procedures where the accused pleads guilty.
Improvements and developments in this area relate to rules concerning admissible evidence as well as witness protection.
188.8.131.52.1. Nature of evidence
In the Netherlands, parliament is examining a bill that sets out the conditions on which statements made by witnesses allowed to remain anonymous may be used in court as evidence. A proposal on the use of DNA tests as evidence is also under study. In Ireland, the Criminal Evidence Act 1992 amended the law of evidence to the effect that information on businesses, administrative documents, computer print outs, and so on, will be admissible as evidence. The act also sets out the circumstances in which a spouse or former spouse is competent or compellable to give evidence at the prosecution of an accused person.
Furthermore, in order to implement the European Union directive on the prevention of the use of financial institutions for the laundering of proceeds of crime, reporting requirements are being imposed on financial institutions. Similar reporting requirements are being imposed on industries producing, exporting or importing certain chemicals used for the production of narcotics.
Similarly, another report refers to specific problems with money laundering: one country underlines that it is essential to be able to distinguish money laundering operations from legal financial transactions by making the evidence of such an operation available to the authorities.
184.108.40.206.2. Witness protection and other safeguards
Laws concerning the giving of evidence and the protection of witnesses are under review in many countries,1 for example:
– in Austria, several measures aimed at protecting witnesses have been taken. They include pre-trial testimony before the investigating judge from persons related to the offender/victim by blood or marriage and of under-aged victims (video transmission to a different room, video recording for use at the trial, interrogation of minors by an expert); protection of anonymous witnesses;
– in Ireland, the Criminal Evidence Act 1992 provided for live television links for witnesses, particularly in the area of sexual abuse. Also, the Netherlands Parliament is examining a bill that addresses the issue of intimidating witnesses;
– in Germany, the Organised Crime Act provides for the protection of under-cover agents in criminal proceedings.
220.127.116.11. Concentration and/or specialisation of prosecution and/or jurisdiction
These questions are being considered by many. For instance, one report states that in cases of specialisation, experience and knowledge is to be channelled into certain areas: for example, narcotics, violence, organised crime, environment, corrupt minors. The Netherlands also reports that action is being undertaken with a view to the specialisation of members of the public prosecutor’s office.
To give further examples: Germany reports that the Constitution of Courts Act provides for a concentration of jurisdiction for certain offences. For offences of an economic nature a sizeable criminal division has jurisdiction as an economic crimes division. The judicial administrations of the Land governments can also assign cases in whole or in part to one regional court to act on their behalf so as to expedite and facilitate proceedings.
The higher regional courts in whose area of jurisdiction the Land government sits are competent as courts of first instance to hear and decide on cases involving treason, external security, genocide, and so on, as well as offences where, in view of the special importance of the case, the Prosecutor General assumes responsibility for prosecution. Responsibility for prosecuting particular types of cases on behalf of several regional or higher regional courts can be assigned to the officers of one public prosecution authority if this is likely to speed up proceedings.
In Norway a special prosecutor’s office on economic crimes has been established. In Sweden special units with a similar specialisation were set up, but they have been closed as they could not be supplied with a sufficient caseload. Sweden has also created a special national police unit for the investigation of money laundering.
18.104.22.168. Improvements concerning the organisation of police work: restructuring of police work and other organisational developments
In some countries, the organisation of the police has been completely modified. Some countries report that overloading exists in the field of police activity since the proliferation of serious crimes, while the number of police has remained static. Whether and to what extent this may in fact be a result of improved police work is not assessed in the country reports. (Some countries, for example Finland, point out that police resources have been boosted or rearranged to enable considerable amounts of resources to be allocated to the investigation of bankruptcy offences and other economic crime).
Furthermore, the familiar complaint is made that police are often assigned duties not directly related to crime or crime prevention. Here, no comment is made on the fact that the police force is nowhere an organisation designed solely for crime prevention and investigation.
With reference to the rapid computerisation of information systems, a strengthening of the volume and quality of supporting personnel is deemed necessary.
As regards more specific measures in this field, the following are mentioned:
– greater co-ordination;
– co-ordination aimed at information and compatibility technology, both nationally and internationally;
– measures to improve mutual co-operation in the field of criminalistic and criminological research, particularly those which intensify the exchange of information, co-operation in particular research fields, as well as joint use of research results;
– intensification and improvement of the exchange of information between local, regional, national and international authorities involved in the investigation and prosecution of offences. To give one example, Finland reports that new legislation is in the pipeline for police information registers, including preparations for an international information exchange, with particular reference to European exchange needs;
– more co-operation with outside experts, authorities and other institutions in specific types of crime;
– greater use of experts to work in the suppression of crime;
– closer co-operation with all law enforcement agencies;
– in the Netherlands, the police force has been reorganised so that every police region will have its own crime analysis unit (see crime analysis below).
22.214.171.124. New methods of police work
A number of countries report advances in the use of intelligence and crime analysis methods.
Some countries express widespread faith in the fuller use of computers, computerised information and communication systems. To give just one example: Slovenia reports that a computer-supported system of collecting and processing operational information on fighting crime was introduced and the first phase of the creation of a new criminal information system has been completed.
Most new measures aimed at combating organised crime are mentioned in a recent Dutch governmental report and include:
– improvement of co-ordination, information and intelligence;
– improvement of the management of intelligence and investigation;
– enhancing co-operation with other investigation agencies (tax, and so on);
– assistance from (scientific) experts;
– co-operation with administrative agencies;
– adaptation of criminal law;
– international co-operation.
In Germany, in cases generally regarded as organised crime, the Organised Crime Act made legal provision for specific investigative measures that include:
– grid search;
– use of technical (audio and visual) resources (monitoring devices) (electronic surveillance in dwellings is not permitted);
– use of under-cover investigators;
– police surveillance.
A new method yet to be developed is the collection of intelligence in the outside or legal world. The basic idea here is that particular forms of organised crime (for example, offences against the environment, fraud, and so on) can only come into existence within the framework of legal firms and businesses and sometimes with the assistance of legal, financial and other advisers. This form of intelligence requires new approaches.
A further new method already applied in many countries consists of setting up relatively large investigation teams assisted by experts of all kinds (accountants, and so on). This is mainly being done in the realm of economic crime.
Present-day techniques of crime analysis are accorded great value by many. In the Netherlands, crime analysis started in 1987. Until now it has mainly focused on organised crime. With crime analysis, the aim is to delineate and discern different organised crime groups, their membership, activities and internal hierarchies. Two reports have been prepared. Data for these reports were drawn from the different local and regional intelligence units. A third report is in progress.
In Germany, methods of crime analysis are used by the investigation bureaux of the Länder and at regional level.
Apart from research and development of crime analysis, implementation of crime analysis is another main aspect of policy. With the reorganisation of the Dutch police, every police region will have its own crime analysis unit. Beyond organised crime, the units will in due course also be concerned with other forms of crime, for example, strategic crime analysis and profiling.
