The British homeless, victims or offenders

Recently, the House of Commons of the United Kingdom (House of Commons), in the framework of its research activities, published Rough Sleepers and antisocial behaviour. The document offers us a brief analysis of the uses and abuses of the regulation that leads to a criminalisation and victimisation of the homeless community.

The brief study presents the dilemma of particularly vulnerable groups and with extremely high victimisation rates,[1]leading the authorities to address these with the use of a law that victimises and criminalises them. At the same time, it stresses the contradiction between the wish to address the root of the problem underlying the conflict[2] and the biased use of the regulations related to anti-social behaviour in order to find a quick solution to the problem of people in the street.

These abuses are reflected in two areas of action. Firstly, regarding the legal tools available and, afterwards, other dissuasive measures without any legal framework to refer to.

Among the legal tools available to the authorities, there is civil law and those of a penal nature. The latter are stated in section 3a, of the Vagrancy Act 1824, in accordance with which begging can be sanctioned. Reports registered based on this law have increased over recent years, increasing from 1,500 in 2006-2007 to over 2,300 in 2015-2016. Outside the field of criminal law, there are tools emanating from the ’Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, among which, Civil injunctions, Criminal Behaviour Orders(CBO),Community Protections Notices(CPN),Dispersal Powers and Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO). They all involve aspects of prohibition of an action or a possible action, and injunction aspects to prevent recurrence. Its vocation is to sanction, and is aimed at clearly anti-social activities and those that could negatively affect cohabitation.[3]

Furthermore, there are several less formal dissuasive actions, which are intended to inhibit or inconvenience. Among others, there is the so-called defensive architecture, where urban furniture is used, like segregated or curvilinear benches, to make it difficult for the homeless to stay on them. Other less evident measures are the wetting down, meaning cleaning with water and cleaning products areas that are susceptible to being occupied. Also, noise pollution or simply giving indications to leave the area. In this regard, initiatives are more varied and more used than formal methods to denounce offences.[4]

Finally, the report stresses that, although there is a wide range of measures, they have been shown to have little effect. Among the detrimental effects, the moving of activities in the territory, as well as a move towards illegal activities, with a development from begging to committing minor crimes involving theft or robbery.[4]

[1]The report shows us that the homeless are up to seventeen times more likely to be victims of violence than the average person.

[2]The volunteerism sector celebrated the fact that the Home Office updated the guide for the use of regulations in the field of anti-social behaviour last September. At the same time, the British government has also activated several mechanisms to prevent people becoming indigents or to help them recover. Moreover, the Homelessness Reduction Act of 2018(in spite of heavy criticism) and, also, more public investment in systems like Housing First. Over a thousand million pounds (about 1,130,000 Euros) are expected to be invested in this area in 2020.

[3]A study carried out by the British entity Crisis indicates that 36% of municipalities are using legal and dissuasive powers to deal with the homeless.

[4]73% of homeless persons have been the object of a sanction or persuasive measures. Of these, 70% were informal.

[5] Joseph Rowntree Foundation. Theimpact of enforcement on streetusers in England. 2007

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Notable drop in crime in Germany

Polizeiliche Kriminalstatistik 2017The German Bundeskriminalamt has just published the crime data corresponding to 2017. Despite all the forecasts predicting that the waves of refugees over recent years would cause a dangerous increase in crime, figures show a drop of 9.6% with reference to the previous year (5,761,984 incidents compared with 6,372,526 the previous year).

Important drops can be seen in practically all criminal categories, with the exception of economic crime (28%, but in overall figures, 74,070), firearm-related crime (trafficking) and against public health (drugs), pornography and very slightly in crimes involving fraud (20.6% of which are committed via Internet), computer crime (especially among nationals) or against the authority of the State (especially among foreigners).

Crimes against property (theft, robbery without violence, burglaries of homes and businesses) continue to constitute an important fraction of the crime committed (36.3%) and just over two million offences were recorded (2,092,994), a figure that suggests a reduction of 11.8% in reference to the previous year. Decreases are manifested in all criminal categories (the23% drop in burglaries is noteworthy), both when the authors of such crimes are nationals or foreigners.

