Marinos Stagakis
(Law Enforcement Expert)
 
Copyright:
www.rieas.gr


The role of information
 
The Law Enforcement Authorities fight to prevent and repress the crime is constant and evolving. In this attempt, information could be considered as a factor of utmost importance.

Nowadays, along with the technological revolution came a saturation of data, posing a negative effect directly on the process of finding the appropriate pieces of information and avoiding the unnecessary ones. This way, in our modern and sensitive society one could be persuaded that collecting information on anything concerning criminal activity would be quite an easy procedure, which, just by taking advantage of the modern means available, would have an excellent outcome. But the threat of “chaotic situations” being caused by the concentration of a limitless volume containing the available data, differing in content and shape, is obvious. Consequently, it is of vital importance to develop a (pre-determined) approach of the information available within a better structured concentration project for the ones already in the hands of Law Enforcement Authorities but also a targeted acquisition of others. By establishing the collection of data as the starting point for a structurally functional, enhanced substantial and operationally effective building of these systems will enable the function within the same frame of the general organization chart of the Law Enforcement Authorities as a whole.
 
An up-to-date security service as the main responsible agency for social control is obliged to keep-up with the modern scientific methodology and technique for the accomplishment of its main mission, the fight against crime. The scientific character of its work is particularly visible in the Crime Investigation sector, whose aim is on the one hand to ascertain that the investigation in progress does concern a crime and on the other, to verify the perpetrator’s identity through collecting the probative evidence necessary, so as to make possible the revelation of the truth and to prove not only the guilt but also the innocence of the individuals being involved.
 
In daily practice, it is getting the receiver of huge amount of data relating to the crime, deriving both from the framework of the preliminary interrogation process which constitutes the basis of the evaluated and utilized usable data and also a constantly growing resource system that goes along with the evolution of technology, the development of police cooperation, the sensitization of the civilians and the pluralism of Mass Media and the internet.
 
This information must –above all- be collected, evaluated, correlated and subsequently reclaimed in the best way, so that the powerless, isolated and worthless original data elements could transform into a powerful operational probation weapon upon the expansion of investigation procedures, the definition of criminal acts/crime scenes and perpetrator’s identity, also verifying whether the individuals involved are guilty or not, thus contributing to crime prevention. The main goal is to guarantee the effectiveness in protecting the civilians of the country strictly within the frame of a State of Justice.
 
Today many attempts are being held by all Law Enforcement Services in order to take advantage of this knowledge domain, by developing new techniques and modern methodologies striving to establish models of Criminal Information Management.
 
These modern models combine the practical operational knowledge and experience of the Law Enforcement bodies with the academic approach-research-substantiation of sciences (academic conveyors-technocrats) and other carriers that show actual and productive activity in the field (research think-tanks and social organizations etc)
 
Despite any problems occurring from time to time, this combination is necessary, since the flexibility and practicality supplied and required in the operational level of everyday police reality co-exist with the technocratic/scientific, thus achieving interpretation of various social behaviors leading to the commitment of crimes, knowledge on the geopolitical and socio-economical environment prime reason for crime generating source, elaboration of scientific evaluations on tendencies and threats related to the evolution of methodology and forms of crime, and also modern technological achievements.
 
From all we have learned from Criminology, the main purpose related to crime investigation, in a broad sense, is the systematic research on the criminal phenomenon, in all of its attributes and also on the procedures follows, from the birth of the crime case to the actual deal of the perpetrator, the victim and every system which either generate or prevent crime. (1) At the same time, the analyzing terms used in the field of Criminology are divided into two; factors (or variables in the quantity method) and motives. Factor is defined as each and every objective element, which is included in the causation of the crime, while motives are defined as the impulse which forces the person to take such an action for a specific reason. (2)
 
In correspondence to the previous, the processing of information with its analysis products, struggles to create the appropriate knowledge for the Law Enforcement Authorities in order to lead future actions of social control having the best possible coherence of criminality phenomenon, the cause of its appearance and the crime-generating factors & motives affecting it. This way, Law Enforcement Authorities will be capable of taking not only repressive but also preventive action. The transforming of common information that emanates from various sources, in exploitable knowledge, is the way to succeed in this attempt.

