Combating International Crime: The Longer Arm of the Law

Combating International Crime: The Longer Arm of the Law

Combating International Crime: The Longer Arm of the Law

Combating International Crime: The Longer Arm of the Law


The realities of international law enforcement are widely misunderstood and generally mystifying to the uninitiated. Combating cross border crime is a dynamic aspect of criminal justice that is becoming increasingly complex and directly relevant to national and local level policing. Unfortunately, most practitioners and policy-makers are unaware of the challenges involved in investigating and prosecuting criminals across frontiers. Professional experience of combating international crime is still restricted to relatively few.

Globalization and technological advances have removed a great many obstacles to trade, but they have also facilitated access to new markets for criminal entrepreneurs whilst offering a reduced risk of detection and prosecution. International criminal activity has always had a significant and direct, if somewhat obscured, impact on the national and local crime picture. Without effective or coordinated cross-border strategies to redress the balance, the risk and damage caused by international criminal activity will continue to increase unabated.

Combating International Crimemaps the practicalities and challenges in making cross-border law enforcement work. Addressing the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of crime or criminality which is conducted in more than one country, it provides a professional assessment and describes the essential ingredients of international law enforcement cooperation. It identifies the needs, implications and consequences of a comprehensive strategy against international crime and contains case studies by way of illustration and example.


Professional criminals are creatures of opportunity and exploit every possibility offered by the conveniences of modern living. The term ‘globalisation’ has become so commonplace that it risks becoming a cliché, but its reality represents ever greater challenges for the law enforcement community. Throughout the world, criminals and crime groups are increasingly familiar with the disparities and vulnerabilities in criminal justice systems which allow them to exploit gaps in the illicit marketplace. They have learned to spread the risk of detection and conviction across countries and even continents knowing full well that their competitive advantage improves with every border crossed.

Until recently, law enforcement generally paid insufficient attention to such multi-country challenges in any systematic way. There is always more than enough to do addressing national problems and locally recognised priorities. Unfortunately, this often means that the international aspects of an investigation are neglected or put into the ‘too difficult’ box and left on the shelf to gather dust. However, the threats from transnational crime can no longer be so easily ignored. Governments and national authorities are working to redress this past failure to engage properly against international criminality by backing a burgeoning array of international initiatives and frameworks.

The EU has formally declared its commitment to developing a region of freedom, security and justice. Citizens in every region of the world share these same aspirations and ambitions. In pursuit of these values, nation states have historically surrounded themselves with barriers to safeguard their sovereignty. These barriers may exacerbate national differences in language, culture, and laws, and the challenge for international law enforcement is to overcome these obstacles and negotiate a mutual understanding by which to comfortably with that used in another. Where this is the case . . .

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