An important number of crimes continue to take place in the street, 20.9% of the total.

Crimes against immigration law saw a drop of 63.1% (going down from 487,711 to 179,848), which shows that the rhetoric announcing an overwhelming effect due to the arrival of refugees was a mistaken forecast.

Violent crime saw a more moderate decrease, 2.4% in total, especially due to the fall in theft with violence (9.7%). Homicide, on the other hand, only fell by 1.6%.

Crimes against public health (drugs) saw an increase of 9.2%, amounting to 330,580 cases. Most are related to the trafficking of cannabis and marihuana (204,904), amphetamines and by-products (47,662) and, in third place, of cocaine and crack (19,644). The following factors are stressed as being among the causes for such an increase:

  • The increase in police pressure
  • The increase in the availability of such drugs
  • Sales via Internet
  • The recent incorporation of customs officers in the fight against drug trafficking

Finally, it must be stressed that the crime rate per thousand inhabitants is 68.82(the previous year, 77.54) and that the percentage of foreigners arrested is down from 40.4% the previous year to 34.8%.

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Joan Figuera: “We are a flagship police force, solid and professional”

Comissari Joan Figuera LópezJoan Figuera López, commissioner since 2009, born in Barcelona in 1961, holds a degree in Communication Sciences (UAB) and a master’s qualification in Public Security Policy (UOC). He joined the Mossos d’Esquadra in its first year – now 35 years ago -. During his long and intense professional career he has worked, among other services, in six of the new police regions. He is now head of the Control Centre.

Considering all the years you’ve been with the Generalitat Police force – Mossos d’Esquadra (PG-ME) and in the different ranks and assignments you’ve worked on, how do you regard the evolution of this police force in recent years?

Over the years, we’ve developed a police force more or less from scratch! The first year was the beginning of what we are today. Over these years, we’ve gone through different phases of development and several “growth crises”, which have been logical and necessary to get where we are today, nearing the force’s tercentenary. Now as flagship police force, both solid and professional, capable of meeting the most challenging demands of a modern, developed society like ours.

Our contemporary phase can be traced back to 1979 with the passing of Catalonia’s statute of autonomy. At that time, the Mossos d’Esquadra (CME), comprising nearly a hundred officers, only guaranteed the security of institutional buildings and that of the President and the government of the Generalitat. This can defined as a symbolic stage and of recovery (from 1979 to 1984). On 1 June 1983, 260 police officers joined the CME, and it became a functional police force that took up competences of the Generalitat of Catalonia in terms of security. The force created squads for gambling and sports events, minors, the environment, public health and the penitentiary system, and its first information unit. All of these services give notoriety and prestige to the CME. From 1994 to 2008, the long-awaited replacement implementation arrived, which established the PG-ME as an integral police force all over Catalonia. This is the nuclear phase of our function and our reason for being as police officers. During this period, the CME is developed, is professionalised and matures, and reaches over 17,000 officers. Over the last decade – once the replacement implementation was finalised – we went through a transitional phase (from 2009 to 2015), which went from the “post-implantation” – when the internal structure, organisational style and a methodology still needed to be completed – to the organisational and operational solidity that we have today.

Do you think that the Mossos d’Esquadra are now going through a certain generational change? Is there a need for measures to be taken to address the progressive aging of the force?

Generational change is necessary in all organisations. This also applies to ours. This must be conducted with intelligence and not just anyhow. Organisations and the police, and more specifically the CME, have to take advantage of all the acquired knowledge and added value provided by the experience of those who have a long professional career. A failure to do this might be a fatal mistake! A good leader is the one who shows an ability to resolve security problems at times of crisis and in adverse situations. In conditions of “comfort”, anybody is good! This experience must be handled well so that the young can benefit from it, as they will be directing the CME in the coming decades. This is a new and current strategic challenge.

What challenges does the PG-ME face in the near future and what capacities does it have to address them?

