Paramilitaries, Ordinary Decent Criminals and the Development of Organised Crime following the Belfast Agreement

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This paper analyses the changing nature of organised and serious crime following the peace process in Northern Ireland which officially commenced in 1998. The paper examines those social and situational factors which have led to a rise in crimes perpetrated by both paramilitary Republican and Loyalist organisations, and by the so-called ‘ordinary decent criminals’ (ODCs) unrelated to paramilitary groups. These social and situational factors include political, security and economic variables. As such, Northern Ireland is an important case study of the political context of crime. Whilst the peace process is a positive development, the political transition has had associated unintended effects. The fact that rising crime has resulted from political change should not be taken as an argument against the peace process. Serious crime is defined as indictable offences which by their nature attracts substantial terms of imprisonment. Organised crime is defined in accordance with the National Criminal Intelligence Service as three or more individuals engaging in long-term profit-driven criminal activity (NCIS, 2001). Thus organised crime may include serious offences and other offences (forgery, theft) if they occur as part of organised criminality. The problems surrounding this definition will also be addressed later in the paper.

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... A second fixture in the British and Irish crime landscape are the so-called family firms, clusters of criminals centred on, but also extending beyond kinship ties (Hobbs 2001). A third type of criminal structure specifically linked to Northern Ireland are paramilitary groups that have allegedly been morphing more and more into criminal gangs (Clarke and Lee 2008;Moran 2004). ...
This paper provides an introduction to the articles and report excerpt submitted to the special issue of Trends in Organized Crime on ‘Organised crime and illegal markets in the UK and Ireland’. The aim of the special issue is to draw together empirical research findings and theoretical accounts on various manifestations of organised crime in the particular geographic context(s), the evolution of organised crime, the links between organised crime, the legal sphere and paramilitary groups, as well as an account of the demographic profile and attitudes of citizens in areas in which organised crime groups thrive.
... Indeed, these advanced community networks can link and bridge across the divided communities and also provide both short and long-term solutions to the perceived and actual deficiencies in state-based provision of security (c.f.Topping, 2008b). Brewer (2001) has also indicated that as part of the process of democratic transition in the country, there has been minimal erosion of the local 'moral' economies, 'grapevine' networks and social organising derived from the Troubles to maintain social order and control (Moran, 2004). It is therefore to specific issues of engagement between the state/police and civil society capacities to which the literature shall now focus, in order to provide a contemporary perspective on the 'place' of security governing. ...
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Policing in stable, democratic societies is predominantly concerned with the implementation and practice of the globally accepted philosophy of ‘community policing’. This concept, while itself contested within the modern structure of policing, is further problematized in transitional and post-conflict societies. From police legitimacy to opposing and alternative provision of security governance, the imposition of community policing encounters problems on many different levels. What the thesis examines is the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s (PSNI) reform towards a vision of community policing in line with Recommendation 44 of the Independent Commission on Policing for Northern Ireland (ICP); while taking into account the contributions of non-state security governance provision at the community level. On one hand, the thesis provides a unique study of the delivery of community policing by the PSNI. And on the other, it provides the first empirical and systematic study of the contribution of non-state actors to the broader policing landscape. Using the sample areas of East and West Belfast, the research involved in-depth, semistructured interviews with PSNI officers and members of community-based organisations who contribute to the governance of security within those areas. At the core of police reforms in the country, the implementation of community policing (or Policing with the Community under the rubric of the Independent Commission for Policing) has faltered in the face of institutional inertia within PSNI. This has been exacerbated by a failure of the police to adequately increase the co-production of security through improved engagement and utilisation of Northern Ireland’s diverse community infrastructures, which contribute broad policing rather than police issues. Through the concept of community governance policing, the thesis argues that there is a significant potential for interaction between PSNI and non-state ‘policing’ actors. And as part of the ICP’s vision of policing more broadly conceived, the thesis contends that through PSNI embracing the unique ‘otherness’ to security provision at the community-level, there is an opportunity to enhance the delivery of community policing which includes community-based contributions to policing and security governing as part of a broader ‘public good’.
