Adam Edwards and Peter Gill
The chapters in this book were initially written as papers for a series of seminars organised under the heading of 'Policy Responses to Transnational Organised Crime' and funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). A programme of six seminars was held over a two-year period, from February 1999 to February 2001, but the genesis of this programme came earlier. As convenors of two specialist groups of the UK Political Studies Association - respectively, the Politics of Law and Order Group and the Security and Intelligence Studies Group - we agreed in 1996 that the growing salience of the issue of transnational organised crime (hereafter, TOC), in particular the apocalyptic tone of much of the official and media discussion, called for careful examination. At a one-day conference held in October 1996, two main themes were addressed: how could TOC be defined and measured and, second, what were the implications of the way the issue was being discussed for the policy responses being generated? Papers were presented at the conference by a mixture of academics and practitioners and were subsequently published as a special edition of the International Journal of Risk, Security and Crime Prevention (3(2) April 1998).
These discussions indicated clearly that our initial suspicions had not been misplaced; that is, careful examination is required of a political issue that emerges so suddenly, from relative obscurity to being within a few years the subject of special UN Conferences along with weighty pronouncements as to the magnitude of the threat posed. A prime example of this was provided by a conference held at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington DC in 1994 that included presentations from the heads of the FBI, CIA and FinCEN and the proceedings of which, when published, were entitled: Global Organized Crime: the New Empire of Evil (Raine and Cilluffo, 1994). These preliminary conferences demonstrated the absence of any consensus around the official policy agenda. Advocates of the immediacy and extent of the problem asserted the reality of the threat posed by criminal organisations whose global reach and capacity to threaten legitimate political economies was enabled by rapid developments in communication, information and