The main challenge is public policies and police strategies to address common and organised crime at all levels. Transversal work is needed here, between the Department of the Interior and the PG-ME and the local corporations of the most important cities, which lead their urban guard and local police to generate more productive synergies, beyond their competences and mandates. A more effective “criminal policy” must be fomented and generated by all operators.

Evidently, terrorism at the level at which we’re experiencing it is another very important challenge. Catalonia, from a geostrategic point of view, is in a preferential place and the capital, Barcelona, has great appeal because of its greatness, diversity and worldwide notoriety. The force has made and is making a very important effort, both in terms of prevention and to react to another dramatic horrifying event like a terrorist attack.

Internally we reached our organisational maturity years ago, and this has led to a phase of normality. With this stability and solidity, we have been able to address the security challenges that we have been faced with. The most evident case is the administering of the 17th August in Barcelona and Cambrils. We have many other challenges: transit, anti-social behaviour, second activities, etc., and other important and transcending issues that we will solve with awareness and professionalism.

How do you think the policing system should be articulated in Catalonia?

That’s a good question! It could be answered in different ways, it all depends on the strategic development that we decide on, or that we decide on politically. The question is: “Where do we want to go?” I think that we, as police officers, have a lot to say. There are a few of us, those who have lived through this process of development of the Mossos and local police forces. We can refer to two laws, that of 1991 applying to local police forces and that of 1994 applying to the Mossos d’Esquadra, and the public security system of Catalonia law (2003), within the framework of the statute of autonomy.

Personally, I think that we should transcend, improve on the current model, starting with the good work that that has already been done by the Institute of Public Security of Catalonia (ISPC) with basic joint training and courses in command and specialities. Now there is a need to define the same selection criteria for police officers and commanding officers. Selection and training ought to be the responsibility of the ISPC. We draw on the premise of basic officers with the same values, attitudes and aptitudes. Once the course is passed and with the police qualification or that of commanding officer, they can opt for any local police officer position that, with a final interview to confirm suitability, could enable them to apply for the vacancy or to the municipality that they desire and, after a practice period, they will have a permanent position. It would be necessary to create a gateway system from one force to the other. From local police officer to local police officer and from local police officer to Mossos d’Esquadra and vice versa, with a career plan with specialities and categories and that allows for the mobility of government workers, with a minimum system of permanence and some reservations for specialities.

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European borders, back to (ab) normality?

Frontex - Risk analysis for 2108In February 2018, Frontex[1]published its annual report Risk Analysis for 2018. Like every year, the report offers us a range of elements of analysis and a series of relevant data about the situation on the European Union’s external borders.

On this occasion, the document stresses why it is the first post-migration crisis report due to the Syrian conflict and the first to give us a glimpse, with its data, into the result of the agreement reached by the European Union and Turkey. In general, Frontex presents us with a scenario that partially recovers the flow of migrants on the external borders of the Union before the great migration crisis in 2015-2016.

This return to the previous situation is visualised on the central Mediterranean borders (Libya and Italy), and on the eastern Mediterranean borders (Turkey and Greece) and on the Balkan land borders (ex-Yugoslav republics). Compared with 2016,there is a spectacular drop of 34%, 77% and 90% respectively, and a return to figures similar to those of 2014, but still far from those of 2012.[2]

Despite such resounding data, analysts determine that the pressure has not decreased on the European borders and that there are still worrying cases. We find, for example, that on the western Mediterranean borders (Morocco/Algeria and Spain) detection of illegal border crossings has multiplied by 2.3 in the last year.[3]

In other areas related to the illegal movement of persons,[4] although there is an improvement in general data compared with 2015-2016, Frontex highlights the fact that the pressure is not reduced in comparison with 2013-2014. At the same time, in some geographical areas there is no decrease reflected in the data. For example, with regard to refusal of entry, in eastern European countries figures remain stable and, in some cases, increase.[5]

The elements of preoccupation in its analysis are diverse. On the one hand, efficiency of monitoring policies such as return orders, a worry that had been expressed in previous years.[6]On the other hand, criminal activities associated with border crossings, like smuggling illegal products, people trafficking and terrorist activities.[7]

Finally, different future scenarios are considered. Frontex predicts that the pressure on the southern border will increase[8]and that there will be a negative impact on the Balkans because of Serbia’s agreement with China, India and Iran regarding the liberalisation of visas for their citizens. They also stress that the sea routes will continue to be the most important, without forgetting the weight that transit areas will have like the Balkans and Atatürk Airport as an airport hub for illegal migrants. Finally, they point out the latent threat of Jihadist terrorism, of a more decentralised nature and how the use of fraudulent documentation will be central.

