Ecuador: The Más Seguridad (More Security) plan looks to a consistent strategy

The Más Seguridad plan, which was suspended 11 years ago, has been renewed. On the 15th of August, principal security forces signed an interdepartmental agreement on the matter.

The meeting, chaired by the Mayor of Guayaquil, Cynthia Viteri, was attended by high-ranking representatives from the National Police, the Integrated Emergency Services ECU911, the National Telecommunications Corporation (CNT), the Guayaquil Corporation for Citizen Safety(CSCG), the Guayaquil Metropolitan Police, the Guayaquil Fire Department, the Municipal transit Agency (ATM), the Armed Forces, and the Municipal Department of Justice and security.

The reprised programme will be implemented with the support of the Ecuadorian Ministry of the Interior, the Crown Prosecution service, and the private sector. It is hoped that this interdepartmental collective will enable the organisations responsible for citizen safety, public order, and other areas, to work together for the common good. The objective is to promote a culture of prevention and citizen participation, monitor policy, and carry out regular assessments and reporting.

In the interest of improving safety, Guayaquil has volunteered resources, equipment, and personnel. Eight million US dollars have been earmarked for the purchase of 120 surveillance cameras. One of the strategies is to combine the government’s 1,100 cameras operated by the CSCG with the 500 operated by the Integrated Emergency Services ECU911.

Also anticipated is the purchase of 600 panic buttons for the “Amiga ya no estás sola (Friend, now you’re not alone)” plan, along with 600 bodycams (500 for the Metropolitan Police and 100 for the Tourism Police).  Finally, investments will be made for a new call-centre and a centre for facial recognition and video analytics.

The Ministry of the Interior underlined the fact that the plan is intended as a shock treatment for violence, drug trafficking, illegal mining, child pornography, femicide, possession of arms, etc. In Ecuador last year, more fatalities occurred in social circumstances than in criminal ones.

The plan will concentrate on areas or neighbourhoods with the highest incidences of criminal activity, such as the Modelo and 9 de Octubre districts, two of the busiest commercial areas in Guayaquil.

The Ministry of the Interior’s statistics show that this central commercial area has the highest rate of shoplifting. Between January and March 2019, there were 284 reported cases, constituting a 10.08 % increase on the figures published for the same period in 2018.

The Más Seguridad plan includes the establishment of integrated workgroups where businesses, journalists, academics, politicians, etc. can debate and put forward solutions and suggestions for improving security.

The workgroups will draft their ideas on how to improve the security services and judicial system, on the correct processing of information about crimes, overall support for victims, and peaceful coexistence.

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Cybercrime is becoming bolder

Europol’s 2019 cybercrime report provides insights into emerging threats and key developments, highlighting the fact that cybercrime is continuing to mature and becoming increasingly bold, shifting its focus to larger, more profitable targets as well as new technologies. Data is a key element of cybercrime, both from a crime and research perspective.

Cross-cutting cybercrime phenomena
1. Data is at the centre of the crime scenes. Cybercriminals target data for their crimes, so data security and consumer awareness are paramount for organisations.

  1. Cybercrime is maturing and becoming increasingly bold, shifting its focus to larger, more lucrative targets.

Main trends outlined by the 2019 report on cybercrime
1. Ransomware remains the top cybercrime threat in 2019.

  1. DDoS attacks: the use of ransomware to deny an organisation access to its data is a significant threat.
  2. Data overload in fighting child sexual exploitation material: the amount of online material detected by the police and the private sector continues to increase. This increase puts considerable strain on the resources of investigators. One of the most worrying developments is the online sexual exploitation of minors. Deepfake technology is a technique that places images or video over another video.
  3. Self-generated explicit material is more and more common, driven by an increasing number of minors with access to high-quality smartphones.
  4. Smart cities: the most visible ransomware attacks in 2019 were those against local governments, specifically, in the United States.
  5. The police are increasingly responding to attacks on critical infrastructure.
  6. The Darkweb is becoming more fragmented. Some organised crime groups are also fragmenting their business through a range of online services and marketplaces, therefore presenting new challenges for investigators.
  7. Blockchain markets: as well as evading the police, criminal developers are also motivated by a need to increase the loyalty of their customer base, both in terms of anonymity and reducing the risk of scams.
  8. Business email compromise: data is once again the focus of discussions about business email compromise, which has been identified as a priority issue for both Member States and private industry. While this type of crime is not new, it is evolving rapidly. The scam exploits the way corporations do business, taking advantage of segregated company structures and internal gaps in payment verification processes.
  9. EU emergency response protocol: the coordinated response to large-scale cyber-attacks remains a key challenge to effective international cooperation in the cybersecurity ecosystem.