... Topping, 2008b). Brewer (2001) has also indicated that as part of the process of democratic transition, Northern Ireland has largely retained these local 'moral' economies, 'grapevine' community safety networks and social organising derived from the conflict to maintain social order and control (Moran, 2004). It is therefore to specific issues of engagement between the state/police and civil society capacities to which attention shall now turn, in order to provide a contemporary perspective on the 'place' of community security governance. ...
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1998년에 북아일랜드는 1972년부터 약 30년 동안 계속되었던 무력분쟁을 멈추고 평화로운 사회를 건설하기 위한 여정을 시작했다. 그러나 그 길은 절대 순탄하지 않았으며, 오히려 최근 브렉시트 이후 정치적으로, 사회적으로 더욱 더 불안해지고 있다. 본 논문은 북아일랜드를 위로부터 타협된 평화, 아래로부터 만들어지는 평화, 평화의 반대자들이 구성하는 ‘평화와 갈등의 동학’이 존재하는 공간으로 파악한다. 그리고 Romsbotham, Woodhouse & Miall이 제시한 모래시계 모델(Hourglass Model)을 기반으로 이 동학을 분석하여 북아일랜드가 여전히 정치적으로, 사회적으로 불안정한 원인이 ‘갈등 봉합’ 중심 갈등 해결 접근방식에 있음을 밝히고자 한다.
Crime and punishment in Ireland must be set in its historical context. The history of crime in Ireland is inextricably linked to the often torturous relationship between Britain and Ireland. Punishment in Ireland has until recent times been focused on protest and disorder. The partition of Ireland at the beginning of the twentieth century saw the emergence of two district criminal justice systems but despite the differences contemporary crime rates throughout the island are similar and lower than Great Britain and most European countries. The academic study of crime in Ireland is extremely limited and many research gaps exist.
This study explores the local effects of internal armed conflict on postwar violent crime in Northern Ireland. It argues that exposure to wartime violence will lead to higher levels of violent crime in the aftermath of conflict. Particularly, it claims that exposure to violence committed by armed groups challenging the state (anti-government groups) will have this effect, as it erodes the legitimacy needed for local law enforcement agencies to function effectively. This, in turn, is expected to contribute to the emergence of a postwar public security gap that lowers opportunity costs to resort to violent crime for a range of local actors. To evaluate these propositions, spatial statistics on a subnational dataset covering war-related fatalities for the period 1969–98 and police crime records for the postwar period 2002–06 are employed. The results indicate that the more an area has been exposed to violence, and the larger the proportion of this violence committed by anti-government groups, the more violent crime on the local level. This study hence contributes both to the burgeoning literature on the legacies of civil war and to recent research emphasizing the need to disaggregate non-state actors.
Many armed-political movements such as Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Irish Republican Army (IRA) have their roots in insurrection and rebellion. In Armed Political Organizations, Benedetta Berti seeks to understand when and why violent actors in a political organization choose to vote rather than bomb their way to legitimacy. Berti argues that the classic theory of the democratization process, which sees violence and elections at opposite ends of the political spectrum, is too simplistic and wholly inadequate for understanding the negotiation and disarmament work that is necessary for peaceful resolution of armed conflicts and movement toward electoral options. In this comparative study, she develops an alternative cyclical model that clarifies why armed groups create a political wing and compete in elections, and how this organizational choice impacts subsequent decisions to relinquish armed struggle. In her conclusion, Berti draws out what the implications are for a government's ability to engage armed political groups to improve the chances of political integration. Berti's innovative framework and careful choice of case studies, presented in a jargon-free, accessible style, will make this book attractive to not only scholars and students of democratization processes but also policymakers interested in conflict resolution and peacekeeping efforts. © 2013 The Johns Hopkins University Press. All rights reserved.
