Category Archives: Cybercrime

Quick links for the last week

New issues:

  • Law and Human Behavior 34(5) http://is.gd/fhQvR Recidivism risk, psychopathy, informants, quality of forensic examiners and more
  • Criminal Justice Matters 81(1) Articles on pre-crime, masculinity & violence, probation, secure envts & more http://is.gd/fbBVC
  • Psychology, Crime & Law 16(8) http://is.gd/fhQqp Articles on execution, prisoners, rape myths, child abuse, eyewitness testimony

New research articles:

  • Murder–suicide: A reaction to interpersonal crises. Forensic Science International 202(1-3) http://is.gd/fhQjP
  • The role of perpetrator similarity in reactions toward innocent victims Eur J Soc Psy 40(6) http://is.gd/fhPZ3 Depressing.
  • Detecting concealed information w/ reaction times: Validity & comparison w/ polygraph App Cog Psych 24(7) http://is.gd/fhPMW
  • Eliciting cues to children’s deception via strategic disclosure of evidence App Cog Psych 24(7) http://is.gd/fhPIS
  • Can fabricated evidence induce false eyewitness testimony? App Cog Psych 24(7) http://is.gd/fhPDd Free access
  • In press, B J Soc Psy Cues to deception in context.http://is.gd/fhPcY Apparently ‘context’ = ‘Jeremy Kyle Show’. Can’t wait for the paper!
  • Narrative & abductive processes in criminal profiling http://is.gd/fgjH3 Free if u register for Sage trial http://is.gd/eUubM
  • Children’s contact with incarcerated parents: Research findings & recommendations American Psych 65(6) http://is.gd/fd45s
  • Comparing victim attributions & outcomes for workplace aggression & sexual harassment in J App Psych 95(5) http://is.gd/fd3Vb
  • Correctional Psychologist Burnout, Job Satisfaction, and Life Satisfaction. In Psych Services 7(3) http://is.gd/fbBKC
  • It’s okay to shoot a character. http://tinyurl.com/32u3w9v Paper on morals in video games
  • Perceptions about memory reliability and honesty for children of 3 to 18 years old – http://ht.ly/2z8O1

And some other links of interest:

Quick links

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Having neglected this blog somewhat in recent weeks I find myself now overwhelmed with interesting snippets from around the web and blogosphere. Here are just a few that caught my eye:

The Eyewitness Reform Blog reports on a conviction “overturned for failure to “seriously consider” expert testimony on eyewitness factors”: “The court didn’t go as far as to say that it was error to exclude the expert testimony, but citing Illinois case law, found that it was error to fail to provide a reasoned basis for its exclusion.”

The Eyewitness Reform Blog also highlights the recent publication of an article in the NIJ Journal on making eyewitness identification in police line-ups more reliable.

Convicted conman Frank Abnegale claims that a combination of technology and living in “an extremely unethical society” has made crime easier: “You can build all the security systems in the world; you can build the most sophisticated technology, and all it takes is one weak link — someone who operates that technology — to bring it all down” (hat tip to Slashdot).

Some great posts from Romeo Vitelli at Providentia recently, including the tale of a psychotic priest killer, an exorcism case in Singapore, the killer who boasted about how easy it was to lie to psychiatrists, Guy de Maupassant’s struggle with neurosyphilis and two articles on shell shock.

Scott Henson over at Grits for Breakfast has also had some interesting posts up in the last few weeks, including a critique of the “policy many police and probation departments have adopted of rounding up all the registered sex offenders in their community into custody on Halloween night to keep them from having children come to their door” (see also Karen Franklin’s post) and a comment on the fact that although Americans are less likely to be victims of crime, their fear of crime just keeps rising.

Forensic psych Karen Franklin highlights some interesting (and free) articles on sex offending in the journal Sexual Offender Treatment. Whilst I’m talking about Karen, I’ll point you to a great little piece she wrote in September in which she demolishes a few myths and provides some practical advice about what it takes to become a forensic psych.

Michael Connolly at Corrections Sentencing points us towards the impressive set of evaluation resources over at the Bureau of Justice Assistance.

Carnival Against Sexual Violence 34 is up at Abyss2Hope.

Photo credit: bigeoino, Creative Commons License

New issue: Psychology, Crime & Law 13(5)

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The October 2007 issue of Psychology, Crime & Law 13(5) is now online. Follow the link to the publisher’s website for abstracts and access to full text articles.

Sign up for personalised ToC alerts here .