Crime analysis would benefit if the existing definitions, or perhaps better definitions of organised crime were developed. It is stated also that greater attention should be paid to East-West and South-North movements. This could be done by compiling European and global organised crime profiles. It is suggested that an internationally co-ordinated approach be applied, based on a sound knowledge of the system. (It is also suggested that initiatives to compile European and global organised crime profiles should come from international bodies).
126.96.36.199. Training needs
Several references are made to the special training needs of all levels of authorities in the criminal justice system.
Police are said to have engaged in more intensive basic and refresher training. Similarly, it is stated that judges and public prosecutors should be given refresher training in all the latest criminological developments, as well as specialisation courses. This also applies to the police, in particular with respect to economic crime. Further, the computerisation of information systems in the criminal justice system requires better training and specialisation of personnel in computer technology.
In this respect, the institutions already in existence for in-service training, for example, the Academy of Judges in Germany and the European Academy of Judges in Trier, could be used.
2.2. Measures accorded priority and aimed at controlling new forms of criminality
Among the various countries, the variations in approaches and the degree of specificity represented in the reports are large. The report with the most abstract examples states that in Belgium the government agreed in 1992 to establish an emergency programme to deal with societal problems: guarantees for the safety of citizens; improved immigration controls, including action to combat clandestine immigration; a more advanced environmental policy.
2.2.1. Traditional approaches
Many countries also state that there are no particular difficulties to report. Others mention, for example, limited financial resources; insufficient information including limited access to foreign materials (legislation, practice, experience); insufficient manpower, including a limited number of specialists and trained staff; transitional problems concerning the training and education of staff, especially in relation to new technologies; insufficient time, insufficient equipment, and perhaps also an insufficient number of ideas.
All this is no surprise. Mostly, the reports reflect the general idea that life is expected to go on as before, and the best one can hope for is the provision of more resources to broaden the existing forms of work.
New priorities, or areas identified as requiring special attention, include the environment, immigration, organised crime, organised crime and corrupt businesses, money laundering, situational prevention, and new strategies of punishment; or, as in the Irish report, fraud, racketeering, domestic violence and drugs. Turkey regards as its priority the fight against terrorism. The Netherlands states that the government has an absolute obligation to keep administrative bodies and officials, both national and local, free from corruptive influences. In this context, no details are usually given, Switzerland being a notable exception. After stating that one priority is the adoption of a second set of measures to combat money laundering, the Swiss report goes on to explain that the second set of measures to deal with money laundering includes the introduction of a right to the communication of financial information, provisions penalising membership of criminal organisations and a review of current legislation on confiscation procedures. In other countries (for example, Germany), such provisions are already in force.
With reference to strategies, a number of countries make rather vague references to various kinds of co-operation, both national and international, but they primarily have in mind co-operation by police or other state authorities. For example, the Danish police are actively trying to develop both their national and international co-operative relations.
Another traditional development strategy – establishing specialised (and centralised) authorities for special problems – is illustrated by Switzerland, where one priority is seen as the establishment of a central authority to combat organised crime. Similarly, Ireland speaks of establishing a special unit for domestic violence (women and children’s unit).
2.2.2. An innovative approach
The traditional strategies may be contrasted with the (more modern) Dutch systemic approach, in line with the view that crime prevention is a common cause of state and local authorities, the business world, and private citizens alike. This view is expressed, inter alia, as follows.
In all sectors of the criminal justice system in the Netherlands, measures have to be taken and their implications in the other sectors of the system assessed and faced. The commercial world, and indeed the public at large, must become more deeply involved in the application of preventive measures. As a concrete measure illustrating the central systemic idea, a national platform for the containment of crime has been set up in the Netherlands. It is chaired by the Secretary of state for Justice and includes representatives of the business world. It makes proposals for the reduction of crime against commercial and business life.
Early signs of the gradually growing popularity of the systemic view in the field of crime prevention are reflected in the fact that a number of European countries established national crime prevention councils back in the 1980s, with Estonia as the most recent example.
2.2.3. Additional items
Finally, some reports mention police working methods and technology as priority subjects of training:
The Netherlands suggest that police and prosecution offices, but also judges, should get acquainted with new areas of the law (the world of financial institutions, of financial investments, of computers and other electronic devices).
At the police level, the Netherlands report that a high priority is developing crime analysis as an important new tool. At the same time new means and techniques of investigation are being explored.
The Danish police are giving priority to the introduction of modern technology in police work.
2.3. Concluding remarks
The information received from member states reveals a great variety of measures in preventing and combating crime, as well as in attempting to cope with recent challenges caused by the new transnational developments. One of the main challenges for crime policy in this respect will be finding the right combination of preventive and repressive measures, bearing in mind:
a. that the volume, structure and development of crime depend to a large extent on the economic and social situation; and
b. that repressive measures are limited by human rights and the rule of law.
Chapter 3 – International co-operation with reference to the above-mentioned forms of criminality
3.1. Existing forms of international co-operation in criminal matters
When international co-operation in criminal matters is being reviewed, a distinction is often made between co-operation at police level and co-operation at judicial authority level. The two forms are closely related since they serve the same purpose, that is, the investigation, prosecution and sentencing of offenders. The distinction is a consequence of the different ways in which both forms of international co-operation have developed. Judicial co-operation has been established on the basis of treaties, whereas police co-operation was for a long time based on practical arrangements between police authorities in different states, in particular Interpol. Only recently could one discover a tendency in the western European states to conclude treaties on (specific forms of) international police co-operation. For the sake of completeness, it should be added that another new area is co-operation between administrative agencies involved in law enforcement.
3.1.1. Judicial co-operation in criminal matters
Experience shows that a prerequisite for effective and extensive judicial co-operation in criminal matters is a sound set of international binding rules which can be applied smoothly. The conclusion of conventions, however, is only a first step; the second step is their ratification, and the third their operation.
188.8.131.52. Existing conventions
The Council of Europe has produced a considerable number of multilateral conventions on judicial co-operation which serve as a basis
for most of the ongoing co-operation between judicial authorities in western European states, even though some of them have concluded additional instruments either on a bilateral or a multilateral basis.
The European Conventions on Extradition (ETS No. 24) and Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters (ETS No. 30) were concluded in the 1950s and the respective additional protocols (ETS Nos. 86, 98 and 99) some twenty years later. After nearly four decades, the operation of these conventions is a well established practice.
In the 1970s and 1980s, two additional forms of co-operation were developed and rules thereon laid down in conventions of the Council of Europe, namely the European Convention on the Transfer of Criminal Proceedings (ETS No. 73), the European Convention on the International Validity of Criminal Judgments and the Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons (ETS Nos. 70 and 112). Furthermore, an additional protocol to the 1968 European Convention on Information on Foreign Law (ETS No. 97) was concluded; it extends the scope of the exchange of information to the field of criminal law. With the establishment of the above-mentioned legal instruments, the set of classical forms of co-operation was completed.