This article explores the Ulster Volunteer Force's (UVF) decision in May 2007 to abandon its campaign of “armed resistance” and pursue “a non-military, civilianized, role” in Northern Ireland. It does so by analyzing the UVF's actions in light of the academic literature on strategic terrorism. The central argument advanced in the article is that the UVF's decision to put its weapons “beyond reach” and re-structure its organization along civilian lines is (a) internally consistent with its stated policy of countering “violent nationalism,” (b) symptomatic of the transformation in the sociopolitical context since the 1994 paramilitary cease-fires, and (c) the logical outworking of the group's lack of popular legitimacy among its core Protestant working-class support-base. The article concludes with an assessment of the risks and possible dividends that the end of UVF terrorism holds for the Northern Ireland peace process.
This paper analyses the use of violence by Loyalist paramilitaries over the course of the peace process and after the Belfast Agreement. The focus is on a largely understudied area in post-Agreement Northern Ireland. It is argued that Loyalist paramilitaries have continually used violence to serve several objectives. These objectives of violence have shifted in dominance as the peace process unfolded. A typology of the objectives of Loyalist violence is presented which identifies violence as either between or within groups and in search of political, sectarian, economic, social and territorial aims. In conclusion, the article considers some implications of continuing Loyalist paramilitary violence for state and society.
This article addresses an urgent but largely sidelined issue in the study of peace processes: that high levels of violence—usually framed as ‘crime’—are often ubiquitous in societies experiencing peace processes, even after the signing of peace accords. From South Africa to El Salvador, Guatemala to Northern Ireland, rising interpersonal violence has come to characterise the ‘peace’. This violence often takes place in the context of ambitious post-conflict development efforts. The article argues that even the seemingly non-political violence after peace accords is intimately linked to war, as well as the peace process—in both the causes of violence and in the types of violence that perpetrators use. In order to conceptualise post-peace accord violence, the article presents a framework of violence based on the perpetrators of violence and the types of violence (social, economic or political) that occur. This unpacking of post-peace accord violence emphasises the interconnectedness of political and non-political violence, and stresses the importance of security for development.
This article considers in detail loyalist paramilitary activity in Northern Ireland since the paramilitary cease-fires of 1994. The continuing nature of contemporary loyalist violence is documented with reference to sectarian attacks against members of the “Other”/Catholic community and associated symbols of that community, violence directed at other loyalists, and the potential for future violence given constitutional uncertainty regarding Northern Ireland's position within the United Kingdom. The article also challenges assumptions within the broader literature of an inability within loyalist paramilitary groups to move beyond violence in the post-cease-fire period with particular reference to their conflict transformation efforts.
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The Crowned Harp provides a detailed analysis of policing in Northern Ireland. Tracing its history from 1922, Ellison and Smyth portray the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) as an organisation burdened by its past as a colonial police force. They analyse its perceived close relationship with unionism and why, for many nationalists, the RUC embodied the problem of the legitimacy of Northern Ireland, arguing that decisions made on the organisation, composition and ideology of policing in the early years of the state had consequences which went beyond the everyday practice of policing. The authors provide an extended discussion of policing after the outbreak of civil unrest in 1969, ask why policing was cast in a paramilitary mould, and look at the use of special constabularies and the way in which the police dealt with social unrest which threatened to break down sectarian divisions. Examining the reorganisations of the RUC in the 1970s and 1980s, Ellison and Smyth focus on the various structural, legal and ideological components, the professionalisation of the force and the development of a coherent, if contradictory, ideology. The analysis of the RUC during this period sheds light on the problematic nature of using the police as a counter insurgency force in a divided society. Perceptions of the police, and the opinions of rank and file members are examined and an assessment is made of the various alternative models of policing, such as community policing and local control. This book offers important lessons about the nature of policing in divided societies
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In this paper we present a "routine activity approach" for analyzing crime rate trends and cycles. Rather than emphasizing the characteristics of offenders, with this approach we concentrate upon the circumstances in which they carry out predatory criminal acts. Most criminal acts require convergence in space and time of likely offenders, suitable targets and the absence of capable guardians against crime. Human ecological theory facilitates an investigation into the way in which social structure produces this convergence, hence allowing illegal activities to feed upon the legal activities of everyday life. In particular, we hypothesize that the dispersion of activities away from households and families increases the opportunity for crime and thus generates higher crime rates. A variety of data is presented in support of the hypothesis, which helps explain crime rate trends in the United States 1947-1974 as a byproduct of changes in such variables as labor force participation and single-adult households.
