Please see below selected recent crime-related change.
- The global trend of weakening justice systems is reducing accountability for public officials, which allows corruption to thrive. Both authoritarian and democratic leaders are undermining justice. This is increasing impunity for corruption, and even encouraging it by eliminating consequences for criminals. Corrupt acts like bribery and abuse of power are also infiltrating many courts and other justice institutions across the globe. Where corruption is the norm, vulnerable people have restricted access to justice while the rich and powerful capture whole justice systems, at the expense of the common good.
- Money laundering causes US$1.6tn in global losses annually, with more than $7tn in private wealth held in secretive offshore accounts - the equivalent of 10% of global GDP. Countries are left destabilised and in some cases corruption leads to state failure. As Navi Pillay, the former UN high commissioner for human rights, ominously warned in 2013, “corruption kills”.
- The murder of journalists jumped by 50% in 2022, with killings in Ukraine, Mexico, and Haiti accounting for nearly half of the total (35 of 67). Hazards such as war, gang violence, and impunity were largely to blame, forcing some reporters to change their work habits or request protection from authorities.
- Across 15 major US cities, hate crimes - that is, acts of violence that target a specific community - rose more than 20% in 2021 alone, according to the Centre for the Study of Hate and Extremism.
- Further reading:
- Homicides in the US jumped since the pandemic, and those bearing the brunt of it, a Washington Post study showed, were Black communities, which account for more than 80% of murder victims in America’s largest cities.
- Gun-related homicides in the US shot up 35% during the first year of the pandemic, the largest annual increase ever recorded. Experts attributed the surge to higher firearms sales and the economic and psychological disruptions caused by the pandemic. The murder rate for young black men was reportedly more than 20 times as high as it was for white men of the same age.
- The International Red Cross said hackers infiltrated its database, compromising the personal information of 515,000 vulnerable people, including migrants and those displaced by conflicts. The Geneva-based organisation believed the hackers were likely criminals hoping to profit from the data breach.
- Corruption is stagnating worldwide, but according to Transparency International, it's got worse mostly in countries with a poor human rights record, strengthening the link between authoritarianism and graft.
- America experienced a crime wave since the pandemic started. Violent crimes – murder, robberies, assault, and rape – were up 3 percent in 2020, while the national murder rate rose 25% from the previous year. Still, the US national crime rate has dropped significantly since the 1990s. However, 58 percent of Americans surveyed by Ipsos think the situation is worse now than in the early 1990s, when nationwide violence prompted Congress to pass the biggest crime bill in US history, noted GZERO.
- A ransomware attack occurred every 11 seconds in 2021, according to one estimate, including when hackers carried out their biggest attack to date, against Colonial Pipeline, which supplies almost half of the oil and gas consumed in the US Eastern Seaboard.
- In what could be the biggest crypto theft in history, hackers stole more than $600 million worth of cryptocurrency from Poly Network, a platform that connects crypto users.
- A panel of the world’s top environmental lawyers want the International Criminal Court (ICC) to recognise a new crime against humanity. They published their definition of that crime, which they call ecocide. The panel - which was convened by the Stop Ecocide Foundation – wants ecocide to become the fifth crime that the ICC is able to prosecute, alongside genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and unjustified use of military force.
- More than 800 alleged members of an international crime syndicate were arrested in a global sting operation coordinated by Australia, Europol, and the FBI. Law enforcement authorities tracked their plots involving drug smuggling, money laundering and even murder on ANOM, a secret messaging app that the crooks believed was untraceable. The whole operation was a ruse coordinated by the FBI, which had its informants distribute customised devices loaded with the app following an earlier crackdown on similar encrypted messaging services. Indeed, the operation revealed that cooperation among law enforcement agencies on different sides of the globe can be more successful at times than direct coordination between the governments that oversee them, suggested GZERO Media.
- Ransomware attacks and cybercrime in general boomed in COVID times, largely as a result of IT systems that became more vulnerable when companies rushed to adapt them for remote access. Moreover, hackers are now targeting bigger firms for a lot more money thanks to the rise of cryptocurrencies, which make it easier for them to get paid and harder to trace, noted GZERO Media.
- Italy's largest organised crime trial in decades got underway, with 355 members of the Ndrangheta mafia facing charges including murder, drug trafficking, extortion, and money laundering. The group plays a massive role in Europe's cocaine trade, prosecutors say. It took three hours just to read out the names of all the defendants at a hearing.