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Threats to the cybersecurity of the 5G network

Among today’s many technological advancements, 5G (fifth-generation wireless network) is among the ones that will have the most impact on citizens. It offers two significant improvements in data transmission: more volume and more speed. These enhancements to the current network could have a significant effect on both the public and private sectors.

The issue of cybersecurity is one of the challenges facing 5G deployment, and the European Union wants its institutions to be instrumental in dealing with the problem. In March 2019, the European Council and the European Commission presented a series of recommendations outlining the steps and measures to be taken, both at a national and European level, to achieve the necessary high levels of 5G cybersecurity throughout the European Union.

One of the European-level measures was the issue of the Threat Landscape Report to assist member states with their national risk assessments. In October 2019, this was complemented by the publication of the EU coordinated risk assessment of the cybersecurity of 5G networks report. The report was compiled from information provided by Member States and from ENISA (the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity). Its risk assessment outlines the principal threats and threat actors, the assets that could be at risk from those threats, vulnerabilities, risk scenarios, and a set of existing security measures that could be used as a baseline for mitigating those risks and threats.

With regard to principal threats, the scenarios which pose the greatest danger are:

  • Local or global 5G network disruption affecting the availability of the network;
  • Spying of traffic or data in the 5G network infrastructure with implications for confidentiality;
  • The modification or re-routing of traffic or data in the 5G network infrastructure, which could affect the integrity or confidentiality of communications; and
  • The destruction or alteration of other digital infrastructures or information systems through the 5G network, which could affect the integrity or availability of services.

These threats, which already exist for the current network, become more significant with 5G because it increases their potential intensity and impact.

Among the conclusions drawn in the document, four are highlighted:

  • The technological changes introduced by 5G will bring about enhanced functionality at the edge of the network, a less centralised architecture, and an increase in the use of software as part of the 5G equipment. These factors will increase the overall attack surface and the number of potential entry points for attackers.
  • The new technological features of 5G will lead mobile network operators to rely more on third-party suppliers, which, in turn, will increase the number of system attack paths.
  • Any dependency on a single supplier increases the exposure to and consequences of potential supply incidences.
  • 5G networks will play an important role in the supply chain of critical network applications. This will impact the confidentiality, privacy, integrity, and availability of those networks, becoming one of the major national-security concerns and most significant security challenges from an EU perspective.

It should be noted that the Catalan Government has made the deployment of 5G technology a priority for the country, and already has the infrastructure to run usage tests like the one undertaken by TV3 when broadcasting the National Day of Catalonia on the 11th of September 2019.

https://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-19-1832_en.htm

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The present and future of organised crime in the European Union

Organised crime has evolved significantly over the last twenty years, especially in terms of the number of criminal organisations, their modus operandi, the use of technology and organised crime’s ability to infiltrate infrastructures and the public sector and to make the most of legal loopholes.

This was just one of the conclusions reached at the European Police Chiefs Convention 2019 (EPCC), during which some 600 police officials and representatives from 50 countries gathered at Europol headquarters in The Hague.

This annual event brings together police chiefs and officials from the EU and from all over the world to exchange assessments of the threats, challenges and opportunities posed by current and emerging criminal groups. Through hundreds of bilateral and multilateral meetings, the delegates discussed the continuing evolution of organised crime and how it has become a significant challenge for EU security. The police authorities of the EU member states and Europol all agreed that the increasingly cross-border nature of organised crime, often tied to violence between gangs, the expansion of the drug traffic markets and related crimes like money laundering and corruption, constitutes a significant challenge for our society.