Contents include:

  • Alcohol as drug of choice; Is drug-assisted rape a misnomer? – Miranda Horvath; Jennifer Brown
  • Appropriate treatment targets or products of a demanding environment? The relationship between aggression in a forensic psychiatric hospital with aggressive behaviour preceding admission and violent recidivism – Michael Daffern; Murray Ferguson; James Ogloff; Lindsay Thomson; Kevin Howells
  • The measurement and influence of child sexual abuse supportive beliefs – Ruth Mann; Stephen Webster; Helen Wakeling; William Marshall
  • The stability and generalizability of young children’s suggestibility over a 44-month interval – Annika Melinder; Matthew Scullin; Tone Gravvold; Marianne Iversen
  • The role of cognitive distortions in paedophilic offending: Internet and contact offenders compared – Dennis Howitt; Kerry Sheldon
  • The impact of bullying and coping strategies on the psychological distress of young offenders – Susie Grennan; Jessica Woodhams
  • A psychometric study of six self-report measures for use with sexual offenders with cognitive and social functioning deficits – Fiona Williams; Helen Wakeling; Stephen Webster
  • An investigation into maladaptive personality functioning in Internet sex offenders – Sarah Laulik; Jane Allam; Lorraine Sheridan

Quick links

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Quick links from around the web:

Philosophy prof Eric Schwitzgebel posts on religious conviction and crime (his previous musing on religiosity and crime is here), drawing on a 2001 meta-analysis (which he charmingly describes as “a way of doing math instead of thinking”). Cognitive Daily’s Dave Munger comes to the defence of the meta analysis here.

A University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill press release (31 July) highlights a study reporting that “confirmed incidents of child abuse and neglect among Army families increase significantly when a parent is deployed to a combat zone… Researchers compared rates while enlisted soldiers were at home and while they were deployed for combat operations between late 2001 and the end of 2004.”

Karen Franklin (of the Forensic Psychologist blog, which I’ve been enjoying recently) highlights a new Australian study that considers a prisoner’s emotional state and how that impacts on successful reintegration.

New Scientist documents the rise of cyberbullying:

A study last month by the Pew Internet & American Life Project [pdf] based in Washington DC found that one-third of US teenage internet users have been targets of cyber-bullying… Research into the causes and effects of cyber-bullying is still in its infancy. But it is becoming clear that aspects of online communication encourage people to act aggressively, prompting them to do things they wouldn’t dare to try in real life. What’s more, the ability to reach more people, and the always-on culture of the internet, means that cyber-bullying can have an even more detrimental effect on the victim than conventional playground bullying.

But the Pew Survey does conclude that “most teens say that they are more likely to be bullied offline than online”.

Angel Desai over at GNIF Brain Blogger reports on a World Health Organization gathering to progress on recommendations made in the WHO “World Report on Violence and Health”. Angel explains:

[This] landmark report highlighted the psychological impact of interpersonal violence, supporting emerging research on the long-term, medically-related consequences of violence. This on-going study acts to solidify the link between violent behavior and consequently, mental distress. One of the significant health problems emphasized during the 2007 gathering is the psychological impact of violent acts. More specifically, issues such as cognitive impairment, depression, anxiety, phobias, and psychosomatic disorders have been documented following instances of child maltreatment and “intimate partner violence.”

Finally, Carnival Against Sexual Violence 28 is up at abyss2hope. And many congrats and kudos to abyss2hope’s Marcella for her recent 24 hour blogathon in support of Stop It Now!, which works to prevent child abuse. Fantastic achievement Marcella, and a worthy cause.

Photo credit: bigeoino, Creative Commons License

Latest issue of the RCMP Gazette now online

mountieThe latest issue of the RCMP’s Gazette (volume 69, issue 2) is online, featuring several stories on crimes against children, both offline and on the internet.

Particular articles that caught my eye include an account of the psychological support given to officers involved in online paedophile investigations at the Surete de Quebec, an article by Martine Powell on questioning child victims and witnesses, and a great article on research gaps in this area from Roberta Sinclair, Ethel Quayle, Merlyn Horton and Tink Palmer. One area where more research is needed is, they argue, in:

our understanding of offenders who employ Internet-based techniques to engage in adult-child sexual exploitation. The following questions should be addressed:

* What are the characteristics of offenders who sexually exploit children solely through the Internet?
* How do Internet offenders differ from contact offenders?
* Do chat sites, bulletin boards and websites that support adult-child sexual interest encourage and legitimize pro-abuse ideologies?
* Do these sites increase the risk of contact offending?