- Corruption made the pandemic worse. That's the message from Transparency International's corruption perceptions report for 2020, which noted that from inflating the cost of medical supplies to taking bribes to get tests, graft was directly responsible for countless deaths because it diverted funds from the health care needs of populations to the personal needs of corrupt officials, noted GZERO Media.
- Africa loses $89 billion each year due to tax evasion and theft, according to a new report by the UN Conference on Trade and Development. Nearly half of that amount is due to underreported exports of commodities like gold, diamonds, and platinum.
- There are over 250,000 unsolved murder cases in the United States. Thomas Hargrove, cofounder of Murder Accountability Project, wants that number to be as close to zero as possible and developed an algorithm that, through cluster analysis, is capable of finding connections in murder data that human investigators tend to miss. The technology exists, but a considerable roadblock that the project faces is getting support and cooperation from law enforcement offices, reported Big think.
- Meanwhile, crowdsleuthing is the practice of internet users banding together, typically unbidden, in an attempt to solve mysteries and crimes (and occasionally to take justice into their own hands). The core concept isn't particularly novel, finding one of its origins in the anonymous tip lines like Crime Stoppers that gained popularity in the '70s, or the Unsolved Mysteries TV series, which premiered in '87. But with the emergence of social networks and digitised media, public involvement has increased exponentially, and has become more complex and consequential.
- Violence is not confined to the battlefield, the UN secretary-general said in response to reports of a surge in domestic violence as COVID-related lockdowns forced women around the world to stay at home with abusive partners or family members. According to reports, instances of domestic violence have risen in countries including France, Australia, Turkey, and Malaysia as a result of quarantine measures. Meanwhile, in South Africa, authorities said there were 90,000 reports of violence against women in the first week of lockdown alone. Warning of a "horrifying global surge" in domestic violence, the UN appealed to governments to step up efforts to protect women.
- Organisations lose 5%of their revenue to fraud each year, according to a new report from the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. The percentage has remained relatively constant over the years, according to the ACFE’s 2020 Report to the Nations. The biannual report analyses 2,504 cases of real fraud from 125 countries that totalled over $3.6 billion in losses. The typical case of fraud costs $8,300 per month, and the median duration of each fraud case was 14 months.
- El Salvador has one of the highest rates of femicide in the world, with one woman murdered on average every three days in 2019, and 80% those crimes go unpunished. The recent high-profile murder of a Salvadoran journalist by her boyfriend prompted the government to declare femicide a national emergency.
- More than 61,000 people have disappeared as a result of Mexico's deadly drug war, according to new government data. While some of these cases date back to the 1960s, the majority of disappearances have occurred since the 2006 government crackdown on organised crime groups.
- In Brazil, police killings in Rio de Janeiro reached record highs in 2019, with 1,810 people killed by police, an average of 5 per day. Critics blame the surge on the government's hard-line policies to tackle gang violence, including the use of helicopter-borne snipers to target criminals. But supporters point to proof that it's working: the number of homicides in Rio has fallen to its lowest in three decades.
- Further reading:
- Further reading:
- Global executions fell by almost a third in 2018 to the lowest figure in at least a decade, Amnesty International said in its global statistical review of the death penalty.
- In 2018, German authorities recorded 1,800 anti-Semitic crimes nationwide, a 20% annual increase. Almost all of the crimes were reportedly perpetrated by right-wing groups.
- The UK is home to a world-class financial services industry, but also a vast money laundering machine. The City is a key hub in the rampant kleptocracy, financial crime and tax evasion that is afflicting the world. The sums earned fraudulently are so large as to be barely comprehensible - Prospect examined the "ramshackle" system tasked with tracking them down.
- Further reading:
- Since the launch of a campaign against organised crime in January 2018, China has brought more than 10,000 alleged gangsters to trial across the country. The effort aimed, in part, to assuage citizens' growing concerns about gangs' control over large portions of both the formal and informal economies.
- Knife crimes are on the rise across Britain, according to The Econnomist. In the 12 months to March 31st 2018, 285 people were stabbed to death in England and Wales, the highest number since records began in 1946. The number of people aged 18 and under being treated for stab wounds has increased by 66% over the past five years in England. Some, including the head of the Metropolitan Police, link the outbreak in violence to cuts to police funding, which have resulted in the number of officers declining by 16% since 2010.