In some regions of several EU member states a vicious circle that involves social exclusion, criminality, mistrust of the police and, in some cases, radicalisation has been observed.

Meanwhile, new psychoactive substances, record levels of drug production worldwide, organised trafficking of migrants and the development of online crime have had a profound effect on the criminal panorama.

Europol and the Finnish Presidency of the Council of the European Union concluded that various areas require special attention. These include:

  • a focus on organised crime, considering it as a serious threat to the EU’s internal security.
    • a need to tackle high-level organised criminal groups by developing more effective initiatives, such as the ‘high-value target’ concept at Europol.
    • greater attention being paid to economic and financial crime and the confiscation of criminal assets, which will ensure that the costs of crime are paid by criminals. And the use of new tools like the European Financial and Economic Crime Centre (EFECC) at Europol and the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO).
    • greater flow of information between the police and the private sector, at national and European levels (Europol).
    more investment in crime prevention, which requires a multidisciplinary approach that involves government bodies, NGOs and the private sector.
    a need for an overall EU strategy to tackle organised crime, which may be expanded during the EU policy cycle on serious international crime.

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Urbanism at the service of citizens. Interview with Marik Fetouh, Deputy Mayor of Bordeaux

Marik Fetouh

  1. What does the urban regeneration of Bordeaux consist of? What are the objectives and priorities of this transformation?

When Alain Juppé, then Prime Minister, arrived in Bordeaux in 1995, he stated his intention to awaken “the sleeping beauty”, as Bordeaux was popularly referred to at that time. To make it more attractive, he reconfigured the city, focusing above all on restoring the historic centre, which led to it becoming a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007. Today, with one million visitors, 10,000 new inhabitants, and 11,000 new jobs created in the city each year, Bordeaux has become one of the most appealing cities in France.

Reuniting Bordeaux’s residents with their river

For many years the docks were non-operational, business in the port was scarce, and it moved further down-river to Verdon. The warehouses were abandoned. Some have been demolished and replaced by gardens, others have been converted into exhibition venues or establishments, making the docks a pleasant and relaxing place for a stroll today. Both the river and cruise tourism industries have been intensively developed.

Regenerating the poorest neighbourhoods

In addition to developing the Right Bank, the arrival of the Bordeaux tramway meant that some of the most challenging districts in the city also benefited from the urban development schemes. The flagship project is the Euroatlantique development in the area around the main train station, which has garnered international interest.

Fighting urban congestion and solving the housing problem

During the last 20 years, the city’s planning policies have tried to address these two problems by increasing and concentrating available housing. Each year, a total of 9,000 homes are made available in the Bordeaux metropolis. In the coming months, Bordeaux’s ambitious housing programme will provide 14,000 more homes, 30% of which are earmarked for social housing.

A green city

To create a more pedestrian-friendly city Bordeaux’s open spaces were largely left in their natural state during the regeneration. But, for example, the urbanised landscape and lack of vegetation in some of those areas does nothing but quell the oppressive heat on the hottest days. To solve this problem, the new Mayor of Bordeaux, Nicolas Florianhas decided to plant 3,000 trees in the city every year.

  1. What role have Bordeaux’s citizens played in the project to transform the city?

The people’s voice has, for some time, influenced the development of public spaces. It makes itself heard through advisory bodies like neighbourhood associations, as well as through the obligatory public consultations. In Bordeaux today, it is the inhabitants that inspire the development of the public spaces. Their needs play an integral role in the planning of the different projects for those areas.

This year, the Bordeaux city council has launched its first participatory budget. More than 13.000 of Bordeaux’s citizens voted in favour of the sustainable development projects they hope to see implemented in their neighbourhood. Of the 407 projects submitted, 41 were selected. An anticipated 2.5 million Euro will be invested into those 41 projects. They will be carried out over the next two years.

  1. Do you think that the regeneration of the city has improved the security and the perception of security for its citizens?

 Bordeaux is considered to be one of the least dangerous cities in France. In fact, it’s ranked 9th out of the 11 police districts with more than 200,000 residents, with 72 crimes for every 1,000 inhabitants. Furthermore, the crime rate has been steadily decreasing for the last 15 years. On the other hand, the council is concerned about the “outbreak of anti-social behaviour” in some neighbourhoods, particularly in relation to drug trafficking.

 To reassure pedestrians, the council has provided more lighting in populated areas and streets at night (squares, platforms, alleys …). In addition, the city has cameras installed on street corners, rooftops, and other strategic locations. There are a total of 105 cameras throughout the city.

Lastly, the particularly low crime rate can also be attributed to urban planning, which used the tramway to connect the more problematic neighbourhoods to the city centre in less than 15 minutes, giving their residents a genuine sense of being part of the city.

  1. How can urban planning improve coexistence and integration between different groups?

 Connecting the Right Bank with the Left Bank, via the tramway and the different bridges, has opened up the historic centre of the city to a group of residents who were previously peripheral to it. At the same time, the city has taken a more dynamic and homogeneous approach to creating new places to live.

For the last 10 years, the National Urban Regeneration Programme has been rallying the public and private sectors, elected officials, government services, social bodies, HLM (rent-controlled housing) bodies, and residents to renew more than 500 French neighbourhoods with particularly poor living conditions. These include two districts on Bordeaux’s Right Bank: La Benauge, and to the north of the city, Les Aubiers.

Additionally, three French architectural firms have received the Mies van der Rohe European Union award for the transformation of 530 units of social housing in the Grand Parc district of Bordeaux. To prevent the demolition of several housing blocks, the architectural firms Lacaton and Vassall, Frédéric Druot, and Christophe Hutin joined forces to renovate them. By renovating, all the flats gained in both surface area and natural light. Demolishing is four times more expensive than renovating.

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Otto M. J. Adang: “In the management of public order, interacting and communicating are important tactical tools”

Prof. Otto M.J. Adang (1956) is a behavioural scientist. He has been a lecturer in Public Order & Hazard Management at the Police Academy since 2004. Adang is interested in aggression, reconciliation and collective behaviour in relation to public order enforcement. Since 1998, he has led the Violence and Hazard Management research program in conflict situations, which he set up, aimed at the interaction between police and civilians.

Nowadays Prof. Adang holds several responsibilities.. He is chair in Public order Management and Academic Dean MSc Policing at the Police Academy of the Netherlands. Since 1 April 2016, he is also professor by special appointment of Security and collective behaviour at the Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences at the University of Groningen. And since 2018 he is a visiting professor at the Canterbury  Center of Policing research.

Which have been, in your opinion, the most important changes in public order management the last 10 years in Europe?

The most important change I have seen in the last decades in public order policing in Europe is the development from a one-sided focus on riot control, where the emphasis is on policing disorder, with a low threshold for the undifferentiated use of less-than-lethal weapons, to a more modern and flexible public order management approach where the emphasis is on promoting order setting limits and boundaries in a friendly and firm way.

Admittedly, not all countries have shown this change, but I see how more and more “good practices” in the management of public events are identified.

Actually, what is a good practice? It is good practice to avoid unnecessary frictions and to facilitate the legitimate activities and intentions of participants as far as possible. Monitoring and observing an event in real time is considered important to identify potential problems and to deal with them from an early stage onwards. This involves communicating with participants and informing them to learn what affects them, to avoid misunderstandings about measures being taken and to gain compliance.

In line with the aforementioned question and regarding the last developments, were we are going now? Which will be, in your opinion, the next steps to do?

We could point out several general trends in western countries. Most of them came from an increasing interest to incorporate current scientific understanding into the policing of public events.

Just to mention the some of the most important trends, we find an increasing flexibility where the police, as a whole, or different units can switch easily between different approaches and can easily move about.  In that sense, gaining in flexibility means make changes in their tactics and strategies in terms of reaction or prevention. For instance, there is a general pattern in giving more attention to evidence gathering to increase the “quality” of arrests and to enhance possibilities for successful prosecution and to prefer a perpetrator-focused approach over a collective approach with mass detentions or containments. Nonetheless, we also find a deeper use of a friendly and firm strategic approach centered upon the facilitation of peaceful behaviour and a graded, differentiated and information led approach which increases police capability for dialogue, communication and low-key, targeted interventions at an early stage. In Sweden the talk is about Special Police Tactics, Berlin developed the strategy of the outstretched hand and the UK prides itself on the British model. “Dialogue units” are formed increasingly. For instance, in Germany’s anti-conflict teams, Sweden’s dialogue police, forward intelligence units in the UK, although these latter have gradually taken on a different role).

