The cost of organised crime to law enforcement and government in Australia and around the world is well canvassed. However, it’s not just authorities that bear this cost, ordinary people are affected by organised crime in a number of ways.
The Australian Crime Commission’s National Organised Crime Response Plan 2015-2018 notes that organised crime is having a financial impact on Australia of at least $15 billion per annum. The total cost is likely to be much higher when under reporting of crimes and the difficulties in estimating exact losses is taken into account.
So how are ordinary Australians affected by serious and organised crime on a daily basis?
The economic factor
Broadly defined as any criminal activity which is pre-planned and arranged by an organisation or syndicate, organised crime can include large-scale violence, standover tactics, manufacture and distribution of narcotics, and significant financial crimes including robberies, scams and theft.
The true cost of organised crime far exceeds actual amounts stolen in robberies or misappropriated through scams, however. The financial cost of serious crime can also be measured in:
- Taxpayer dollars having to be spent on increased law enforcement and (eventually) incarceration of offenders.
- The costs of creating and supporting drug rehabilitation programs and treatment services.
- Additional public health costs associated with treating persons injured through serious assaults or other violence.
- Remedial costs to “undo” the effects of serious crimes, including repairing damaged property or paying compensation for stolen or misappropriated funds.
- Losses suffered by investors and ordinary members of the public when financial crimes such as money laundering affect share prices or impact the banking system.
- Additional costs for ordinary Australians associated with improving internet security or otherwise dealing with the ramifications of online crimes such as the release of ransomware or other malware or identity theft.
Broadly speaking, when organised crime is committed, it can have a financial impact on almost all members of society in one way or another.
Exposure to violence and addiction
The use of methylamphetamine (also referred to as ice when in its crystalline form) has significantly increased in recent years. A study by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre concluded that methylamphetamine users in Australia tripled in the five years to 2016.
The involvement of organised crime has facilitated the manufacture, importation and distribution of ice and other drugs throughout Australia. The potential impact of a drug which is known to cause aggression, violence and almost instantaneous addiction on ordinary Australians is clear.
Along with an increased in potentially violent addicts, organised crime in Australia has historically involved illicit weapons trading and manufacture (despite relatively tight gun laws) and an associated exposure to gun-related violence and crime.
There is potential for ordinary Australians to be affected by any such criminal activities on a personal level, including by being caught as innocent victims.
Impact on daily affairs and business
As technology continues to evolve, it has become an increasingly prevalent feature of organised crime. Enterprising syndicates have adapted readily to improved communication streams and the general anonymity which is available online. This means Australians simply using their computers are potentially exposed to a wider range of cyber crimes than ever before.
Crime syndicates are becoming more proficient in perpetrating identity thefts, phishing scams (where important personal details of internet users are stolen and used illegitimately) and even the release of ransomware, which effectively freezes the contents of a computer system until a ransom amount is paid. The recent global “WannaCry” ransomware attack demonstrates just how far reaching these types of crimes can be.
In this fashion, domestic and international cyber criminals can target ordinary Australian individuals and businesses with minimal effort and maximum impact.
Serious crime syndicates in the modern world have the potential to affect not just the authorities trying to deal with them, but all Australians, whether financially, socially or personally.
Nyman Gibson Miralis provides expert advice and representation in complex cross-border cases involving multiple jurisdictions and investigative agencies.
Contact us if you require assistance.