The idea that extradition, mutual assistance, transfer of proceedings, transfer of sentenced persons and exchange of information on foreign law are all parts of a whole became even more apparent when the 1988 Conference of European Ministers of Justice recommended the Council of Europe to draft a comprehensive convention on co-operation in criminal matters, which could serve as a substitute for all the above-mentioned conventions and protocols. This task has been performed in its main aspects by the Committee of Experts on the Operation of the European Conventions in the Penal Field (PC-OC). However, it has not yet been completed and the CDPC, at its annual meeting in 1994, decided to suspend work on this project, subject to a review not later than 1998.
In the 1980s and 1990s the belief developed that one of the more effective methods of combating drug trafficking was the confiscation of assets gained through such offences. That led to the need to establish specific rules for that form of international co-operation. The United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Vienna, December 1988) includes such rules and permits worldwide co-operation. Because of the complexity of some aspects of this co-operation, the member states of the Council of Europe felt the need to develop more detailed and easily applicable rules. Thus, the Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure and Confiscation of the Proceeds of Crime (ETS No. 141) was concluded in 1990, and the Agreement on Illicit Traffic by Sea, implementing Article 17 of the United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (ETS No. 156), was concluded in 1995.
184.108.40.206. Ratification of the conventions
Before stock is taken of the situation regarding ratification of the above-mentioned conventions, some general remarks need to be made.
At national level, any decision concerning the ratification of a convention should be accompanied by a study of the implementation of the rules embodied in the convention, taking into account domestic legislation. This notion is of particular importance when it comes to the above-mentioned conventions, because they incorporate more rules of a procedural nature than of a substantive nature. Moreover, they often entail obligations of a procedural nature for states, for example, the execution of requests, that cannot be carried out in practice without the support of domestic procedural rules.
Consequently, the operation of the conventions in question will be severely hampered where the requisite domestic procedural rules either do not exist or are inadequate. That, of course, will put great stress on inter-state co-operation.
The present state of ratification of the conventions is a consequence of the developments in Europe since 1989. The relevant charts for the last five years show a steep increase in ratifications, mainly by central and eastern European states.
Of the conventions and protocols concerning the classical forms of judicial co-operation – extradition (ETS Nos. 24, 86 and 98); mutual assistance (ETS Nos. 30 and 99); transfer of proceedings (ETS No. 73); and transfer of sentenced persons (ETS No. 70 and 112) – the conventions on extradition, mutual assistance and the transfer of sentenced persons have been ratified respectively by twenty-nine, twenty-five and thirty-three western, central and eastern European member states.
Only a smaller number of member states have become parties to the additional protocols to the European Conventions on Extradition
and Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters, namely fifteen parties to
ETS Nos. 86, twenty-one to ETS No. 98 and seventeen to ETS No. 99.
The European Conventions on the Transfer of Criminal Proceedings and on the International Validity of Criminal Judgments have a very low ratification rate. Ever since their conclusion, many western European states have shown a lack of enthusiasm for them, arguing that, owing to their complexity, extensive internal legislation is needed. The few states (ten and nine respectively – mostly western European) that did ratify those, although initially under the impression that they were complex instruments to apply, have nevertheless found that, thanks to extensive national legislation, the operation of the conventions is in fact rather easy.
The Additional Protocol to the European Convention on Information on Foreign Law (ETS No. 97) has been ratified by twenty-four member states.
The rate of ratification of the Convention on Laundering, Search Seizure and Confiscation of the Proceeds from Crime (ETS No. 141) is still rather low – eight ratifications. Since this convention was received with great enthusiasm, but entails completely new forms of co-operation, the explanation for the slow pace of ratification must be sought in the difficulty potential parties have in drafting the necessary complementary national legislation.
220.127.116.11. Operation of conventions
The smooth operation of a convention depends not only on the adequacy of national legislation but also on the availability of an appropriate set of competent authorities at national level.
In general, the main task of the designated competent authorities is investigation and prosecution relating to offences committed in their own country. Handling requests for international co-operation is traditionally seen as an additional task. However, with the increasing intensity of international co-operation it is in the interests of all parties that each of them ensures that the designated authorities have sufficient knowledge of the conventions, awareness of the importance of an expeditious reply to incoming requests and sufficient manpower to supply the assistance requested. These more practical aspects of co-operation are becoming more and more important.
Although the discussions in the Committee of Experts on the Operation of Conventions (PC-OC) show that the operation of the European Conventions on Extradition and Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters is proceeding fairly smoothly, one problem that arises regularly is the fact that international co-operation is time-consuming and that quicker responses are needed to keep pace with the criminal investigation or the prosecution to which requests are related. The occurrence of long delays also plays an important role when the operation of the Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons is reviewed.
Because of the growing number of ratifications of the conventions, their territorial application is widening and thus permitting the development of legal co-operation between western, central and eastern European states. The need for an adequate level of judicial co-operation has been thoroughly substantiated in the preceding chapters of this report.
It is realistic to think in terms of developing such co-operation. All central and eastern European states are having to restructure not only their economies but also the whole of society. Their willingness to do so is apparent from the many newly drafted constitutions and the consequent radical changes in institutions such as governments and parliaments. Although developments differ from state to state, in general the transitional period is not yet completed. Of greatest importance for international co-operation are the ongoing restructuring of judiciaries and the adoption of new criminal codes and codes of criminal procedure, since – as already stated – a sound legal infrastructure is a prerequisite for the ratification of the conventions.
Whereas western European states had, after ratifying the conventions, a long period for developing judicial co-operation in practical terms, the present level of serious crime in Europe shows – unfortunately – that none of the central and eastern European states will have much time to gain experience of the operation of the conventions, neither amongst themselves nor in their relations with western European states. In these circumstances, the expectation that the operation will be one of “trial and error” seems justified.
3.1.2. Police co-operation in criminal matters
As mentioned in the introduction to this chapter, international police co-operation originated in practical arrangements between police authorities. These arrangements vary from occasional contacts to permanent working groups on a bilateral or multilateral scale.
In the 1960s, such practical arrangements led to police co-operation between the then six member states of the European Economic Community under the name Trevi. The objectives of Trevi were to take co-ordinated measures to suppress terrorism and drug-related crime, as well as in the field of police training and technology. In the following decades the group of participating police officers was extended, as was the EEC. Since 1986 the ministers responsible for the police forces of the EEC member states have met regularly to discuss and guide the work of Trevi. Between 1988 and 1992, the scope of Trevi was widened in the sense that measures to compensate for the abolition of controls at the inner borders of the EC were developed. Since Title VI of the Treaty on the European Union provides for police co-operation between the member states, the framework of Trevi became non-existent at the date of entry into force of the European Union Treaty, on 1 November 1993. Since then, the European Drugs Intelligence Unit has been set up and Europol created.
