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Prediction and Control of Organized Crime: A Risk Assessment Instrument for Targeting Law Enforcement Efforts

NCJ Number
Trends in Organized Crime Volume: 6 Issue: 3-4 Dated: June 1, 2001 Pages: 4-29
Date Published
June 2001
26 pages

This article presents an organized crime risk-assessment tool that systematically analyzes opportunity factors, the criminal environment, and the harm potential of the 17 risk factors identified.


This risk assessment instrument can be used to assess the influence of organized crime in local jurisdictions, as well as the impact of new laws and policies on opportunities for organized crime. The factors that explain the existence of organized crime are opportunity factors, the criminal environment, and special access or skills. Opportunity factors for organized crime are of four types: economic, governmental, law enforcement, and social or technological changes. Changing combinations of these factors determine the nature and extent of organized crime in a specific area. The criminal environment is determined by the nature of the offending population in a particular area. A history of organized crime activity in an area suggests that opportunity factors are more likely to be exploited by criminal groups that are organized and motivated to mount criminal enterprises. Special skills or access might also be required to exploit criminal opportunities; e.g., criminal opportunities in the domains of electronic commerce and computer technology require expertise in order to exploit them. The assessment of harms from organized crime enterprises can involve monetary costs, individual harm, and long-term social costs. These estimates can be based on the harm caused in past known cases, combined with any additional factors present in the local jurisdiction that might aggravate or mitigate the harm. There are also exacerbating factors such as geographic location, local history, and cultural traditions or beliefs. This article suggests ways to collect the information necessary to measure the presence and degree of these factors that bear upon the nature and threat of organized crime in a given area. 99 references

Date Published: June 1, 2001