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In developing an effective police response to ‘organised crime’ many practitioners look to the experience of Northern Ireland and interagency models of co-operation. Recent action against organised offending in the province have been politically-driven, reliant on both emergency legislation and the support of a Terrorist Finance Unit which was integrated within the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) in 1996. Reviews of emergency legislation have sustained the profile of paramilitary funding, whilst the Northern Ireland Office has focused upon fears that ex-paramilitaries would become ‘organised mafia-type’offenders. In exploring a number of developing models of interagency co-operation in the UK, this article will focus on the creation of two interagency bodies: the Terrorist Finance Unit in Northern Ireland, and the Joint Action Group on Organised Crime of the Metropolitan Police. The aim is to show that an organisational response and a policing strategy within Northern Ireland directed against ‘terrorist funding’ is now the integrated criminal police response to all forms of crime in Northern Ireland. With the creation of the National Crime Squad and a statutory National Criminal Intelligence Service in April 1998, the prospect of these developments to be extended throughout the UK are all the more apparent. Despite the additional political momentum to enhance European-wide action against ‘international organised crime’ it is cautioned that recent UK interagency initiatives lack transparency, and pose major challenges to existing structures of accountability.
This is the second of two articles detailing aspects of the financial operations of the Provisional IRA (PIRA). While the first article highlighted some of the socio-organizational factors both underpinning and limiting the nature and extent of certain fundraising activities by the PIRA, this article presents details of activities traditionally elusive to empirical enquiry. Two case studies conducted between 1996 and 1999 - of domestic money laundering and money-lending activities by the PIRA in the Republic of Ireland - are summarized here and highlight a number of themes deserving of further exploration. These include the opportunistic nature of some PIRA strategies, the entrepreneurial nature of its financial investments, and significantly, the relatively unsophisticated nature and mixed successes of some of its money-laundering practices. Based on the analysis presented, the emergent challenges posed by such activities for counter-terrorist, societal, and civil efforts, while numerous, are not insurmountable in light particularly of the PIRA's failure to effectively manage its financial activities as successful as it might be assumed.
Ending crime has become the leading challenge of South Africa's democratic government. While the growth of criminality in the society began in the early 1980s it peaked – in common with other societies attempting to move from authoritarian rule to democratic governance – during the years of political transition. But, South Africa's system of criminal justice is ill‐prepared to face the challenges of growing crime. Policing remains centralized, unresponsive to local needs and requires the upgrading of detection services, urgent reform is also required in the areas of prosecution, sentencing and incarceration. The National Crime Prevention Strategy, the key response of the new government to growing levels of crime, while an important initiative, remains too centralized and reliant on Pretoria‐led rather than local initiatives. On the ground, critizens are responding in their own way: for the wealthy (and generally white) this means greater use of the burgeoning private security industry, for less fortunate communities it increasingly raises the possibility of taking the law into community hands through vigilante action.
This paper draws attention to the failure by criminologists to adopt Social Network Analysis techniques and concepts in the investigation of criminal networks, particularly in the study of organized crime. It argues that such techniques offer significant potential advantages to criminologists seeking to analyse relational data, whilst nonetheless recognizing the methodological limitations implicit in certain aspects of such data obtained in serious crime studies. Three differing accounts, published more than 25 years ago, are examined and, it is suggested, collectively represent a conceptual model offering an explanation as to how extensive criminal networks operate successfully. This model, if employed together with social network analysis techniques, promises significant progress towards the understanding of serious crime networks in the United Kingdom.