- In 1997, about 5 percent of crimes in Japan were committed by people over the age of 65. By 2017, the percentage had risen to 20. Why, asked GZEROMedia? Some say Japan’s pension system isn’t generous enough and that the elderly are choosing prison, where they’re guaranteed three meals a day, over poverty. Others add that many older Japanese would rather live within a prison community than isolated and lonely on the outside. Whatever the cause, this may become a problem worth studying in all countries with fast-expanding populations of pensioners.
- Refinitiv’s 2019 financial crime survey revealed that 47% of respondent companies were a victim of at least one financial crime in the last 12 months, resulting in an aggregated $1.45 trillion in lost revenue.
- In Brazil, criminal gangs have posed a serious challenge for the state for many years, and the problem is getting worse. In the state of Ceará, gangs are reportedly paying young people in poor communities to plant bombs and start fires. The latest wave of destruction is now in its third week. It includes attacks on banks, bridges, and other infrastructure. The kids can reportedly earn 1,000 reais ($266) for torching a bus and 5,000 reais ($1,330) for igniting “a fire of great proportions”, reported Quartz.
- The past was a much more violent place, claimed Vox. According to research from criminologist Manuel Eisner, homicide in European countries has been on the decline for centuries. Eisner estimates that in the 1200s and 1300s, Europe had an average homicide rate of about 32 per 100,000. By the 1900s, that rate had fallen to about 1.4 per 100,000.
- Dark Commerce: How a New Illicit Economy Is Threatening Our Future, discussed how new technology, communications and globalisation fuel the growth of dangerous forms of illegal trade and examined how "dark commerce" works to exacerbate many of the world’s destabilising phenomena: the perpetuation of conflicts, the proliferation of arms and environmental degradation and extinction.
- The Economist reported an analysis of preliminary crime data for 2018 released by the Brennan Centre, a think-tank and advocacy group, which showed that overall crime rates as well as murder rates in America had resumed their downward trajectories after slight upticks in 2015 and 2016. Across America’s 30 biggest cities, the crime rate was projected to have fallen by 2.7% from 2017 to 2018, while the murder rate is thought to have fallen by 5.8%.
- Further reading:
- Fraud has existed since time immemorial, noted Raconteur. The first recorded instance was in 300BC, committed by an incompetent Greek seafaring merchant called Hegestratos. He planned to defraud an insurer by sinking his ship, empty of cargo, and selling the corn supposed to be on board. Unfortunately for Hegestratos, his scheme was discovered and he drowned. Fast forward to the 21st century and the capabilities of fraudsters have reached new heights, to the point where they now pose the risk of destabilising global economies and governments.
- Research reported by Raconteur found that occupational or internal fraud is more often than not perpetrated by a man in a position of authority who is out for personal gain through the deliberate misuse of a company’s resources or assets. Exploring the data associated with this type of crime can help organisations understand the patterns to look out for and the common characteristics of a typical offender.
- According to Hackmageddon research into the motivations behind cyberattacks during just one month during 2018, some 81% were driven by cybercrime.
- The UK National Crime Agency reckons the country’s banks and their subsidiaries (including those in overseas territories) launder “many hundreds of billions of pounds” each year. Much of it is ploughed into property: over 40,000 properties in London are held by overseas firms. But few cases are ever brought to trial. Though Britain champions financial transparency, it lacks the enforcement tools needed to clean London’s dirty laundry, warned The Economist.
- Canada became the next of only a handful of countries to legalise recreational marijuana. Monocle analysed how will this might affect the illegal drug traders who remain untouchable to the governments trying to stop them. On a related note, a study claimed that the legalisation of marijuana has led to an estimated drop of 5.6% to 12.5% in violent crimes in US states bordering Mexico, where smuggling was taking place.
- Brazil is one of the most violent countries in the world. An average of nearly 170 people were killed each day in 2017, including a young black man once every 23 minutes, according to GZEROMedia.
- Homicide is the third-leading cause of workplace deaths. Some experts say murder in an attempt to cover up fraudulent activity is more prevalent than we imagine.
- Just four countries - Brazil, Venezuela, Mexico, and Colombia-- account for nearly a quarter of all murders around the world every year. Overall, Latin America accounts for about a third of global homicides despite being home to just 8% of the world’s population.
- The top 10 most corrupt countries in the world were listed in the U.S. News and World Report for 2018. The data was compiled from the 2018 Best Countries rankings, an analysis of 80 countries based on a survey of over 21,000 citizens around the world. The survey gauged how participants perceived the corruption in other countries.