[1]European Border and Coast Guard Agency.

[2]It must be stressed that the nationalities that caused the migration crisis on these borders in 2015 and 2016 were, in order, Syrian, Afghan and Iraqi. In overall figures, in the central Mediterranean, in 2016 181,376 people were detected, compared to 118,962 in 2017; in the eastern Mediterranean 182,277 have become 42,305, and, finally, in the Balkans figures have gone from 130,261 to 12,178.

[3] 10,000 detections in 2016 went down to 23,000 in 2017, and the most habitual nationalities are those of Morocco, Algeria and the Ivory Coast.

[4]Clandestine entries, refusal of entry, fraudulent documents or return orders.

[5] The three nationalities that are most often refused entry ─over 30,000 cases in 2017─ are Ukraine, Russia and Albania. The reasons for refusal vary according to country.

[6] There is a noteworthy bias between the number of return orders and effective returns. In 2017 46% of all the return orders were carried out. The main problems are the identification and acquisition of the documentation necessary from third countries.

[7] Richard Barret’s report Beyond the caliphate: Foreign fighters and threat of returnees, by the think tank TheSoufanCenter, stresses that Daeshi Al-Qaeda’s territorial losses have caused the decentralisation of its activity and a dispersion of its combatants. They calculate that 30% (1,700 aprox.) of the Europeans who fought in Syria and Iraq have returned to the continent.

[8] Especially due to the instable situation in Libya in contrast with Turkey, Eastern Europe and Morocco.

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The European Migrant Smuggling Centre has been in place for two years

Despite the noteworthy decrease in the number of irregular immigrants arriving in Europe, immigrant smuggling continues to be a profitable and vital activity for organised crime in the European Union. The Europol activity report on the two years the European Migrant Smuggling Centre (EMSC) has been functioning provides a detailed insight into the development and trends of migrant smuggling.

Since the migration crisis in 2015, the business of migrant smuggling has been consolidated as a broad and lucrative criminal market, and continues to represent a highly profitable business in which criminals run a low risk of being detected. The model of business of the criminals involved in this crime continues to evolve and responds to the dynamic and needs of migrant flows. Many factors, including the introduction of policies, police activity and budget preferences and irregular immigrant travel, have an impact on migration routes and the operational means used by smugglers. The criminals quickly adapt to change and show great versatility with the methods of transport and technology they use. They are increasingly organised, and set up sophisticated professional networks that operate in transnational terms from the starting point to the target country.

Migrant smuggling to and within the EUAccording to Robert Crepinko, head of the European migrant smuggling centre, “smuggling migrants to the European Union anticipates the use of advanced technology, particularly related to document fraud, the increase in the use of genuine documents and resorting to travel without the appropriate visa, and it will have a significant impact on the future of the nature of migrant smuggling”.

Main areas addressed by the EMSC report

  • Document fraud is a key factor in migrant smuggling. Falsified documents, or those obtained illegally that smugglers have more and more access to, allow irregular immigrants to enter the EU and move around within it.
  • Travel without the necessary visa: irregular immigrants try to enter the EU by air via non-community Balkan countries, using non-visa travel plans. Several Balkan countries introduced the liberalisation of visas for citizens of, among other countries, China, Guinea- Bissau, Iran and Turkey, which allows immigrants to enter a country as a tourist with the right to stay for up to 30 days.
  • Social media continues to be used widely to publicise smuggling services. Criminals use a range of marketing techniques, for example, offering discounts for extra migrants.
  • Modi operandi: criminals use sophisticated and often threatening methods to conceal the smuggling of migrants across borders.
  • The participation of organised police criminal groups in migrant trafficking and other criminal activities is significant. It involves an enormously lucrative activity with relatively low levels of risk.