The research in this area is growing, but much of our knowledge is still based on incarcerated sexual offenders. Examining Internet offenders may expose the differences between this group and sexual offenders who do not use the Internet to abuse children.

Also in this issue, articles on cross-border operations against organised crime; digital evidence in the courtroom; mental illness and the role of the police; occupational stressors and ‘noble cause’ corruption; the CSI effect and the Canadian jury; trends in art crime; and resilience at the RCMP. Access it all for free via this link.

Photo credit: miss_rogue, Creative Commons License

Just The Facts About Online Youth Victimization: Researchers Present the Facts and Debunk Myths

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danah boyd from the University of California at Berkeley recently (11 May) posted a video of a 3 May panel discussion on children and the internet. Along with danah, the panel included David Finkelhor, Amanda Lenhart and Michele Ybarra. The panel moderator, Tim Lordan, explains:

Today we have assembled the foremost experts on the issue related to child online victimization or teen victimization in the country. [...] These are [...] the best researchers in the country [researching] how kids and teens go online and whether they’re having problems, whether it be exposed to inappropriate content or exposed to inappropriate contact, whether it be by adults or by their peers.

boyd comments:

I was very pleasantly shocked to find that all of us were completely on the same page and that most of the press coverage of Michele and David’s work has been terrible in representing the implications of their findings. [...] You don’t have to listen to me but i’d strongly encourage you to listen to the other three. They do a fantastic job of presenting solid data that debunks the myths that the press has been propagating for quite some time. For example, David highlights that putting up real information online has no correlation to sexual predation.

You can watch the video and/or read the transcript [pdf] via boyd’s blog or via the Congressional Internet Caucus pages.

Hat tip to BoingBoing.

Photo credit: jko contreras, Creative Commons License

News round-up

A few more items that caught my eye in the last couple of weeks:

CORRUPTION: Find out what the Enron jurors thought about the case on NPR’s Morning Edition (26 May),

INVESTIGATIONS: In an attempt to leverage the public in fighting crime, Boston City police are to send residents electronic crime alerts (Boston Globe, 2 June) when crimes occur in their neighborhoods:

The system, run by the Boston police and the Internet company CitizenObserver.com, is meant to disseminate crucial information about crimes — including times, locations, descriptions of suspects, and photographs — into the hands of those most affected and those in the best position to help police find suspects.

INVESTIGATIONS: Teens’ online postings are new tool for police, says the Boston Globe (15 May):

MySpace and its cousins, Xanga and Facebook, have, in little more than two years, attracted more than 100 million users, most of them young people creating their own pages to show off to friends. Law enforcement officials, however, have another use for them: They are fast becoming a crucial source of evidence in crimes involving young people ranging from pornography to drugs to terrorist threats.

JUVENILE OFFENDING/AGGRESSION (1): A thoughtful article in Science News (27 May; Vol. 169, No. 21, p.328) discusses how violent and aggressive behaviour develops, touching on psychology, neuroscience and genetics.

JUVENILE OFFENDING/AGGRESSION (2): An article from the New York Times (28 May) on helping children with antisocial behaviour:

Stark County in Ohio is trying something different. Towell was part of a team using an innovative antiviolence program called multisystemic therapy, or MST. Developed over the last 30 years by Scott Henggeler, a clinical psychologist and a professor of psychiatry at the Medical University of South Carolina, it is based on the assumptions that families should remain together and that all of the causes of antisocial behavior should be attacked at once. Taking his cues from family therapy as well as from social ecology, which emphasizes that behavior is shaped by multiple aspects of the environment, Henggeler studies the ecosystem composed by family, neighborhood, schools, peer groups and the broader community. Instead of removing children from that ecosystem, he tries to change it: solve the drug problems and the legal problems, get kids away from delinquent peers and encourage academic success.

PRISON: The UK prison service is fatally flawed, according to Lord Chief Justice Phillips, reported in
The Guardian (30 May).

The most senior judge in the country makes wide criticisms of the criminal justice system today and warns prison overcrowding is proving “absolutely fatal” for efforts to tackle the treatment of inmates. […] In a broad-ranging interview for the Guardian, his first on penal matters, Lord Phillips warns that judges should not send people to prison unless they really have to and that the “sensible place for rehabilitation is in the community”.

