A focus on organized crime activities and their markets, rather than only on groups, is important to produce an objective basis for setting investigative priorities and prevention strategies. For example, a Europol assessment focused on major crimes of concern that included drug trafficking, organized property crime, migrant smuggling, trafficking in persons, and tax fraud, in addition to illicit waste trafficking, intellectual property crime, sports corruption, trafficking in endangered species, and trafficking in firearms. Corruption, extortion, money laundering, and cybercrime were also included (Europol, 2017).
The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission included in its assessment a discussion of illicit drug trafficking, tobacco, firearms, cybercrime, tax fraud, card fraud, immigration fraud, environmental crime, intellectual property crime, sexual exploitation of children, and human trafficking (Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, 2017). Organized crime assessments in East and West Africa focused on drug trafficking, smuggling of migrants, firearms trafficking, falsified medical products, trafficking in ivory and maritime piracy (UNODC, 2013). This wide array of illegal products and services exploited by organized crime require an objective approach to target interventions effectively.
Risk assessment as an objective approach to set priorities
Considering the need to best utilize limited public resources, it is imperative that attention is targeted at the most significant problems posed by organized crime, which can be calculated on the basis of their threat and harm. Government agencies are not able to address all problems equally given the size of these issues and the tools and resources available, so a risk assessment approach provides an objective way to prioritize effort. When carried out periodically, empirical risk assessments permit the ongoing adjustment of public resources to the areas of greatest need.