In a parallel move, a group of five EC member states negotiated between 1985 and 1990 an agreement concerning the abolition of controls at inner borders, namely the Schengen Agreement, which today binds eight of the fifteen EU members. The Agreement includes a chapter on judicial and police co-operation in criminal matters.
3.2. Existing forms of international co-operation in criminal matters that should be improved
In the present situation, the primary goal should be to extend international co-operation in criminal matters to the whole of Europe. With the intensification of international co-operation and the growing number of member states that actively participate in it, more attention should be given to the transparency of international co-operation.
In every criminal investigation and prosecution there should be sufficient possibilities for the judges and the defence to check whether the legal conditions for co-operation have been fulfilled and thus whether the resulting evidence has been acquired in such a manner that it is admissible in court. It might be appropriate for the Council of Europe to study to what extent it could be instrumental in organising co-operation among, or in the interests of, defence lawyers in international co-operation procedures.
Another aspect that should get more attention is the recognition at international level of the principle of non bis in idem.
With respect to efforts to ensure rapid development of the operation of the conventions on legal co-operation, the following steps seem advisable:
– improvement of the state of ratification with regard to the European Conventions on Extradition and Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters, as well as their additional protocols, and the additional protocol to the European Convention on Information on Foreign Law;
– review of the need to retain reservations and declarations made when the Conventions on Extradition and Mutual Assistance were ratified;
– intensification of the meetings of the Committee of Experts on the Operation of European Conventions in the penal field (PC-OC) by convening it, not only at the request of member states to solve specific problems, but also to exchange information on the more practical aspects of the different forms of co-operation and develop models for certain types of requests;
– collecting together of the relevant recommendations (more than eighty) of the Council of Europe in the field of crime problems;
– exchange of information on aspects of national legislation which appear relevant to the handling of requests based on the different conventions between competent authorities of the member states;
– provision of information and other forms of assistance for drafting national legislation in criminal matters, in particular those which have international features (computer crime, environmental crime, fraud, organised crime) with a view to parties adopting national legislation compatible and harmonised with other national legislations, so that smooth international co-operation is possible;
– exchange of liaison judges between member states who conduct close co-operation between themselves, with a view to assisting the competent authorities when requests for legal co-operation are drafted or executed;
– organising of seminars for the competent authorities on particular subjects related to international co-operation;
– establishment of exchange programs for judicial authorities with a view to enabling them to visit their counterparts in other member states for one or two weeks and acquaint themselves with their working methods and legal systems, preferably those countries with which co-operation is more intensive.
Since police co-operation is not traditionally an area where the Council of Europe is involved, improvements should be furthered by initiatives both from the appropriate police organisations (for example, Interpol) and from member states on a bilateral or multilateral basis. Such initiatives are important and should continue. To improve their efficiency, it seems advisable to study the feasibility of co-ordinating them.
Because a treaty basis is non-existent in most cases, police co-operation depends on the provisions of member states’ national legislation. As a consequence, it is essential for the development of police co-operation to organise an extensive exchange of information on the possibility of rendering assistance and, subsequently, provide advanced training for police officers.
By way of example, some ongoing activities in this area are listed here:
– Austrian and Viennese police authorities run the “Central European Police Academy”, a twenty-three-week post-graduate course open to high-ranking police officers;
– Lithuanian police have relations with the French police with respect to training programmes; they also receive assistance from the German police;
– an exchange of police liaison officers is conducted between some member states;
– co-operation between police, coast-guard and customs authorities is conducted in the Baltic area.
3.3. Future international co-operation in criminal matters
It is to be expected that international co-operation in criminal matters will become more and more necessary. The transition of the central and eastern European states will lead to more frequent and complex contacts and trade of all kinds between all European states. Since every stage of economic and social development has its own types of criminality, it is important to consider international co-operation in the future Europe.
One way to detect needs for the near future is to review the present-day trends in international co-operation between member states in Europe which already have a long experience.
In several western European states, the study of types of crime that can be placed under the heading of international organised crime has increased the need to introduce more sophisticated investigative techniques and methods, such as the interception of communications (telephone, fax, computer networks), electronic surveillance, searches in computer networks, the infiltration of criminal organisations by under-cover agents, transborder observations and reporting obligations, for example, for financial institutions with respect to unusual financial transactions. These studies encounter the problem of balancing the need for investigation with the need to protect basic individual rights. Furthermore, an increase in joint databases and the joint gathering and analysis of information relating to specific types of crime, as well as networks, may be expected. The next step may well be to develop international instruments providing standards for the use of new techniques by member states to assist in investigations being carried out in other member states.
Another trend, at least among western European member states, is that the development of new types of international co-operation and/or simplified procedures is starting within smaller groups of member states which, owing to their geographical situation, are closely related. It is reasonable to expect such developments in other parts of Europe as well.
Predicting long-term developments is difficult since it presupposes an insight into economic and social developments in Europe. Nevertheless, it would be worth thinking about possible structures for international co-operation in the next century. Should we continue to think in terms of the classical concept of completely independent sovereign states, that might or might not be willing to co-operate, depending on whether or not co-operation serves their national interests, and thus continue to regard crime as a national problem affecting national societies? Or would it be more preferable to recognise that crime, even when it occurs in only a few states, may influence more states? In other words, recognise the interdependence of all European states not only in the economic area but also in the prevention and combating of crime? In attempting to provide answers to these questions, the next step would be to design adequate methods of co-operation. That, in turn, raises new questions – questions relating to the desirability of supranational structures for the police and the judiciary, as opposed to keeping the present inter-state co-operation, or perhaps something in between.
The next century is around the corner and the next generation will soon face the task of reacting to the types of crime that will occur then. Taking into account the time needed to develop appropriate instruments, it is advisable to start reflecting on this as soon as possible.
Recent crime trends in central and eastern Europe
Information on criminality in the socialist countries of central and eastern Europe up until the end of the 1980s was hard to come by. In particular, the comparability of whatever information was found was particularly open to question.
Crime statistics produced by the authorities only began to be published more extensively as recently as ten years ago. For a long time, these statistics were practically the only source of information available, and their interpretation has even lately been hampered by many specific problems in addition to those already known. Whether produced for publication or to serve specific needs of local decision-makers, the content of the information was, in the end, determined by political interests. The requirements of these gave rise to large-scale biases in the information. Apparently, this did not happen initially as a direct falsification of the statistics, but rather by extensive non-recording of reported crimes. This practice was widespread particularly in the USSR: from 1990 to 1991, about one-third of reported crimes in Moscow, and about one-fifth in St Petersburg were estimated to have remained unrecorded on unacceptable grounds (Aleksejeva and Patrignani 1994, 35-41). Similar practices were followed on a larger or smaller scale elsewhere, the main exceptions being Hungary and some of the states of the former Yugoslavia (Siemaszko and Jasinski 1995, 20; Joutsen 1993.a, 85). While the situation has changed considerably in the course of the past five years, it is obvious that the crime statistics of, for example, Russia and Poland even today are not entirely free of such manipulation.
