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  • Created on: 28-05-15 16:30

The global criminal economy..

·         As Held et al suggest, there has also been a globalisation of crime- an increasing interconnectedness of crime across national borders. Globalisation creates new opportunities for crime, new means of committing crime and new offences. The same process has also brought about the spread of transnational organised crime.

       Castell (1998) argues that there is now a global criminal economy worth over £1 trillion per year. This takes a number of forms:
·         Arms trafficking to illegal regimes, guerrilla groups and terrorists.
·         Trafficking of women and children - often linked to prostitution or slavery
·         Smuggling of illegal immigrants, e.g. the Chinese Triad make an estimated $2.5 billion annually. Etc.

·         Part of the reason for the scale of transnational organised crime is the demand for its products and services in the rich West. However, the global criminal economy could not function without a supply side that provides the source of the drugs, sex workers and other goods and services demanded in the West.
This supply is linked to the globalisation process. E.g. in Colombia, an estimated 20% of the population depend on cocaine production and cocaine outsells all of Colombia’s other exports combined.

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Global risk consciousness..

·         Globalisation creates new insecurities and produces a new mentality of ‘risk consciousness’ in which risk is seen as global rather than tied to particular places.

  • Whether such fears are rational or not are a different matter. Much of our knowledge about risks comes from the media, which often give an exaggerated view of the dangers we face. E.g. In the case of immigration, the media create moral panics about the supposed ‘threat’. Negative coverage of immigrants has led to hate crimes against minorities in the UK.

·         One result is the intensification of social control at the national level. The UK has toughened its border control regulations e.g. fining airlines if they bring in undocumented passengers.

·         Another result of globalised risk is the increased attempts at international cooperation and control in the various ‘wars’ on terror, drugs and crime- particularly since the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001.

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Globalisation, capitalism and crime - Taylor..

 Taylor (1997) argues that globalisation has led to changes in the pattern and extent of crime. He also argues that globalisation has created greater inequality and rising crime due to market forces.

·Globalisation has created crime at both ends of the social spectrum as it has allowed transnational corporations to switch manufacturing to low wage countries thus creating job insecurity.

Deregulation means that governments have little control over their own economies e.g. creating jobs. Marketisation has encouraged people to see themselves as individual consumers, calculating the personal costs and benefits of each action, undermining social cohesion.

All these factors create insecurity and widening inequalities that encourage people, especially the poor, to turn to crime. The lack of legitimate job opportunities destroys self-respect and drives the unemployed to look for illegitimate ones. At the same time, globalisation also creates criminal opportunities on a grand scale for elite groups. E.g. the deregulation of financial markets has created opportunities for insider trading and the movement of funds around the globe to avoid taxation.

Globalisation has also led to new patterns of employment, which have created new opportunities for crime. It has led to the increased use of subcontracting to recruit ‘flexible’ workers, often working illegally. Taylor’s theory is useful in linking global trends in the capitalist economy to changes in the pattern of crime. However it does not adequately explain how the changes make people behave in criminal ways. 

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Patterns of criminal organisation - Hobbs and Dunn

·         Hobbs and Dunningham found that the way crime is organised is linked to the economic changes brought by globalisation. Increasingly, it involves individuals with contacts acting as a ‘hub’ around which a loose-knit network forms, composed of other individuals seeking opportunities, and often linking legitimate and illegitimate activities.

‘Glocal’ organisation

·         These new forms of organisations sometimes have international links, especially with the drugs trade, but crime is still rooted in its local context.

·         Hobbs and Dunningham therefore conclude that crime works as a ‘glocal’ system- it is still locally based, but with global connections. This means that the form it takes will vary from place to place, according to local conditions, even if it is influenced by global actors such as the availability of drugs from abroad.

·         Hobbs and Dunningham argue that changes associated with globalisation have led to changes in patterns of crime e.g. the shift from the old rigidly hierarchical gang structure to loose networks of flexible, opportunistic, entrepreneurial criminals. However, it is not clear that such patterns are new, or that the older structures have disappeared.

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·         This refers to the organisations that emerged in Russia and Eastern Europe following the fall of communism- itself a major actor in the process of globalisation. Glenny traces the origins of transnational organised crime to the break-up of the Soviet Union after 1989, which coincided with the deregulation of global markets.

·         The collapse of the communist state heralded a period of increasing disorder. To protect their wealth, capitalists therefore turned to the ‘mafias’ that had begun to spring up. These were often alliances between former KGB men and ex-convicts.

·         However, these mafias were unlike the Old Italian and American mafias. The new Russian mafias were purely economic organisations formed to pursue self-interest.

·         With the assistance of these organisations, billionaires were able to find protection for their wealth and a means of moving it out of the country.  

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Green Crime - Global risk society..

·         Most of the threats to human well-being and the eco-system are now human-made rather than natural.

·         Beck argues that in today’s late modern society, we can now provide adequate resources for all. However, the massive increase in productivity and the technology that sustains it have created new, ‘manufactured risks’- dangers that we have never faced before. Many of these risks involve harm to the environment and its consequences for humanity, such as global warming. 

Trafigura - toxic waste was dumped where people work (ivory coasts) to spare MEDC's of western waste. People died, food was killed.

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Green Criminology..

But what if the pollution that causes global warming or acid rain is perfectly legal and no crime has been committed- is this a matter for criminologists? We can identify two opposed answers to this question:

·         Traditional criminology has not been concerned with such behaviour, since its subject matter is defined by the criminal law, and no law has been broken. The advantage of this approach is that it has a clearly defined subject matter. However, it is criticised for accepting official definitions of environmental problems and crimes, which are often shaped by powerful groups such as big business to serve their own interests.

·         Green criminology takes a more radical approach. It stars from the notion of harm rather than criminal law. Green criminology is a form of transgressivecriminology- it oversteps the boundaries of traditional criminology to include new issues. Furthermore, different countries have different laws, so that the same harmful action may be a crime in one country but not in another. Thus legal definitions cannot provide a consistent standard of harm, since they are the product of individual nation-states and their political processes. Green criminologists argue that powerful interests are able to define in their own interests what counts as unacceptable environmental harm.

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Two views of harm..

·         In general, nation-states and TNC's adopt what White (2008) calls an anthropocentric or human centred view of environmental harm. This view assumes that humans have a right to dominate nature for their own ends, and puts economic growth before the environment.

For example, TNC's like McDonalds adopt an anthropocentric view of environmental harm.

·         White contrasts this with an ecocentric view that sees humans and their environment as interdependent, so that environmental harm hurts humans also. This view sees both humans and the environment as liable to exploitation, particularly by global capitalism.

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Types of green crimes..

·         Nigel South classifies green crimes into two types: primary and secondary.
Primary green crimes are ‘crimes that result directly from the destruction and degradation of the earth’s resources’. South identifies four main types of primary crime:

·         Crimes of air pollution, Crimes of deforestation- Between 1960 and 1990, one fifth of the world's tropical rainforest was destroyed, for example through illegal logging, Crimes of species decline and animal rights - 50 species a day becoming extinct. Crimes of water pollution.

·      Secondary green crime is crime that grows out of the flouting of rules aimed at preventing or regulating environmental disasters.

·         State violence against oppositional groups- States condemn terrorism, but they have been prepared to resort to similar illegal methods themselves. 1985 - French secret police blew up Greenpeace ship. As Day says, 'in every case where a government has committed itself to nuclear weapons or nuclear power, all those who oppose this policy are treated in some degree as enemies of the state'.

·         Hazardous waste and organised crime- Disposal of toxic waste from the chemical, nuclear and other industries are highly profitable. 

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Green Crime Examples..

Deepwater horizon and the Gulf oil spill..
The BP oil spill off the coast of New Orleans brought the issue to the fore in the United States of America, seen as the world’s most powerful nation. Oil flowed from the Deepwater Horizon oil rig for three months in 2010 and the spill is said to be the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the fuel industry. 

Environmental impacts - oil spills resulted in 11 deaths, 6,100 dead birds, 600 dead turtles and 153 dead dolphins.

The 2006 Ivory Coast toxic waste dump was a health crisis in the Ivory Coast in which a ship registered in Panama, the shipping company Trafigura, offloaded toxic waste at the Ivorian port of Abidjan. The gas caused by the release of these chemicals is blamed by the United Nations and the government of the Ivory Coast for the deaths of 17 and the injury of over 30,000 Ivorians with injuries that ranged from mild headaches to severe burns of skin and lungs. Almost 100,000 Ivorians sought medical attention for the effects of these chemicals

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Evaluation of Green Criminology..

·         It recognises the growing importance of environmental issues and the need to address the harms and risks of environmental damage, both to humans and non human animals.

·         However, by focusing on the much broader concept of harms rather than simply on legally defined crimes, it is hard to define the boundaries of its field of study clearly. Defining these boundaries involves making moral or political statements about which actions ought to be regarded as wrong. Critics argue that this is a matter of values and cannot be established objectively.

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Drugs: A Global Business..


Caribbean is one of smuggling routes for cocaine - gangsters moving large quantities by boat, air and person through the region. 

UN estimate 50 million regular users world-wide and global illegal trade worth $400 billion a year: global issue.

Employment for tens of thousands of people both legally and illegally - farmers (grow it), accountants (look after cash), lawyers, dealers, police-men and health workers are kept busy supporting or combating the trade. 

It's a lot easier to move goods around the world now.

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