- According to Raconteur, occupational or internal fraud is more often than not perpetrated by a person in a position of authority who is out for personal gain through the deliberate misuse of a company’s resources or assets. Exploring the data associated with this type of crime can help organisations understand the patterns to look out for and the common characteristics of a typical offender,
- Raconteur also warns that the fight against fraud is an ever-evolving arms race. The threat fraudsters pose to businesses, governments and other organisations means those tasked with fighting fraud and preventing the destabilisation of global economies have to stay one step ahead.
- Too often we take for granted and neglect our libraries, parks, markets, schools, playgrounds, gardens and communal spaces, warned the RSA, but decades of research now show that these places can have an extraordinary effect on our personal and collective wellbeing. Why? Because wherever people cross paths and linger, wherever we gather informally, strike up a conversation and get to know one another, relationships blossom and communities emerge – and where communities are strong, people are safer and healthier, crime drops and commerce thrives, and peace, tolerance and stability take root.
- Transparency International rankings found that corruption is rife across much of Africa, the former Soviet Union, Latin America, and Asia – and that Russia and Mexico are the two most corrupt of the world’s large economies.
- Warning that South Africa won’t become less violent until it’s more equal, Quartz argued that inequality is the best predictor of whether a country will experience high or low levels of crime
- Over three days in August, suspected North Korean hackers made off with $13.5 million in an elaborate heist from India’s Cosmos Bank. It’s the latest in a string of attacks against financial institutions by a group suspected of links to Pyongyang, which is hungry for access to hard currency, according to GZEROMedia.
- A 2017 report found that in two-thirds of EU countries firms are too lax in flagging suspicious cash. There have been calls for a centralised authority - i.e. a single clearing house for oversight, information-sharing, and enforcement - to not only assess how banks run and also what they run.
- Setting up anonymous front companies abroad is one of many ways that corrupt officials in usually poor countries can magically make dirty money clean, Oliver Bullough argued in Moneyland, Bullough describes a ‘steal, hide, spend’ kleptocratic model and how it is run by pliant financiers, lawyers, accountants and myriad other enablers in places such as Monaco and Miami.
- Crime committed by people aged over 60-years-of-age has risen by 35% over the past 10 years, according to The Oldie.
- The latest Corruption Perceptions Index highlights that the majority of countries are making little or no progress in ending corruption, while further analysis shows journalists and activists in corrupt countries risking their lives every day in an effort to speak out.
- In 2017, Brazil surpassed its previous record for homicides, reaching an annual total of 63,880 - a % spike from 2016 - according to recently released figures.
- Mexican prosecutors opened 2,599 homicide investigations, or about 84 a day, in the month of July. That’s the highest number of investigations opened during any single month on record.
- Of the 154,557 murders committed in Mexico from 2010 to 2016, 94.8 percent remain unpunished. Compare that figure with 52 percent in Asia and 20 percent in Europe, , noted Signal Media.
- Record homicide levels have sapped some $120 billion from Brazil’s economy since the mid-1990s, according to a 2018 government report. To put that in perspective, that’s almost equal to what the US spent on the Marshall Plan to revive Western Europe after World War Two, noted Signal Media.
- According to CB Insights, since late 2013, a band of cybercriminals has infiltrated the digital security of 100+ banks in 40 nations to steal about $1.2bn. The string of thefts, known as Carbanak, is said to be the biggest digital bank heist in history.
- GZEROMedia noted that multiple studies have shown that immigrants commit crimes at much lower rates than native-born citizens, and some have found that crime rates tend to drop in places where large groups of immigrants are admitted. (Three such studies can be found here, here, and here.)
- Some 95 percent of homicides in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador go unpunished, according to the Atlantic Council. That level of impunity, coupled with some of the highest murder rates in the world, is one of the main factors pushing people to seek refuge in the United States, believes Signal Media.
- Contrary to the media’s narrative, since 1990, the likelihood of an American being a victim of a firearm related homicide has reportedly fallen by over 28%.
- A recent presentation explored how digital criminals will make use of new AI techniques to run amok (and what we might be able to do about it).
- The Harvard Business Review claimed that, in Russia, more than 2.5m officials in politics, the police, taxation, education, and other fields receive a total of up $45m per year in bribes, according to a paper from Volgograd State University. 21% of Russians admit to bribing tax inspectors, 16.2% to bribing police officers and judges, and 13.9% to bribing fire inspectors. The average Russian company pays $135,800 in bribes annually, the paper says.