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Obstacles to an integrated, joint forces approach to organized crime enforcement: A Canadian case study

Stephen Schneider (Department of Sociology and Criminology, St Mary's University, Halifax, Canada)
Christine Hurst (School of Criminology, University of Ottawa, Canada)

Policing: An International Journal

ISSN: 1363-951X

Article publication date: 20 August 2008

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Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to explore some of the problems that arise in the execution of a joint force operation (JFO) involving various law enforcement agencies. Particular emphasis is placed on examining factors that impede inter‐agency cooperation and coordination in the context of a JFO targeting serious and major crimes.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper is informed by primary research that assessed the level of satisfaction of enforcement agencies involved in a Canadian‐based multi‐agency task force mandated to combat organized crime. Research for this study entailed a questionnaire survey of, and semi‐structured interviews with, operational and supervisory personnel assigned to the JFO, as well senior management within agencies participating in the JFO.

Findings

The research uncovered significant differences in the level of satisfaction with the execution of the JFO concept between members from the lead (federal) enforcement agency and those of other participating (municipal and provincial) agencies. The majority of survey participants overwhelmingly believe that the integrated, multi‐agency approach is an essential ingredient in the effectiveness of this JFO. However, among respondents from participating agencies there was a high rate of dissatisfaction with intelligence dissemination and sharing by the JFO, communication between the JFO and member agencies, and the contribution the JFO makes to the priorities and outputs of participating agencies in their own jurisdictions.

Practical implications

These problems strike at the very heart of a multi‐agency approach to major crimes enforcement and can be generalized to other jurisdictions and countries. Indeed, impediments to the timely sharing of criminal intelligence continue to constitute one of the most significant obstacles to inter‐agency cooperation and coordination, and, by extension, the optimal enforcement of organized crime and terrorism. The problems addressed in this study should be of concern to any manager of a multi‐agency task force, and similar research is recommended to unearth problems that may undermine inter‐agency cooperation and plague the effectiveness of a JFO.

Originality/value

Despite the increased prevalence and importance of multi‐agency operations in combating major and serious crimes, little research has been conducted into the issues and problems that obstruct inter‐agency cooperation within this context. This paper represents one attempt to fill this void.

Keywords

Citation

Schneider, S. and Hurst, C. (2008), "Obstacles to an integrated, joint forces approach to organized crime enforcement: A Canadian case study", Policing: An International Journal, Vol. 31 No. 3, pp. 359-379. https://doi.org/10.1108/13639510810895759

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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