The comparability with regard to western societies, in particular regarding property crimes, was also hampered by the dissimilarity of the social and legal systems. On the other hand, differences in the legal system among socialist countries and among different parts of the USSR were small. As a consequence of recent reforms, differences between the legal systems of western and central and eastern Europe have grown smaller; at the same time, correspondingly, differences among central and eastern European countries have grown bigger. The individual changes in the legislation of each country concerned have made it practically impossible to compare present-day data concerning property and economic crime with those from a few years ago.
Besides bringing about an improvement in the availability and quality of the information, the recent processes of liberalisation have also improved the availability of new sources for criminological research. Official statistics no longer represent the only available perspective into the local crime situation. Local research on crime has started to develop and covers the ground, producing a multitude of interesting and fresh information. Several central and eastern European countries have also actively joined international research co-operation.
2. Developments after 1989
In the course of the past ten years, the development of crime in central and eastern Europe has been exceptionally dynamic. In the wake of the reforms of the perestroika period, the total volume of recorded crime decreased between 1986 and 1988 by nearly one-fifth, as well in the Soviet Union and in Poland; the change has been assessed as being real. In contrast, the development in Hungary and Czechoslovakia was already at this time characterised by a relatively rapid increase (Leps 1991, 141). Since 1989, the total volume of registered crime increased across the line in all countries concerned, including the eastern parts of Germany, and is now on a level approximately one-and-a-half times to two times as high as in the beginning of the decade.
Table 1 – Total volume of recorded crime1 (per 100 000 population)
Country/region 1985 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994
Latvia 979 1 107 1 304 1 576 2 326 2 017 1 576
Lithuania 602 844 988 1 200 1 510 1 610 1 577
Moscow 505 608 669 717 883 939 –
St. Petersburg 982 1 080 1 141 1 377 2 131 2 527 2 148
Poland 463 1 442 2 317 2 265 2 297 2 217 2 351
Hungary 1 556 2 172 3 294 4 260 4 338 3 901 3 798
Russia 988 1 098 1 242 1 463 1 856 1 880 1 768
Estonia 851 1 204 1 497 1 997 2 595 2 429 2 383
– criminal code 5 501 7 201 8 055 7 100 7 142 7 548 7 518
– all crimes 13 389 16 250 17 026 15 940 16 231 15 761 14 798
Despite rapid growth, the rate (relative level) of crime continues to lie at a considerably lower level in all countries of the region than in western Europe. If we compare these crime rates with Finland, the main differences in the realm of crimes against the criminal code are found in property crimes. The main explanation for such differences is to be found in variations in the level of hidden criminality (the dark figure of crime). In all countries of the region, reporting of crimes is considerably lower than the western European average (if trying to estimate the level of all crimes, between 5 and 20 percentage points lower than in Finland; here, in turn, the tendency for reporting crimes is on the lower end in the group of western European countries. The difference is greatest for the Baltic countries and Russia, smallest for the Czech republic, Slovakia and Hungary). For reasons explained above, in some countries in the region, this initial bias grows larger in the phase of recording.
Table 2 – The proportion of victims of different crimes who reported the latest crime to the police, in relation to all victims of twelve types of offence in Estonia, Moscow, Poland and Finland (Estonia 1993 & 1995; Moscow, Poland and Finland 1992)
Offence type Estonia Estonia Moscow Poland Finland
Theft of car 86 88 86 94 100
Theft from car 50 37 43 51 57
Car vandalism 49 34 22 30 36
Theft of motorcycle 82 50 100 90 92
Theft of bicycle 29 31 26 50 57
Burglary 59 58 57 54 83
Attempted burglary 20 28 33 25 21
Theft from garage, etc. 7 34 – – 44
Robbery 39 34 17 33 29
Theft of personal property 28 28 20 21 39
Sexual assault 19 6 7 8 11
Assault/threat 23 23 20 27 26
In recent victimisation surveys aimed at measuring crime experiences of ordinary citizens, central and eastern Europe has represented a homogeneous region that, in a European perspective, may be considered as having a relatively high crime level. When interpreting these results, it is, however, relevant to remember that in these countries, crime has been, because of the rapid changes that have occurred, a prominent topic in the media as well as in the everyday interaction of the people. It has been pointed out that such topicality may in some instances produce biases in the results of surveys, in that it increases the tendency of people to remember and relate unpleasant events that have happened to them, and to define them as crimes (Franke, 93-94; Aromaa and Ahven 1995, 2, 7).
Table 3 – The proportion of victims of crime during the last year, out of 100 people interviewed aged 16 or older (Moscow: Aleksejeva and Patrignani 1994, 110-111; Poland and former Czechoslovakia: Siemaszko and Jasinski 1995, 20-27; the remaining data: Aromaa and Ahven 1993, 3, and Aromaa and Ahven 1995, 8)
Average of 15 western European countries
1993 1995 1992 1992 1992 1992 1989/92
Theft of car 0.7 1.6 0.8 0.6 – 0.7 1.2
– owners only 1.5 2.7 2.3 1.2 1.2 0.8 1.7
Theft from car 7.3 7.0 6.3 5.2 – 3.0 5.0
– owners only 15.6 11.5 22.1 10.8 7.7 3.6 6.8
Car vandalism 3.1 5.2 4.7 4.8 – 5.6 6.0
– owners only 6.6 8.6 16.5 10.0 6.9 6.8 8.0
Theft of motorcycle 0.8 0.2 0.2 – – 0.2 0.6
– owners only 5.7 1.3 7.4 3.2 – 1.5 3.4
Theft of bicycle 6.3 4.7 2.8 – – 4.9 3.3
– owners only 9.6 7.0 6.4 4.2 4.7 5.3 4.7
Burglary 5.7 4.2 2.0 2.3 4.3 0.6 1.9
Attempted burglary 3.2 3.9 3.9 2.8 – 0.6 1.6
Theft from garage, etc. 7.9 7.0 – – – 2.6 2.8
Robbery 2.9 3.4 3.4 2.1 1.2 1.0 1.0
Theft of personal property 8.0 5.5 10.7 8.0 6.8 3.2 4.2
– pickpocketing 2.7 2.7 – 6.4 3.4 1.5 2.1
Sexual incidents 2.5 1.3 3.4 3.3 2.6 3.7 2.0
– sexual violence 2.3 0.7 – 2.0 2.4 0.7 0.9
Assault/threat 4.8 5.5 5.0 4.2 3.4 4.1 2.6
– threats 2.6 3.8 – 2.5 2.0 2.1 1.2
– physical violence 2.2 1.7 – 1.7 1.4 2.0 1.4
Looking at the information derived from official statistics and victimisation surveys together, it appears that traditional property crime and crime against individuals in the area has not – at least not as yet – reached proportions that would be exceptional in a European perspective. However, the real increase in crime during the past five years has been unusually rapid. It is the pace of change rather than the total volume of crimes committed that appears to be the main characteristic of crime in the area.