Major migrant smuggling routes of note include: the central Mediterranean route, the western Mediterranean route, the western Balkans and the borders of the UK and France.

The EMSC of Europol was founded at the start of 2016, after a period of very active irregular migration, with vulnerable migrants who mainly travelled unhindered in large groups across the Mediterranean, from external land borders and beyond the EU. Europol has verified that many immigrants are provided with the journey by criminal organisations. The basic task of the EMSC is to give support, with the collaboration of Eurojust and Frontex, to cross border investigations to stop and pursue organised criminal groups.

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The complex fight against child sex offenders

Crimes against children tend to be local crimes, and most take place within the family circle. However, there are two areas where there is an international component:

Network crimes: crimes against minors are facilitated by Internet, the most intense use of which over recent years has meant a significant increase in crimes. Not only are offenders able to distribute and access child abuse material easily, but they can also make direct contact with children, via chats and social network sites.

INTERPOL’s International Child Sexual Exploitation (ICSE) database – Interpol

Interpol is developing a project along with suppliers of Internet access services to block child abuse material on internet.

Travelling child sex offenders: also known as “sexual tourism“, this type of crime involves the abuse of children in developing countries by people who travel there. The relative wealth of the delinquent, along with the lack of understanding and of effective legislation, means that abusing children is easy in these countries. This type of crime is related to children trafficking, organised crime and murder.

These types of crime represent a major challenge to the police worldwide and require specialist skills and an increase in resources. It is here where Interpol is trying to expand its tools:

Identification of the victim: Interpol is working to identify victims of child sex abuse shown in photographs and films. This implies a combination of traditional investigation methods and the analysis of images. The database of images of child sex abuse is fundamental for this task, which uses a sophisticated image comparison programme to make connections between victims and places.

Yellow warnings: if requested by a member state, Interpol can issue a yellow warning to help to locate missing persons, especially minors. These announcements are distributed internationally and recorded on an Interpol database for missing and kidnapped children.

Green warnings: if requested by a central national office or an international entity, Interpol can issue a green warning to warn of the criminal activities of a particular person, when the person is considered to be a possible threat to public security

Blue warnings: If required by the national central bureau or an international entity, Interpol can issue a blue warning to locate, identify or obtain information about a possible criminal record or any other information relevant to an investigation.

On Interpol’s part, a complete training portfolio is being developed and perfected to cater for the wide range of needs related to international crime against the community that applies the law. There is a particular focus on skills development initiatives that have to be implemented in most-at-risk regions, like South America, Africa and South East Asia…

While many countries have child protection and special victim units, few have specialised staff capable of investigating cases of online child sex abuse or of identifying the victim. Recognising that child sex abuse happens in all countries and societies, a basic function of crimes against children is, therefore, to help to develop policing skills in Interpol member states. For this reason, officials have been deployed in regional offices in Buenos Aires (Argentina) and Lobang (Thailand), as well as in the IGCI in Singapore. Since 2017, there have been focal points in the four African regional offices. These officials have been trained to understand the services, training programmes and other forms of support available to combat crime against minors, and they have the mission of establishing activities and developing projects in their respective regions.

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Conrad J. Fernández i Justes: “there is a great deal of sensitivity to the increasing violence involved in its operations”

Conrad J. Fernández i JustesSuperintendent Cap Guàrdia Urbana of Badalona. President of ACCPOLC. Doctor in Sociology, with a degree in Anthropology, a Master’s qualification in Police Studies, a Higher Diploma in Criminology and Pedagogic Aptitude awarded by the University of Barcelona, and a Diploma in Managerial Functions of Public Administrations awarded by ESADE.

What is your appraisal regarding the current security situation in Badalona?Badalona is a very complex city, with neighbourhoods with a very diverse idiosyncrasy, situated in a far-reaching metropolitan environment. The statistics demonstrate that it coincides with the rest of the metropolitan area with small fluctuations that vary from year to year. We can say that both road safety and public security are excellent or very reasonable.

And regarding the collaborative work of the Local Police with the Mossos d’Esquadra?