CYBERCRIME: U.S. Secret Service establishes electronic crime task force, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (24 May):

The U.S. Secret Service is expanding its relationship with local universities and financial institutions to prevent and combat electronic crimes. The Secret Service’s local field office already had created a network with Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Pittsburgh and Duquesne University and local financial institutions to try to prevent hackers from stealing information and money. Yesterday the service announced it was establishing Electronic Crime Task Forces in nine cities, Pittsburgh included, to create public-private partnerships aimed at fighting high-tech computer-based crimes.

TERRORISM: Finally, remember the launch of a new terrorism research consortium last week? Always a good idea to check if people want to be in your gang before you announce that you’ve launched it, suggests the Scripps-Howard News Service (1 June):

Penn State officials last week announced they would partner with the University of New Mexico and several other schools to create the International Center for the Study of Terrorism. One problem: They forgot to tell UNM. […] “I think it’s like announcing you’re going to get married and your partner never hearing about that before,” Hagengruber said. “We were surprised. We’re not offended. There’s a misunderstanding in the way it came across.”

News round-up, week ending 14 May 2006

Here’s a skip through the other news items that caught my eye over the last ten days or so.

POLICING: The LAPD Chief William J. Bratton has launched the LAPD blog.  Bratton explains, in his welcoming message, that the blog is:

[...] an interactive tool that we use to deliver real-time, unfiltered information.  [...] By using this Blog, the LAPD hopes to maintain an open dialogue with the communites we serve and those who have an interest in the men and women of this organization.

MURDERS BY CHILDREN: Via iqte.st blog, a report in Pretoria News (12 May) highlighting the work of Rhodes University investigative psychology lecturer Mike Earl-Taylor, an expert researcher in murders committed by children, who argues that “children who kill are not born violent, but are created by their family lives and social circumstances”.

He argues that “somewhere along the line” most children who kill are themselves subject to violence and are likely to become habitual criminals if not given adequate psychological therapy.

“I would almost guarantee that if you interviewed all the prisoners in any prison’s maximum security area, you would not find one who came from a structured, loving and supportive family background. Boys who have been abused are particularly likely to act out their trauma through violence, while girls turn it inward and may practice self-mutilation, or develop eating or sleep disorders.”

The article goes on to discuss Earl-Taylor’s claim that “children become socialised into violent behaviour in four stages”.

INVESTIGATIONS / FORENSIC SCIENCE: Houston Chronicle (12 May) reports on allegations that “Houston crime lab analysts skewed reports to fit police theories ignoring results that conflicted with police expectations because of a lack of confidence in their own skills or a conscious effort to secure convictions”, according to an independent report by Michael Bromwich, a former U.S. Justice Department official hired to investigate the troubled crime lab.

FEMALE GANGS: In Boston, Police Commissioner Kathleen M. O’Toole has ordered a focus on violent female groups, according to the Boston Herald (12 May).

Police Commissioner Kathleen M. O’Toole said the rise in violent crimes committed by teenage girls who associate or travel in loosely organized groups has prompted her to ask for more female cops in the Youth Violence Strike Force. “We tend to go focus our attention on male gangs. That focus is changing,” O’Toole said [...]  The move to address the problem comes as teen girls were involved in at least four incidents of armed violence this weekend, according to BPD incident reports.

AGGRESSION (1): Handling a gun stirs a hormonal reaction in men that primes them for aggression, reports the New York Times (9 May), picking up on new research by Tim Kasser, Francis McAndrew and Jennifer Klinesmith.  The study is due to appear in Psychological Science.

AGGRESSION (2): An entertaining explanation and critique of the heat hypothesis in the ever-interesting Damn Interesting Blog (11 May):

In the U.S., violent crime rates are consistently higher in the South than in any other part of the country. It’s just a fact. When one tries to figure out why this might be occurring, a few thoughts come to mind. Perhaps the South has a more violent culture and enjoy their guns more. Maybe the South has better reason to be vigilant. Or they could just still be bitter after the US Civil War.

There is one school of thought that does not buy any of these explanations. Instead, it points towards a much simpler idea – the South is warmer than the rest of the country. Could it be that hot weather can lead people to anger easily, become violent quickly, and more readily kill each other? Supporters of the heat hypothesis think so. The heat hypothesis is a simple yet powerful idea: the more uncomfortably hot the temperature, the more likely people become aggressive.

CYBERCRIME: Fortune Magazine (12 May) is amazed to find that “the people who want to rip you off are very polite with each other when they’re buying and selling credit card numbers”.  David Kirkpatrick writes:

[...C]ommerce, at sites like eBay, is based largely on trust. But until recently I didn’t realize that these same principles govern online dealmaking among criminals.