The ratio of recorded violent crime and property crime has remained stable while the volume has increased. If compared to Finland, the proportion of violent crime out of all crimes has been and continues to be relatively low, with the notable exception of the homicide level in the countries of the former USSR (a fact that may be an indication of a disproportionate level of homicides as well as of their statistically unique character – a relative difficulty regarding manipulation).
Table 4 – The proportion of certain types of crime out of all crimes known to the police (= 100)
1989 0.0 0.6 0.5 0.8 0.5 0.1 0.2 0.8 0.5
1993 0.1 0.8 0.8 1.7 0.7 0.1 0.1 1.0 0.9
1989 7 22 2 3 2 2 5 4 2
1993 6 2 2 5 3 3 4 4 2
1989 39 65 65 52 432 59 67 51 70
1993 52 74 76 55 51 53 60 63 81
3. Property crimes
Overall crime trends in central and eastern Europe have largely been trends in property crime, as these comprise, varying according to country, 70% to 90% of all recorded crimes.
The changes have been in part real, in part apparent. Although unrecorded crime – particularly property crime – continues to be considerably greater in the countries of the area than on average in western Europe (one important reason being the lack of a comprehensive theft insurance system concerning private households), it is also considerably lower than previously. The rapid growth of property crime is in fact in part a reflection of a structural change: extensive misappropriations of public property have been transferred into the realm of criminal statistics alongside the privatisation of public properties.
A real change is undoubtedly reflected in the statistical trend of an increasing part of violence in property crimes. For example, the level of recorded robberies including of thefts in the Baltic countries was only about one-quarter of the Finnish level five years ago (which, again, is low compared with western Europe); but in 1994, the level of recorded robberies had already exceeded the Finnish one, whereas the level of thefts was still less than half of the Finnish one. A similar development has also taken place in Poland and in large cities in Russia. Robberies in the area would seem to be directed mainly at private persons, and the rapid increase in robberies is in part explained by the increasing number of firearms in the hands of offenders (see Falck and Dunant 1995, 20-22). Victim surveys indicate that the level of house burglaries as well as of pickpocketing is also very high. Information retrieved from Finnish companies active in St Petersburg and in Estonia, on the other hand, indicates that robberies of businesses are relatively infrequent in both areas; also other property crimes involving companies and committed by outsiders would not seem to be more frequent here than in Finland (Aromaa and Lehti 1995a, 1995b, 1995c; Laitinen et al. 1995). The largest differences are found in crimes committed by company staff, throwback to the corrupt salary system of earlier times. In particular the volume of thefts by staff continues to be very high in some branches. The low rate of crime committed by outsiders, then, is in part explained by the often rather extensive security arrangements adopted by the companies. (Aromaa and Lehti 1995a, 1995b, 1995c).
Table 5 – Robberies and thefts recorded by the police (per 100 000 inhabitants)
Offence/ 1985 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994
Bulgaria – – – 46 65 35 –
Latvia 9 12 15 – – 45 44
Lithuania 6 7 9 10 10 20 22
Moscow 5 13 12 13 26 36 –
St Petersburg 11 15 19 22 48 71 53
Poland 23 24 43 45 46 55 61
– Warsaw – – 127 125 126 – –
– Gdansk region – – 49 59 – – –
Hungary1 15 18 28 – 32 28 –
– Budapest 27 40 65 82 62 51 –
Russia 6 10 11 12 20 27 25
Estonia – 13 16 20 30 40 52
Finland 31 42 53 53 43 40 42
Bulgaria – – – 1 630 2 057 1 931 –
Latvia 475 728 899 – – 1 502 1 047
Lithuania 294 548 718 – – 1 239 1 145
Moscow 153 312 343 400 506 517 –
St. Petersburg 273 462 512 700 1 187 1 291 950
Poland 600 853 1 547 1 295 1 188 1 166 1 258
– Warsaw – – 4 024 3 404 2 878 – –
– Gdansk region – – 2 600 2 026 – – –
Hungary1 846 1 326 2 235 – 2 582 2 170 –
– Budapest 1 351 2 217 3 822 4 866 4 209 3 563 –
Russia 291 463 524 621 1 205 1185 983
Estonia – 843 1 143 1 607 2 233 1 949 1 798
Finland 2 529 3 081 3 274 3 682 3 886 3 886 3 782
4. Violent crime
4.1. General trends
According to surveys of crime victims, the reporting of violent crimes in the area corresponds roughly to the situation in Finland. The level of unrecorded crime increases through manipulation of the statistics in some countries. Yet, the figures reported in the statistics may be assumed, overall, to be more comparable than in the case of property crimes.
At the beginning of this decade, the total level of violent crimes was still clearly lower than in Finland.1 The difference was not only statistical but probably also real. Today, it has levelled off. It is, however, true also for this type of crime that it has not, despite rapid growth, reached proportions that in an international perspective would be clearly unusual, although by European standards, it is relatively high.
Table 6 – Assaults and rapes recorded by the police
(per 100 000 inhabitants)
Offence/country/ 1985 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994
Bulgaria – – – 11.1 11.8 9.7 –
Latvia 5.1 6.0 5.0 6.0 4.7 5.0 5.0
Lithuania 3.8 4.7 5.2 5.0 5.1 5.2 4.4
Moscow 3.7 4.2 4.5 4.6 4.1 5.2 –
St. Petersburg 4.5 5.2 5.0 4.6 5.8 6.5 5.6
Poland 5.7 4.4 4.8 5.0 5.0 5.1 5.3
– Warsaw – – 6.3 5.9 7.8 – –
Hungary2 5.8 4.4 4.5 – 4.2 4.0 –
– Budapest 5.5 5.7 4.8 5.4 4.0 3.5 –
Russia 9.0 9.9 10.1 9.5 9.2 9.7 9.4
Estonia 4.7 3.3 3.3 3.8 4.5 6.8 8.3
– Tallinn – – – 4.1 5.3 9.0 –
Finland 6.1 8.2 7.6 7.5 7.3 7.2 7.6
Table 6 – Assaults and rapes recorded by the police
(per 100 000 inhabitants) (continued)
Offence/ 1985 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994
Latvia – – 14 15 22 28 28
Lithuania 6 7 9 9 9 9 10
Moscow 6 11 11 11 16 23 –
St Petersburg 12 17 18 20 35 49 40
Poland 30 22 27 34 36 43 48
Hungary 58 56 78 – 76 77 –
– Budapest 67 50 62 61 65 62 –
Russia 20 25 28 28 36 45 45
Estonia 8 9 8 20 24 25 27
Tallinn – – – 14 25 26 –
Finland 38 44 47 44 39 37 40
Poland 42 31 38 48 52 62 72
– Warsaw – – 36 51 54 – –
Hungary 77 74 116 – 100 101 –
Finland 335 401 413 406 378 367 389
In the course of the past five years, the rate of recorded violent crimes has increased in Estonia, Latvia, and Russia much faster than in Poland, Hungary, and Lithuania. This difference becomes even more accentuated when considering the trends in homicide.
