Whom should we target to prevent? Analysis of organized crime in England using intelligence records

John Denley, Barak Ariel

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Much of the literature on organized crime is based on media, arrests and prosecution records, while research based on intelligence data on this otherwise clandestine criminality is scarce. We present aggregated intelligence data on all known organized crime groups (ocgs) and ocgs members in West Midlands region of the United Kingdom, encompassing records on 2,726 highly-prolific offenders and 280 groups, collated based on over a million records from multiple law enforcement agencies. Using a cross-sectional analysis of the records, we describe in granular details the characteristics, patterns and criminal endeavor of organized crime in one of the largest regions in the United Kingdom. Social network analyses are explored as well, in order to observe the links between both offenders within the same ocg as well as between ocgs. The results debunk previously assumed notions about suitable targets in the policing of organized crime. (a) Based on internal records, police pursue is responsible for the archiving of less than 6% of inactive ocgs, while more than 2/3's of the ocgs become inactive due to 'market' reasons regardless of enforcement pursues; (b) more than half of ocg members have 'replaceable', low-level jobs (i.e., drug suppliers, enforcers and criminal activity organizers), while 20% are considered principal members of the groups (who are older and more experienced offenders, as per their arrest records) (c) larger ocgs appear to pose a greater threat to society than smaller ocgs, while the latter are more likely to be 'naturally' dispersed over time; (d) given the inefficiencies that characterize the current pursue approach, a promising avenue of exploration is the targeting of younger and less experienced co-offenders of ocg members, before they 'formally' join the ocgs and through preventative mechanism. We discuss these findings and offer scholars and practitioners new considerations for future inquiries.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)13-44
Number of pages32
JournalEuropean Journal of Crime, Criminal Law and Criminal Justice
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 by Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands.


  • intelligence records
  • organized crime
  • police
  • prevention


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