My naiveté was alleviated with an eye-popping tour of underground Web sites [...] frequented by people who steal and trade credit card numbers and then use them to steal money. This infrastructure for online crime is far more multi-layered and sophisticated than I ever imagined.

Says Marc Gaffan, a marketer at RSA: “There’s an organized industry out there with defined roles and specialties. There are means of communications, rules of engagement, and even ethics. It’s a whole value chain of facilitating fraud, and only the last steps of the chain are actually dedicated to translating activity into money.”

SEXUAL ASSAULT: A University of Illinois at Chicago press release (11 May) highlights research that indicates that over 60% of sexual assaults are drug facilitated.

An estimated 100,000 sexual assaults are committed in the United States each year, and the FBI says that number could be three times higher if all cases were reported, said Adam Negrusz, associate professor of forensic sciences in the UIC College of Pharmacy. [...] Adam Negrusz and colleagues report their findings in “Estimate of the Incidence of Drug-Facilitated Sexual Assault in the U.S.”

The study was funded by the National Institute of Justice, and can be accessed here (pdf).

New articles of forensic relevance in non-forensic psych journals

Sorry about the length – these have been building up a bit, but below the fold, articles on child abuse, intimate partner violence, juvenile victims and offenders, offender treatment and rehabilitation, terrorism, aggression and violence, rape, psychopathy, stalking and Tourette’s.
Continue reading

News round-up for week ending 23 April

In no particular order, here are the snippets of news that caught my eye this week:

PRISONS: Does Eating Salmon Lower the Murder Rate? asks the New York Times (16 April).

Most prisons are notorious for the quality of their cuisine (pretty poor) and the behavior of their residents (pretty violent). They are therefore ideal locations to test a novel hypothesis: that violent aggression is largely a product of poor nutrition. Toward that end, researchers are studying whether inmates become less violent when put on a diet rich in vitamins and in the fatty acids found in seafood.

JURY SERVICE: Via Language Log (15 Apr), what it’s like to be a juror in the US (TCS Daily 14 Apr). Be sure to check out Roger Shuy’s thoughtful commentary too.

TERRORISM: Australian radio programme “All the the Mind” was a special on the Psychology of Terrorism last week. Well worth a listen, to demolish some stereotypes and hear about Anne Speckhard’s fascinating research. Download as MP3 here. (Mindhacks also has a post on the broadcast with a few extra links.)

CYBERSTALKING: The New York Times reports on cyberstalking (17 Apr), although it acknowledges that no one really knows how prevalent it is. For the psychological view, the NYT turned to J Reid Meloy,

[...] a forensic psychologist and the author of several books on criminal personalities, who said that the universe of cyberstalkers runs the gamut, from “jokesters and pranksters to people who have clear criminal intent.” He called this particular brand of harassment — in which the perpetrator deploys third parties, wittingly or not, to haunt the victim — “stalking by proxy.” [...]“It’s a much more veiled, shielded, disinhibited way of communicating,” Mr. Meloy said, “and much more raw in the expression of aggression.”

  • Link to infuriatingly designed website for Meloy.

CHILD PROTECTION: The Guardian interview on 19 April is with Jim Gamble, the director of the new Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre. He talks about how he plans to expose sexual predators who are a threat to children and educate young people about the dangers of the net.

VIGILANTES: Killings rekindle vigilante debate, according to the Portland Press Herald (19 April):

The shooting deaths of two men listed on Maine’s online sex offender registry have rekindled debate over the value of such information and the pitfalls that can accompany it.

EYEWITNESSES: The New York Times (19 April) reports on a study of the effectiveness of new lineup procedures.

In the new method, the police show witnesses one person at a time, instead of several at once, and the lineup is overseen by someone not connected to the case, to avoid anything that could steer the witness to the suspect the police believe is guilty.

However, the new study,

[...] the first to do a real-life comparison of the old and new methods, found that the new lineups made witnesses less likely to choose anyone. When they did pick a suspect, they were more likely to choose an innocent person. Witnesses in traditional lineups, by contrast, were more likely to identify a suspect and less likely to choose a face put in the lineup as filler.

EMOTION AND LEGAL DECISION MAKING: Via Neuroethics and Law Blog (23 April), a new paper posted to SSRN (where it is available as a free download).

VICTIMS OF CRIME: A new report from the Institute of Public Policy Research indicates that the poor suffer most from violent crime (Guardian, 18 April):

The poor and the unemployed are twice as likely to become victims of violent crime and nearly three times more likely to suffer emotional damage as a result of being attacked, according to research published today.