The changes in the rate of homicide that have taken place since 1989 follow quite different patterns in the countries of the former USSR on one hand, and in the countries of central and eastern Europe on the other. Poland is half way between these two types of development.
Table 7 – Homicides recorded by the police (per 100 000 inhabitants)
Offence/ 1985 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994
Bulgaria 3.2 2.5 3.2 – 4.7 – –
Latvia 5.3 8.8 9.2 11.4 16.1 24.7 –
Lithuania – 5.7 7.5 9.0 10.5 12.5 –
Kyrgyzstan 5.1 7.2 14.0 – – – –
Poland 1.8 1.5 1.9 2.5 2.6 2.9 3.0
– Warsaw – – 3.4 3.1 4.8 – –
– Gdansk region – – 2.1 3.1 – – –
Czech Republic 1.2 – 2.0 2.1 1.9 – –
Hungary 2.2 1.8 1.9 – 3.0 2.9 –
Estonia 5.0 4.3 7.4 7.6 13.9 18.4 20.1
Finland 2.4 2.8 2.9 3.0 3.1 2.5 2.9
Homicides and attempted homicides
Bulgaria – – – 8.5 10.4 11.4 –
Latvia 5.8 6.6 6.2 8.0 11.0 16.4 14.4
Lithuania 4.0 4.2 6.0 6.9 8.1 12.8 14.1
Moscow 3.1 4.6 4.8 5.4 10.1 16.3 –
St. Petersburg 5.1 4.9 5.7 7.8 11.3 17.6 20.2
Hungary 4.3 3.0 3.1 – 4.2 4.5 –
– Budapest 3.8 3.3 2.6 4.0 3.7 4.1 –
Russia 8.5 9.2 10.5 10.9 15.5 19.6 21.7
Estonia 6.1 5.6 8.6 8.6 15.3 21.4 24.3
– Tallinn – – – 9.1 15.0 22.7 24.4
Finland 6.1 7.8 7.8 8.3 8.6 8.2 10.0
Traditionally, the area has been divided into three regions: Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia have belonged to the western low-crime region (less than two homicides per year per 100 000 inhabitants); in Hungary, Bulgaria and the Baltic countries, the situation resembles the Finnish one (two to four homicides per year per 100 000 inhabitants); Russia, Belarus and Ukraine form the eastern, high-crime belt (four or more homicides per year per 100 000 inhabitants). The geographical distribution of the crimes varies across regions: in the western region, it is concentrated in cities and towns, in the middle region and in the east, the situation has been almost identical in both rural and urban areas.
The changes of recent years have not followed these regional categories. In Hungary, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria, the rate of homicides has remained relatively stable; in Poland it has doubled. The most dramatic development is found in Russia and the Baltic countries, where the relative rates of homicides have in a period of a few years grown by a factor of four or five, thus reaching proportions that, on a modern European scale, are unique. The unique nature of the change is accentuated by the fact that it has occurred during a state of peace.
It is difficult to point out any single explanation for these developments. In Poland, where the number of crimes solved is more or less acceptable, the growth has been found to have taken place equally in instrumental (mainly armed robberies) and in non-instrumental (primarily connected with family and drunken quarrels) homicides. In the Baltic countries and in Russia, the ability of the police to solve cases of homicide has deteriorated greatly, a fact that restricts the possibilities of analysing the background to the increase in crime, but that may also be an indication of a change in the structure of the homicides: a rapid increase in homicides related to organised crime. The low rates of crime solving may, however, to a large extent depend on the present high volume of the crimes alone.
The distribution of the solved cases of homicide (about one-half in Estonia and Latvia) has not undergone any significant changes. In this sense, the development has resembled that in Poland; the numbers of instrumental homicides and of unpremeditated homicides have grown at the same pace.
Table 8 – The relationship between victim and perpetrator in Estonia, Finland and Hungary (homicides in the mid- or late-1980s) (sources: Estonia: Leps 1991, 102-103; Finland: Pajuoja 1995, 181-183; Hungary: Merényi 1984, 14)
Victim Hungary Estonia Finland
Spouse or close relative 41 37 36
Other acquaintance 48 41 49
Not previously known 11 22 15
A specific feature of homicides in the area of the former USSR – including the Baltic states as well as Russia – was a characteristic which existed even before the most recent developments, that is, the unusually high proportion of violence directed at victims who were unknown to the offender. In this respect, the distribution of the crimes in the Soviet Union resembled those in the USA rather than other European countries. This fact indicates that instrumental violence had in this area a more central position than it had in other socialist countries or, for example, in Finland. According to information received from Estonia, this fact has remained unchanged, but (at least among solved homicide cases) the proportion of robberies with homicide has not grown significantly. Another feature characteristic to the homicides in the area has been the high number of homicides committed in prisons. Presently, the proportion of all homicides in Estonia has been between 6% and 10%
The modus operandi of homicides has, during recent years, changed in a way which also indicates one of the causes of this development. In Estonia in 1994, one killing in four was by shooting; in Poland and Russia the situation was almost identical. Only a few years ago, homicides using firearms were very rare in that area. A further factor which is assumed to contribute to the recent increase in homicide is the rapid growth of alcohol consumption (see Sidorov 1995).
The sex of the victims of homicide in the southern Baltic area and
in the eastern countries of central Europe has traditionally been different from that in the eastern region. In the first, this corresponds to that in western Europe (for example, Finland). The likelihood of men being victims of homicide has been about twice that for women. In Russia, and in Estonia, the difference has been greater (4:1). In this respect, these countries resemble Italy and the countries of the Iberian peninsula. The developments of recent years have exaggerated the situation significantly, since both in Russia and the Baltic countries, the increase in homicides has included an increase in male victims of homicides.
These changes have not affected the geographical distribution of the homicides: in the Baltic countries and in Russia, the increase in homicides has affected urban and rural areas alike; in Poland, homicides have continued to be primarily an urban problem.