Badalona was the first city in the metropolitan area where the Mossos d’Esquadra were deployed. As the installations had not been built, they were accommodated in some units built in the interior of the Guardia Urbana premises. From the very beginning many premises were shared, which encouraged officers of both forces to get to know each other and enabled them to think about collaborative services. When the Mossos had their own station a joint communication area was created where officers from the two forces administered service demands. The room no longer exists now, but we have a Tandem patrol system (integrated by a patrol of each force) which gives us very good results. We are very satisfied with the collaborative work and we continue to explore new ways to provide more efficient security.

What, in your opinion, might be the most worrying problems for a police officer in Badalona at the moment?

From a security viewpoint, there is a great deal of sensitivity to Jihadist terrorism and the increasing violence involved in its operations. From a corporative viewpoint there is a worry about improving the image of the police, about a feeling that the service is excessively politicised, and also that there is too much bureaucracy and particularly about staff renewal. The average age of the Guardia Urbana is constantly increasing and officers are expectant about the possibility of retiring at 60. This would provide more options of a professional career to officers who aspire to positions of command.

How do you feel the Catalan policing system should be articulated?

I am in favour of something similar to the Belgian model; adapting it to our reality. In 2003 I had the opportunity to visit the Dutch and Belgian police. The Dutch model had been articulated within the context of autonomous police regions and with an assigned support region for others. In Belgium a new model called “integration” had just been put into practice. A Belgian police force and two levels of service, federal and local and completely integrated, with a sole police statute to regulate it, common institutions, flexibility and connections between forces. From the beginning I thought that this could be a benchmark for Catalonia.

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2050 scenario: no deaths on US roads

The road to zeroTraffic accidents were, in 2015, the tenth cause of death in the world, according to the World Health Organisation. It is therefore a global problem that many countries are trying to respond to. In the USA, researchers from the Rand Corporation published a study that is set in 2050 and imagines what has been the first year without deaths on the road in this country.

The starting point is the current situation, when over 100 Americans die in their vehicle in traffic accidents every day. It is a problem that has a major effect on young people between the ages of 15 and 24, men and people who live in rural areas. Moreover, over the decades, there has been a continual drop in the number of deaths on the roads (the figure fell by 11,300 people between 1985 and 2011), in recent years a considerable rise has been detected: in 2016 5,000 more people died in traffic accidents than 2011.

The researchers imagined that they were living in 2050 and that it was the first year without a death on the road, thanks to four factors. The first was that almost all vehicles had some kind of atomisation or driving support mechanism. Secondly, that the roads were designed to reduce speed where safety is deficient. Thirdly, the improvement in emergency warning systems and care for those injured, which would reduce deaths in accidents. The last was that, as there were fewer accidents, US citizens would increasingly regard traffic accidents as unacceptable.

To get to this scenario, between 2018 and 2050 it would be necessary to implement measures focused on three areas.

  • Double the efforts and investment in programmes and policies that have been shown to be effective. These policies are seen within a wider concept, from changes in regulations to changes in infrastructures or improvements in highway education.
  • Speed up the most advanced technological changes. Support systems and driver assistance are more and more habitual with new vehicles and, gradually, the age of automatic driving is approaching. Agreements between car manufacturers and developers and suppliers of technology, as well as other actors, will be key in this area.
  • Prioritising safety. It is necessary for Americans to adopt a new culture of safety, based on awareness, education and constant enhancement, both in the individual and collective context. With this new safety system, all divers would be aware that any one of them at some time, indeed inevitably, might make a mistake and cause an accident. This premise would lead to an improvement in all areas of the road system (roads, vehicles, drivers, emergency services), so that when there is such a mistake, the consequences will not be fatal.

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How does police presence and action affect the French public’s perception of security?

A study carried out based on crime interviews Cadre de vie et sécurité, 2008-2017[1] has allowed for the assessment of police presence and action by over 160,000 interviewees over the age of 14, resident in France.

