Category Archives: Corruption

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

News round-up 19 August

Some of the items in the news that caught my eye over the last week or two:

PRISONS: The Observer (13 Aug), in Jail doesn’t work, say crime victims, highlights a new study from Smart Justice that suggests that:

The vast majority of crime victims do not believe that prison reduces levels of offending […]. The surprising findings of the first survey of those whose lives have been affected by crime suggest the public is losing faith in the penal system.

BEHAVIOURAL PROFILING: The New York Times (16 August) provides more on behavioural profiling at airports :

[…] after the reported liquid bomb plot in Britain, agency officials say they want to have hundreds of behavior detection officers trained by the end of next year and deployed at most of the nation’s biggest airports. “The observation of human behavior is probably the hardest thing to defeat,” said Waverly Cousin, a former police officer and checkpoint screener who is now the supervisor of the behavior detection unit at Dulles. “You just don’t know what I am going to see.”

Even in its infancy, the program has elicited some protests. […] concerns were raised this week by two of the foremost proponents of the techniques, a former Israeli security official and a behavioral psychologist who developed the system of observing involuntarily muscular reactions to gauge a person’s state of mind. They said in interviews that the agency’s approach puts too little emphasis on the follow-up interview and relies on a behavior-scoring system that is not necessarily applicable to airports.

DATING VIOLENCE: A Wake Forest University press release dated 10 August reports on a new study on dating violence by adolescents who have been watching wrestling on TV:

The frequency of adolescents viewing wrestling on TV was positively associated with date fighting and other violent behaviors, according to a study, published by researchers at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in the August issue of Pediatrics. […] Adolescents who watch wrestling on TV are exposed to a high frequency of violence between men and women, alcohol use and hearing women referred to in derogatory terms such as “bitch,” according to the study. In addition, the scenarios played out in the TV dramas often present violence as a solution to a problem.

MENTAL HEALTH: Hat tip to Psych Central (10 Aug) for a link to a piece on the BBC website on severe mental illness and criminal behaviour

UK experts studied 13 years of data from Sweden, where population data on mental health and crime is kept. It was found 18% of murders and attempted murders were committed by people with a mental illness. […] Dr Seena Fazel, the forensic psychiatrist who led the research, said: “The figure of one in 20 is probably lower than most people would imagine. […] In many ways the most interesting aspect of our findings is that 19 out of 20 people committing violent crimes do so without having any severe mental health problems.”

CRIMINAL BEHAVIOUR: Maori slam ‘warrior’ gene study (ABC News, Australia, 9 August):

A New Zealand scientist says the country’s indigenous Maori people have a ‘warrior’ gene which makes them more prone to violent and criminal behaviour. Dr Rod Lea revealed his theory […] at the 11th International Congress of Human Genetics in Brisbane, Australia, acknowledging that it is controversial to suggest an ethnic group is predisposed towards criminal behaviour. Maori leaders immediately panned his claims. Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia told The Press newspaper that while she had heard of Maori having a genetic predisposition towards alcoholism, it was a big leap to include violent tendencies.

POLICING: The Philadephia Inquirer (13 August) published a review of sexual misconduct by police officers:

Hundreds of police officers across the country have turned from protectors to predators, using the power of their badge to extort sex, an Inquirer review shows. Many of those cases fit a chilling pattern: Once abusers cross the line, they attack again and again before they are caught. Often, departments miss warning signs about the behavior.

[…] Sex abuse by police has received little of the attention or urgency given police brutality or shootings. A handful of studies suggest the magnitude of the problem. In one of the earliest, Roger L. Goldman and Steven Puro of St. Louis University examined Florida cases from the 1970s and 1980s in which officers lost their law-enforcement certifications. […] A 2003 analysis found that sexual misconduct was the leading reason that officers lost their badges in Utah. […] Another study – called “Driving While Female” because so many cases begin with traffic stops – argues that the problem “parallels the national problem of racial profiling.” […] Criminologist Timothy Maher, who has surveyed chiefs and rank-and-file officers about sexual abuse, said the profession recognizes the issue but has not done much about it.

ROBBERY / JUVENILE CRIME: The Enquirer (Cinncinnati, 15 Aug), reports on a growing trend towards the involvement of teens in aggravated robbery and muses on the involvement of women in such crimes:

Last week, the FBI sent a memo to state bank robbery coordinators saying the agency is seeing an emerging trend in the number of juvenile bank robbery suspects. The trend is consistent with overall crime, the memo said. […] “We’re seeing women really taking a more aggressive role in bank robberies than in years past,” [FBI bank robbery coordinator] Trombitas said. “Women are more involved in violent crimes and bank robbery goes hand in hand with that.”

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.”

Police corruption: The Rise and Fall of a Once-Good Cop

LA Times, October 24, 2004
The Rise and Fall of a Once-Good Cop : Lofty goals and ‘stellar service’ to the LAPD gave way to confessed corruption.

Today, Ruben Palomares sits in federal prison, the admitted mastermind of a violent band of allegedly rogue officers and others who committed a string of armed robberies across Southern California staged to look like law enforcement raids. […] Court files containing a psychological evaluation of Palomares and interviews with friends, family and co-workers offer revealing details about his journey from idealistic officer to corrupt cop. The documents portray a man who began his career as a wide-eyed recruit, wanting nothing more than to fulfill the LAPD’s motto of “to protect and to serve,” one psychologist wrote in a court evaluation. Ultimately, he “threw in the towel and gave in to being the type of bad person he had so long fought against becoming.” http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-palomares24oct24,1,7687395.story?coll=la-home-local Free registration required