5. Organisation of crime
Official statistics and victimisation surveys shed little light on organised crime trends. It is a difficult phenomenon to define and can often give way to great inaccuracies. It is generally difficult to obtain reliable factual information, and this is also true for central and eastern Europe today.
At present, differentiating between economic crime and other economic activity in the area is very problematic. In these countries , an established illegal private economy has existed for decades, and patterns of activities that have developed within this economy prevail even today. Various illegal practices (from the viewpoint of the legislation) are still today the rule rather than the exception in business activities, and they are usually not considered as being reproachable. Even official estimates of the proportion of the shadow economy out of the total national economy vary by state between 25% and 50% – the proportion grows as we move from west to east and from north to south – and if compared with the real situation, these estimates are rather too low than too high. In central and eastern Europe, a difference is made between the grey and black economies; the first includes “normal” economic crime, the latter covers the “actual” or “real” economic crimes. The difference between the two is often difficult to make.
Today, circumstances are favourable to large-scale organised criminal economic activities. The privatisation of public properties, the sharply reduced size of the army resulting in the circulation of a great number
of surplus weapons dating from the arms race era, and the new trade channels that have come about after the reduction of travel restrictions have created ideal circumstances for profitable operations. The value vacuum in the countries, combined with large numbers of officials left unemployed since the armed forces and the intelligence organisations have been reduced in size, and large prison populations provide a good background for such operations; in addition, the corruptness of the law enforcement authorities allows criminals to operate unhindered.
Organised crime is not a new phenomenon in the area. However, due to the improved circumstances, the number of criminal networks has, according to estimates by the authorities, grown rapidly, and the scale of the activities has grown to larger proportions than before. Criminal groups today control the smuggling and trafficking of stolen goods to and from the area: the primary imports are cars, and the exports concern arms, people, valuable metals and timber. In the widespread smuggling of alcohol, tobacco and consumer electronics, a large number of so-called “legal” entrepreneurs are involved in addition to professional criminals.
In the international narcotics trade, the area has become an important transit route as the wars in Yugoslavia have cut off the traditional smuggling routes over the Balkans. It is also thought that the area’s own narcotics production is on the increase.
Another characteristic mode of activity besides smuggling is the “sale” of security and debt recovery services to business. Principally, it is a question of co-operation that benefits both parties, but it is also a question of subordinating certain branches of activity to the control of criminal groups and channelling the profits for the benefit of these groups (the clearest, albeit not the economically most important example, is the organisation of the kiosk trade in the big cities of Russia).
The protection racket has reached unusual proportions in Russia in particular.
The difference between St Petersburg and Tallinn shows in part how even rather small deviations in the circumstances of the operational surroundings may have a great influence on the profile of activities of criminal groups. In St Petersburg, the sale of security services has become an activity silently accepted by authorities as well as victims, a
Table 9 – The proportion of companies victims of criminal groups, as a percentage of all companies established in the area (Estonia and St Petersburg 1995) (Aromaa and Lehti 1995a, 1995b, 1995c)
Type of offence Estonia St Petersburg
Extorting protection money 3 42
Other types of extortion 5 16
Other crimes - 4
Total 8 51
business that yields relatively good returns for small input and risk. In the more open circumstances of Estonia, risks are greater, and it is profitable to concentrate resources on the equally high-risk but more rewarding trade in cars, coloured metals and timber (also human beings, alcohol, tobacco, and so on). It must be stressed that this is only a difference of degree.
The so-called “black economy” is a multi-faceted, broad scale activity that reacts flexibly to changes in the market. This is also true with regard to legal business in the area. Flexible shifts from the legal sector into the illegal one, from the illegal into the criminal one, and back, according to the pressures of changing circumstances, are characteristic of today’s business life in central and eastern Europe, and particularly in Russia.
6. Crime control
From country to country great differences in the ability of the authorities to cope with the demands placed on them by the growth of crime have been observed. Before 1989, their efficiency – measured by the rate of solved crimes – was comparatively greater in central and eastern Europe than in western Europe, even allowing for the biases caused by the manipulation of statistics. The relative number of law enforcement staff was high and the control of the everyday activities of the population was thorough. The crime-solving climate was, from the perspective of the authorities, almost ideal. On the other hand, police work was seen as unimportant, salaries were below average, and professional training largely neglected. This could only weaken professional morale and increase corruption.
In more recent years, the figures have shown a rapid decline in crime solving everywhere but Hungary. These data on the Hungarian situation are probably correct, since police training has traditionally received more attention there than in the other countries in the area. On the other hand, it is obvious that for some of the countries of central and eastern Europe, the reported crime solving rates continue to be unrealistic. The fact that sometimes statistics provided by the the police and the courts do not correspond at all is a complete mystery. Of the countries in the region of the former Soviet Union, Estonia and Latvia have in recent years made most effort in reforming their police forces – of the police active in Estonia today, more than half have been recruited since 1990. The rapid renewal of the staff may at least to some extent be expected to have cleaned out traditional corrupt activity patterns in the police force; on the other hand this, at least initially, led unavoidably to a decline in the professionalism of the police. The crime statistics of Latvia and Estonia probably give a more realistic picture of the actual performance level of the police than those of their neighbouring countries. However, part of the difference may, for the reason given, also be a reflection of the actual professional level of the police in these countries.
Table 10. The clear-up rate of crimes reported to the police (percentage of crimes solved by the end of the year)
Offence type Estonia Latvia Lithuania Russia Bulgaria Hungary Finland
Homicides 60 53 79 76 76 96 94
Rapes 69 47 79 84 89 88 57
Assaults 55 51 74 70 84 91 76
Robberies 40 .. 58 56 48 68 41
Thefts 19 22 31 36 30 34 30
All crimes 27 31 41 62 36 59 413
The official crime solution rates are not the same for Latvia and Estonia but low by European standards (with the exception of serious violent crime). On the other hand, the continuing decline in police performance is very problematic. In Latvia, where the total volume of recorded crime has been declining for a third consecutive year, the crime solution figures are continuing to decline month after month. In Estonia, the situation is not much better, and Lithuania and Russia show similar trends.
The amount of manpower of the law enforcement authorities in the area has not changed significantly. For example, in Estonia and in Poland, the number of policemen in proportion to the size of the population is presently equal to the average of the member countries of the European Union, but almost twice as high as the rate in Finland. The policy adopted in trying to cope with the different problems has been one of continuing to increase the number of law enforcement staff. In part, this is stifling efforts to attack the most acute problems: inadequate training, low morale, and outdated technical equipment. Scarce economic resources are used to pay staff salaries, which remain low, and no money is set aside for organisational or technical reforms.
Faced with such fundamental difficulties, the countries in the area are starting to develop comprehensive crime prevention programs, helped by western expertise. A first example is provided by the crime prevention program adopted by the Estonian government in July 1995 (Ahven 1994; Riiklik 1994).
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