In general terms, the French population views police presence and action positively: 47% of those interviewed think that the police presence in their neighbourhood or municipality is sufficient and 48%, that police action against crime is effective enough. These perceptions continue to be very stable with the passing of time and improve as of 2015, possibly due to a better and more visible police presence, reinforced after the terrorist attacks. Despite this, 19% of these individuals considered the police presence to be insufficient and 27%, inexistent. With regard to socially disadvantaged areas, the percentage of those who consider police action not to be effective enough rises to 44%.

Apart from global percentages, aspects like the individual characteristics of the person interviewed and the place of residence have an impact on the assessment of the presence and effectiveness of police action.

Individual characteristics

In general, men and more elderly people view police presence and effectiveness positively.

  • 49% of the men interviewed think that police presence in the local environment is sufficient compared to 45% of women. 49% of men also consider police action effective, compared to 46% of women.
  • 52% of people over 66 believe that the police presence in their neighbourhood is sufficient and 50% believe that police action is effective enough.

Features of the place of residence

In general, the perception of the effectiveness of police action in the fight against crime is very positive in rural areas, but it gets worse in urban conurbations with over 100,000 inhabitants and in the metropolitan area of Paris. As shown in the graphic below.

Assessment of police action in the fight against crime in accordance with the territory

accio_policial_en

Source: Interviews CVS (2008-2017): INSEE-ONDRP-SSMSI; data treatment: ONDRP. The people interviewed are over 14 and live in France.

Although a casual connection has not been successfully established, there seems to be a link between the presence and effectiveness of police action in the municipality and the population. Inversely, the individuals who feel most insecure also tend to be more critical when assessing police practices.

Further information:

[1] The Cadre de vie et sécurité survey was conducted by Ministerial Statistics Service and Internal Security (SSMSI) from 2015, and the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE) and the National Crime and Penal Response Observatory (ONDRP) from 2007.

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The world’s biggest cybercrime market is dismantled

Webstresser suspendedThe administrators of the DoS web site webstresser.org were arrested in April 2018 following the ‘Power Off’ operation, a complex operation led by The Dutch Police and The UK national crime agency, with the support of Europol a dozen police agencies from around the world. The administrators lived in the UK, Croatia, Canada and Serbia. More measures were taken against the main users of this market in the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Croatia, the UK, Australia, Canada and Hong Kong; the illegal service was closed and infrastructures were closed down in the Netherlands, the US and Germany.

Webstresser.org was considered to the biggest market in the world for the hire of denial-of-service attacks (DoS), with over 136,000 registered users and four million attacks recorded in April 2018. Orchestrated attacks were directed against critical online services offered by bank, governmental institutions and police forces, and against victims of the gambling industry.

In a DoS attack activated by this service, the attacker has remote control of the connected devices to aim a large amount of transit at a website or an online platform. Whether this transit consumes the width of the band of the website, or if it weakens the server or consumes other essential resources, the final result of an unmitigated DoS attack is the same: the victim’s website is slowed down to such an extent the it cannot be used, depriving users of essential online services.

With webstresser.org, any registered user could pay a nominal fee via online payment systems to hire the use of this platform. The fees offered were so low ¾about 15 Euros per month¾ that they allowed individuals with little or no technical knowledge to launch paralysing DoS attacks.

International Police cooperation was fundamental in the success of this investigation, launched by the Dutch National Unit for Advanced Technological Crimes and the UK National Crime Agency, as administrators, users, critical infrastructure and victims were spread out all over the world.

Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) and the Joint Action Task Force (J-CAT) gave their support to the investigation from the start, facilitating the exchange of information between members. A centre of command and coordination were set up at the headquarters in The Hague, led by Europol.

DoS attacks are illegal. Many enthusiasts are involved in cybercriminal activities that may appear to be at a low level, without bearing in mind the consequences such crimes involve. Penalties can be severe: if you launch a DoS attack or offer, supply or obtain services to launch one, you can receive a prison sentence, a fine or both.

Individuals who exercise cybercrime often have a range of skills that can be positive skills related to codifying, gambling, computer programming, cybersecurity and other fields associated with ICT that are in great demand, and there are many careers and opportunities available to anyone interested in these areas.

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