The revival of loyalist terrorism has been one of the most important developments in Northern Ireland in the 1990s. This article examines the recent fund‐raising activities of the two main loyalist paramilitary groups, the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) and the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF). The article focuses particularly on the financial importance of extortion and blackmail to the groups in the 1990s. It also explores how the loyalist paramilitaries have responded, as organizations, to the constant need for funds, a need that has continued unabated since both groups implemented cease‐fires in 1994. The paper concludes that because of internal arrangements, the loyalist groups are consistently risking the spread of corruption among their most senior members.
The rise of the Russian mafiya, a distinctive form of organised crime, reflects more than just the temporary dislocations and uncertainties of the country's transition from a Soviet state to a free market democracy. Rooted in Russian tradition and Soviet practice, it is also a formidable obstacle to this evolution. This has serious implications for the new Russian polity: weakening central authority, diluting the state's monopoly of coercion, discrediting the market economy and ultimately usurping and distorting the very functions of the state. Any solution will have to come not from tougher policing (which itself would threaten a return to authoritarianism) but from a wider political and cultural response.
Main points Absolute comparisons between recorded crime levels in countries may be misleading; therefore, only comparisons of trends are normally made in this Bulletin. Information collected for 1998 from 29 countries indicated that: • Recorded crime rose on average by 5% compared with a fall of 1% in England & Wales. • England & Wales had one of the lowest homicide rates in Western Europe and London had a below average rate. • Violent crime recorded by the police rose by 2% on average compared with a fall of 6 % in England & Wales. • Domestic burglaries recorded by the police fell by 1% on average compared with a fall of 6% in England & Wales. • Thefts of motor vehicles recorded by the police rose by 3% on average compared with a fall of 2% in England & Wales. • Drug trafficking offences recorded by the police rose by 7% on average compared with a 9% fall in England & Wales. • A study by the Council of Europe covering 9 European countries (including all parts of the United Kingdom) for selected offences, showed that, in 1995, England & Wales (after Portugal) tended to sentence offenders to the longest terms of imprisonment. However, the use of custody as a sentencing option in England & Wales was found to be similar to that in the majority of the other countries. • The prison population rate in England & Wales (at 126 prisoners per 100,000 general population in 1998) was the highest per capita rate in Western Europe (apart from Portugal (144)). This rate was, however, well below that found in the USA (668) and some Eastern European countries (Russia (690) and the Czech Republic (215)).
Northern Ireland has been variously described as having an 'imperfect peace' in which 'acceptable levels of violence' persist. Despite the endorsement of the main political parties to the principles of 'democracy and non-violence' enshrined in the Belfast Agreement, an insidious and brutalizing form of paramilitary violence continues within communities. The government has opted to 'see no evil, hear no evil' given what is at stake in the wider political process. According to this approach, one must accept certain violent excesses in the interest of moving forward politically. This, however, creates both conceptual and practical problems around the issue of violence in Northern Ireland. By conceding that paramilitaries 'police' the informal criminal justice system in their areas with political and, in most cases, legal impunity, the government, de facto, defines what is 'an acceptable level of violence'. This paper considers the nature and extent of ongoing paramilitary violence, how it has become enmeshed in the negotiated settlement and the consequences of this politicization of violence.
In September 1999 the Independent Commission on Policing in Northern Ireland, chaired by Chris Patten, published its recommendations. This article examines the political context of policing reform, the contents of the report and the rejection of its core ideas in the Police (Northern Ireland) Bill published in May 2000. The central argument of the paper is that the Commission's radical model of policing a network of regulating mechanisms in which policing becomes everyone's business failed, because it gave insufficient attention, like much modern writing on policing, to the role of the state and the vested interests within policing. The overall outcome is that the Patten Commission has been effectively policed and Northern Ireland will be left with a traditional, largely undemocratic and unaccountable model of policing with most of the control resting with the Secretary of State and the Chief Constable.
The paper provides an idiosyncratic view of the framework developed by the Independent Commission on Policing for Northern Ireland in response to the call for a ‘new beginning’ for policing in Northern Ireland in the Belfast Agreement signed on 10 April 1998.
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