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Transnational and organised crime in Pacific Island Countries and Territories: police capacity to respond to the emerging security threat


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Watson, D, Sousa-Santos, JL and Howes, LM ORCID: 0000-0002-5656-6121 2021 , 'Transnational and organised crime in Pacific Island Countries and Territories: police capacity to respond to the emerging security threat' , Development Bulletin, vol. 82 , pp. 151-155 .

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IntroductionTransnational and organised crime is supported by complexand multilayered networks that are mobile, well-resourced,and strategically coordinated, enabling them to operateacross international borders (Dandurand 2007, Le Mière2011) and making them a major threat to global security(Goldsmith and Sheptycki 2007, UN Office on Drugs andCrime (UNODC 2016). Many argue that such crimes areprimarily opportunistic, facilitated by global connectivityand the potential for large profit margins (Madsen 2009).Dialogue among scholars and practitioners about transnationaland organised crime in Pacific Island Countries andTerritories (PICTs) often only scratches the surface of themultifaceted nature of the threat posed to many smallcountries in the Pacific. PICTs are characterised by largegeographic areas largely of ocean, porous maritime borders,and relatively small populations scattered across multipleislands. For criminal enterprises, the relatively low risks ofdetection of transnational and organised crime in thisenvironment, along with its profitability, contribute to thegrowing attractiveness of the region as a potential crimehub.The perpetrators may assess opportunities for profit againstthe risks of detection, investigation, and prosecution bylocal, regional and international law enforcement agencies.In doing so, they weigh the perceived capabilities andlimitations of such agencies and their likely willingness –or reluctance – to engage in complex and costly transnationalinvestigations (Dandurand 2007, Williams andGodson 2002).Adding to these challenges, policing organisations inmany PICTs are often under resourced (McLeod 2009). Thecomplexity of transnational and organised crime makes itnotoriously difficult to detect, monitor, investigate andrespond effectively to the illegal activities involved even forwell-resourced police organisations. In PICTs, the challengesare exacerbated by the vast geographic expanses ofocean and the limited resources available for patrolling it.For many PICTs, the legal systems are not well equipped todeal with the magnitude or types of crimes taking placewithin their jurisdictions (Schloenhardt 2009). Some crimeclassifications are yet to be included in local legislation,further limiting the extent to which they can be adequatelyaddressed. Organisations thus encounter myriad challengesin their attempts to mount appropriate responses to new andemerging threats. Dialogue at the regional level has raisedquestions about the response capacity of security serviceproviders – including customs, immigration, and police – todeal with current and emerging transnational and organisedcrime threats. This paper considers the nature of the threats,existing legislation, policing resources and Pacific specificapproaches to capacity development. We conclude that, tobe most effective, capacity development must be led by the PICTs and undertaken in light of a nuanced understandingof existing capacities and limitations within the region.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Watson, D and Sousa-Santos, JL and Howes, LM
Keywords: Pacific Islands Countries and Territories, transnational crime, policing capacity
Journal or Publication Title: Development Bulletin
Publisher: The Australian National University Canberra
ISSN: 1035-1132
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