There is also a general trend to lend more attention to debriefings after “problematic” events, the identification of good practices and the exchange of learning points between forces.

And finally, as regards the intelligence is concerned, there is general agreement about the importance of intelligence about “known” perpetrators. Yet, there is also general dissatisfaction with the quality of the intelligence and a recognition of the fact that intelligence on “known” perpetrators is insufficient and cannot replace an understanding of sensitivities and crowd dynamics in a given context. The international trends reflect an increasing awareness of the mechanisms which trigger collective violence and which measures are more effective than others.

Taking into account your international and academic experience, which do you think are the best police practices/approach to keep the social peace?

Intelligence is seen as a very important means to identify groups of known troublemakers looking for confrontations. For their risk-perception, it should be clear to them (and others) which effective measures will be taken if they transgress these limits. By getting to know them, their anonymity to authorities is reduced. It is good practice to avoid taking measures that create or emphasize an us vs. them situation as much as possible. Interacting and communicating are important tactical tools in this respect. When violence does occur, it is considered good practice to act in a timely fashion rather than wait for situations to escalate and get out of hand and to do this in a focused and targeted way, aimed specifically at those individuals transgressing limits, be they hooligans or activists employing black-block tactics. On the other hand it is recognized that the opportunistic nature of much of collective violence puts a limit on the usefulness of intelligence: once violence escalates, the number of available options runs out quickly. Because of the uncertainties involved, preparations involving a variety of “what-if scenarios” are considered essential.

And finally, regarding public order management, have you detected any bad praxis in Western Europe that deserves to be pointed out?  To what factors would you attribute this malpractice?

Some clear trends can be discerned across countries in relation to the policing of public events.

Where a need for change is felt, this is not for changes in legislation or new powers. Instead, there is a need for a better understanding and use of existing legislation.

Also, we need bear in mind that new weaponry is usually not the first priority. There are other needs so-called innovative less-than-lethal weapons are not innovative at all, because they essentially represent already existing technology that is not yet developed sufficiently to be used operationally, and because they are intrinsically linked to outdated concepts of riot control.

And finally, with regard to equipment, we need to shift towards an equipment for a better personal protection of police officers, equipment to improve communication with and between police officers, equipment to improve possibilities for communication with participants at crowd events, equipment to improve possibilities for information or evidence gathering, or equipment that helps to increase flexibility.

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The Organised Crime Index for Africa

The ENACT Organised Crime Index provides a multidimensional assessment of organised crime and its impact.

Tools for measuring the scope and scale of organised crime in Africa are limited. An improved evidence base is needed so that states and key agents can effectively monitor, analyse, prioritise, and address the threat presented by organised crime systematically and sustainably.

Launched in September 2019, the Organised Crime Index is informed by a baseline assessment that identifies the availability, quality, and relevance of continental data, as well as priority data.

The Index is an interactive platform on the ENACT website. It’s complemented by an annual report intended to sensitise policy-makers.

For evaluating a state’s overall vulnerability to organised crime, the model, which has three sub-indices, is designed to measure three categories of information:
The presence and magnitude of the threat, as a component of 12 types of organised crime
Risk of organised crime
State capacity and political will to respond to organised crime threats.

The juxtaposition between these three categories is analysed to arrive at a cumulative score for each African state, indicating that state’s vulnerability to organised crime threats.

Vulnerability models

Presence: the first of the three component indices concentrates on the presence of organised crime. Specifically, this index serves as a longitudinal study that aims to show how organised crime has evolved to reach its current status, which may eventually provide insights into its future evolution.

Information from the Organised Crime Index for each African state is depicted in a “flower” that combines the scores for each type of crime. These scores can be used to illustrate trends over time.

Risk: Organised Crime gangs exploit week or dysfunctional state institutions, porous borders, and disadvantages in social welfare and local political economies to continue and expand their operations. To measure a state’s risk of organised crime, the second component considers various factors, namely a state’s economy, physical geography, natural resources, social cohesion and conflict, as well as its global trade.

Response: As a third index, state capacity and political will are measured based on the awareness that a state demonstrates in the fight against organised crime. This includes whether they have appropriate legal, political, and strategic frameworks in place to deal with organised crime, as well as whether they are actually achieving results. This index assesses a state’s actions in combating organised crime, noting this capacity and its precursors for the implementation of actual strategic policies.

One component of the Organised Crime Index includes the Data Dashboard, which provides a comparison of two of the broad metrics: the presence and the impact of organised crime.

Presence:  The dashboard compiles data from 12 individual crime types from the Organised Crime Index. It allows users to see the scale of crime subsets for each particular type of crime. For example, “Maritime crimes”, could include subsets like “piracy” and “illegal, unregulated, or unreported fishing activities”.

Impact: The Dashboard provides crime-sensitive indicators to assess the correlations between the five impact areas: security and violence; economy; social development; environment; and governance and democracy. Each of these impact areas is comprised of a series of components to which the user can add a particular crime type and see its impact in the selected area. For example, the correlation between “human trafficking” and the “gender-based violence” or “terrorism” components of the “security and violence” impact area can be seen.

https://enactafrica.org/organised-crime-index

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Fentanyl, much more deadly than heroin

In the United States, the number of deaths from using synthetic opioids has risen from 3,000 in 2013, to more than 30,000 in 2018. In fact, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl are now responsible for twice as many deaths as heroin.

In the USA, a book [1] offering a systematic assessment of the past, present, and possible future of synthetic opioids in the United States, has been released. The book is rooted in the analysis of secondary data, literature reviews, international case studies, and interviews with key informants. The goal is to provide decision-makers, researchers, the media, and members of the public with insights intended to improve their understanding of the synthetic-opioid problem and how to respond to it.

Main conclusions

Fentanyl and other synthetic opioids dominate some regional drug markets in Canada and the eastern United States.
The spread of Fentanyl can be explained more by supply-side factors than by an increase in demand. These issues include the online dissemination of new and more efficient synthesis methods, anonymous e-commerce operators, etc.

In some markets, fentanyl is replacing – not just altering or supplementing – heroin.
The spread of synthetic opioids is a result of supplier decisions rather than user demand.
Despite substantial differences in their drug policies and public health services, the problem in some parts of Canada is as acute as in the east of the United States.
Fentanyl’s spread is episodically quick and persistent.
The synthetic-opioid problem will likely get worse.
The synthetic-opioid problem in the USA has yet to reach a national scale. Some western regions of Mississippi have been less affected until now.

Recommendations

It’s imperative that efforts be made to prevent synthetic opioids from becoming entrenched in parts of the country that have been only moderately affected.
Policymakers must innovate in places where synthetic opioids are produced. New approaches to dealing with the crisis must be given serious consideration (for example, disrupting online transactions, supervised consumption locations, new evidence-based treatments such as heroin-based treatment, analysis of drug contents). The nature and scale of the challenge presented by synthetic opioids, which, in their current forms and distribution methods represent a departure from previous crisis, make these actions necessary. In fact, the solution to this crisis may lie in approaches and technologies that do not exist today.
Governments have a unique responsibility to fund data-collection and the monitoring of drug sales and usage.  The HIV / AIDS crisis prompted substantial investment in new data and monitoring systems, such as the National HIV Behavioral Surveillance System. The number of opioid-related deaths is roughly similar to that at the peak of the HIV / AIDS epidemic, but there has been no comparable investment in improving existing drug control systems.

