Assessing the Effectiveness of Organized Crime Control Strategies: A Review of the Literature


I would like to thank Mr. Damir Kukec of the Research and Statistics Division of the Department of Justice Canada for all his support during the preparation of this review.


Over the past three decades, organized crime (OC) has been the subject of numerous legislative initiatives and scholarly studies around the globe. In Canada, legislation in this area has intensified in recent years in an effort to provide law enforcement with the tools to investigate criminal organizations and to otherwise aid in the fight against OC. Specifically, since 1997, the Canadian Parliament has passed legislation providing for such things as enhanced police powers, the creation of an agency to combat money laundering (Bill C-22), and the creation of a new criminal organization offence (Bill C-95).

In 2001, Bill C-24 was introduced. This Act creates new offences (e.g., commission of an offence for a criminal organization) and broadens the powers of law enforcement to seize property used in crime and, ultimately, to initiate proceedings leading to the forfeiture of the assets of criminal organizations.

At several meetings over the last five years, Federal/Provincial/Territorial Ministers responsible for Justice have reaffirmed the importance of combating OC. They have stressed the need to:

The Ministers also identified a series of national policy priorities, such as drug trafficking, economic crimes, high-tech crimes, money laundering, illegal immigration and trafficking of humans, and corruption.

The overall aim of this report is to support legislative reform and policy development in relation to OC. More specifically, the report will provide new information to the Department of Justice, further inform ongoing research activities, and help support the planned mid-term and summative evaluations of the Measures to Combat Organized Crime initiative. The planned evaluations by the Department are part of a larger coordinated interdepartmental review of the initiative, which includes the Department of the Solicitor General Canada, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and Correctional Services Canada. The results of this project may also be used to inform the public about the issue.

Specifically, the overriding purpose of this project is to review studies that have assessed the effectiveness of OC control strategies. These strategies may be legislative, police, or community-based. The review has sought to be inclusive, covering analyses using a broad range of research methods and data sources. The review includes studies by academics, criminal justice system personnel, government, and law enforcement agencies. While the focus of this review is on studies conducted in Canada, the United States, and other western countries, salient material from other jurisdictions has been included.

The specific issues examined in the review of materials on OC included: