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orgaised crime-child pornogaphy?

Asked by jotresser | Mar 13, 2008 | University Level > Sociology > Coursework
jotresser asks:

Is the sellng of child pornography orgaised crime?

etutor answers:

Quite a difficult question, and one needing an understanding of the context of 'organised crime'. The key problem here is that there is no agreed definition of 'organised crime'. The common use of the term has undergone fundamental changes from its coinage by the Chicago Crime Commission in 1919 until the end of the 20th century. "Organised crime" originally referred to diffuse patterns of cooperation among criminals within the context of interwoven legal and illegal structures in big cities. Through the late 1960s, however, bureaucratic and mass media processes of simplification redefined "organised crime" as synonymous with a vast criminal organisation of (largely) Italian-Americans operating outside the conventional social structure. In later years the public perception was somewhat modified by extending the term "organised crime" to other, allegedly ethnically homogeneous criminal organisations.

A review of the "organised crime" literature reveals a variety of alternative, definitional approaches, but no comprehensive theory that can reconcile the confusing and at times conflicting understanding of the term "organised crime." The concept of "organised crime" is thus often broken down into propositions regarding the individual characteristics of "organised criminals," the forms and dynamics of criminal groups, organisations and networks, the overarching power structures within illegal markets and within the underworld, and the relationship between legal and illegal social structures. The detailed analysis leads to a refined and more subtly differentiated understanding of the various aspects of the "organised crime"-problem but it does not lead to a coherent picture of "organised crime."

Organised crime often victimises businesses through the use of extortion or theft and fraud activities like hijacking cargo trucks, stealing goods, committing bankruptcy fraud, insurance fraud or insider trading. Organised crime groups also victimise individuals by car theft, burglary, credit card fraud, and stock fraud. Some organised crime groups defraud national, state, or local governments by bid-rigging public projects, counterfeiting money, smuggling or manufacturing untaxed alcohol or cigarettes, and providing immigrant workers to avoid taxes. Organised crime groups also provide a range of illegal services and goods, such as loansharking of money at very high interest rates, bookmaking and gambling, prostitution, drug trafficking, gunrunning, providing murder for hire, illegal dumping of toxic waste, people smuggling and trafficking in human beings.

The key issue is perhaps that organised crime reaches into communities by driving other crime and instilling fear. It manifests itself most graphically in drug addiction, sexual exploitation and gun crime, but is also strongly linked to immigration crime, fraud, money laundering, internet-related crime and other threats, including armed robbery, kidnap and extortion, vehicle crime, freight crime, cultural property crime, counterfeit currency and environmental crime. Organised crime groups are essentially businesses that exist to make money. Players at the top often resort to extreme violence, intimidation and corruption to protect their businesses. These groups operate across global frontiers in tight-knit gangs, display in-depth knowledge of law enforcement methods and exploit sophisticated technologies to conceal their activities from the authorities.

The two most profitable and harmful enterprises controlled by organised crime groups are drugs trafficking and people smuggling. .The economic and social impact of organised crime is staggering. For example, global profits from people smuggling are estimated to be $10 billion annually. 280,000 problem drug users cause around half of all crime. Every £1 spent on heroin is estimated to generate about £4 of damage to the national economy. There are around 400 organised crime bosses in the UK with an amassed criminal wealth of approximately £440 million. The economic and social costs of organised crime are estimated to be at least £20-£40 billion per year.

The Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) was created in 2006 to spearhead efforts to tackle the growing problem of international crime gangs. SOCA brings together several different government agencies, and they all work together to take on drug and gun trafficking, and to focus on recovering criminal assets. Legislative changes mean SOCA and other law enforcement agencies are now fighting organised crime more effectively, with the power to seize the profits of criminal activities and redirect a proportion of them back into law enforcement, compel co-operation with investigators, so that suspects and their associates have to surrender relevant documents to investigators when requested, intercept user logs and emails of suspected criminals, impose conditions on convicted organised criminals post-release, such as tighter restrictions on where they travel and who they associate with.

The UK government certainly regards child pornography as an example of organised crime. In the particular area of child pornography, the relevant legislation is the Sexual Offences Act of 2003. The Act clarified the law in a number of key areas, specially with respect to 'consent'. Children under 13 can now never legally consent to sexual activity It created a new offence designed to protect children from exposure to indecent text messages, and online and offline 'grooming' (communication with a child with an intention to meet and commit a sex offence) It strengthened sentences for exploitation through child prostitution and pornography, trafficking involving prostitution and indecent exposure. It improved protection from known sex offenders who are now tracked more closely, with those convicted of a sex offence overseas required to register when they come to the UK. Clearly, all of these provisions relate to the creation and distribution of child pornography, including its sale.

I hope this is helpful.

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