[1] The future of Fentanyl and Other Synthetic Opioids by Bryce Pardo, Jirka Taylor, Jonathan P. Caulkins, Beau Kilmer, Peter Reuter, Bradley D. Stein.

https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR3117.html

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One in four Germans have been victims of internet crime

The German Federal Office for Information Security (https://www.bsi.bund.de/DE/Home/home_node.html) has published the results of an online survey completed in April 2019 by 2000 people aged between16 and 69 years old[1]. 24% of respondents claimed to have been the victim of internet crime. 29% of respondents felt that the risk of falling victim to a digital crime was “high” or “very high”.

36% claimed to have been victims of fraud while shopping online, 28% of phishing, 26% of viruses or Trojans, 18% of identity theft, 13% of extortion software, and 13% of cyber-mobbing. Some respondents claimed they had been the victim of several types of crime.

61% of respondents stated that they were using antivirus programmes, 58% secure passwords, 52% firewalls, 36% immediately installed software updates, 32% regularly changed their passwords, and 19% used encrypted email services (respondents were able to select multiple answers). As a consequence of this reality, 73% searched for information on internet security. 24% visited the Federal Office for Information Security’s website, and 47% visited police websites. Only 34% said they hadn’t heard about those websites.

The age-group most likely to report a crime to the police is 60-69 years (41%) and 50-59 years (40%), with people from 16 to 29 years and 30 to 39 years the least likely to do so (23%). The group that keeps itself most informed about the internet is 50 to 59-year-olds (38% regularly and 40% when a problem arises) and 60 to 69-year-olds (37% and 38%). The subject most people searched for information on was online banking (62%). Although the vast majority had heard about preventative measures, only a minority takes them into account and tracks them regularly (9%).

Among those that have already fallen victim to digital crime, the most frequently used protective measures are updated firewalls (50%), more secure passwords (44%), and updated antivirus programmes (40%).

[1]Vid. https://www.bsi.bund.de/SharedDocs/Downloads/DE/BSI/Digitalbarometer/Digitalbarometer-ProPK-BSI_2019.pdf?__blob=publicationFile&v=3

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Extortion, violence and organised crime in Latin America

According to a recent study[1], after homicide, extortion is the second most prolific crime committed against the rule of law in Latin American and Caribbean countries. As well as being the primary source of income for maras, youth gangs, and organised crime groups, the growing number of violent deaths arising from extortion means it has now become the most significant threat to personal safety.

An example: in El Salvador, 24% of the population claims to have been the victim of extortion at some point in their lives, and in Guatemala official allegations of extortion increased by 55% between 2013 and 2018.

In recent years, some countries have taken steps to tackle extortion, attempting to resolve the problem with tougher punishments, specialist prevention programmes, the use of specialist police forces and dedicated help-lines for victims. Another measure to have gained popularity is the blocking of mobile phone signals in prisons. This is because in some countries up to 70% of extortions are organised from behind prison walls.

Given that extortion has such a devastating effect on both the peaceful coexistence of a population and its economy, the study makes a series of recommendations for their prevention and control:

  • Push for police modernisation and incentivise the social rehabilitation of inmates. Streamline police and judiciary systems to ensure improved safety for citizens.
  • Encourage the development of joint public and private partnerships such as the one that exists between the sugar production industry and the El Salvador National Police. By doing this the police have been able to obtain transport and communications equipment.
  • Dedicate more resources to finding technical ways to control extortion. For example, Mexico has a mobile application that identifies calls placed from prisons.
  • Extend regional exchanges on good practice for extortion control to speed the sharing of programmes and solutions.
  • Consolidate control mechanisms for extortion cases involving civil servants. Especially in cases where civil servants demand money from citizens to carry out specific administrative proceedings.
  • Generate attractive professional alternatives for members of youth gangs. For example, community centres that organise activities aimed at preventing the recruitment of young people in high-risk neighbourhoods.
  • Provide incentives for small and medium businesses not to deal in cash. In Guatemala it has been found that most proceeds obtained from extortion are invested in businesses, buses, taxis, and bars.
  • Encourage the victims of extortion to undertake criminal procedures by providing them with all the necessary protection guarantees in order to increase the number of official complaints and convictions.

[1] A Criminal Culture: Extortion in Central America.

https://blogs.iadb.org/es/inicio/

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