 In Greece, in spite of the fact that Authorities collect a huge amount of data through a vast information network, during the Law Enforcement procedure (applying penal, economical code etc.), one can easily see a gap in taking advantage of this information due to the lack of structures and mechanisms in order to effectively support them. If it has been for the opposite, there would be a lead and methodology in order for the Authorities to establish future crime policies. 
 
The modern way of crime-confrontation requires deep knowledge of the crime environment in order to take pre-emptive actions. This means that it is mandatory that a large amount of research and studies must be carried out by all the carriers/conveyors having to do with criminality (both public and private), supplying in cooperation with the Law Enforcement Authorities, objective knowledge and complete information on the true picture of law infringement and the true performance of the services in the field that take action and materialize their already applied system, facing their problems and meddling with proposals & solutions, changes/modifications & improvements in their operational models with the flexibility needed in each particular case. The problems mentioned above jeopardize any rational decision-making for the appliance of policies against criminality.
 
In Greece, the existing information network consists of law enforcement bodies-conveyors maintaining their own, separate, independent data bases which focus on their specific field of requirements. Therefore, there cannot be such a thing as a unified concentration and processing of information on criminality environment and the amount of data now laying in the national law enforcement authorities mentioned above remains unexploited.
 
Another significant issue, that often occurs on international grounds as well despite the existence of modern models, is the uneasy exchange and distribution of information breeding from the “sense of ownership” of the service occupying the information, which derives mainly from the competitive nature of the work of the various services in question (especially the ones specializing in different forms of social control)  and the fear of failing due to confusion or unawareness caused when many investigations are being conducted at the same time, rather than the absence of trust, though it is not unlikely to happen to some extent. Suspension or even decrease of any possible consequences comes from the system itself; by producing its own results, in the end it could be characterized as a carefully structured cooperation system, a reference point of all the Law Enforcement Services.
 
 
FROM PLAIN INFORMATION TO INTELLIGENCE
 
Information Management was designed to facilitate the handling and the arrangement of information.
 
Every big organization, in order to fulfill its organizing-operational needs, saves   many distributed files in its archives through a ranking system which should allow the fast browsing and tracking of a specific file when needed. This basic principle is even more important for the Law Enforcement Authorities. Everything from documents to files of any kind must be regained in the fastest time possible and in the most efficient way possible. So, above all, the basic need is both an administrative structure that actually works (re-organization of the service, secure environment, qualified personnel etc) and high-standard material and expertise in technical means and new software, for a unified management system of criminal information. This whole process plays a major role in the attempt to exploit all this information available and set the proper grounds on which it could be utilized.
 
When referring to a unified Information Management System, actually we are talking about the concentration of all the information available on crime in a central reference point, through which the distribution of the processed data or the analysis products will be directed to the appropriate services within the framework of tactics and operational backing-up, meant to support their proper function. The collection of information could only be achieved (and in reality, that is the only target) by initiating/inserting elements into a unified criminal data base with other supplementary bases having direct access to it, for further processing and  analyzing of the data.
 
A commonly accepted modern method of managing criminal information is an endless circular process with a repeated actions system, where, from the start till the end of its function, every step taken is a prerequisite for the next one to come.
 
This is the most commonly practiced structure of steps in intelligence cycle also on a world-wide scale among others, such as:

a)    Programming and directing
b)    Collecting
c)    Processing
d)    Analyzing and
e)    Distributing
 
The term “commonly accepted” describes the efficient practical use of this system extending till this day that moves within the walls of the academic and operational co-existence/collaboration previously mentioned for the approach of the joined cause: the complete utilization of information in order to fight any form of criminal activity.
 
It is applied as a general model by almost all Data Management National Systems and makes the reformation of the administration of these services serving the field an obligation of outmost importance. As a result, we cannot be talking about various models or “schools” since there is no particular difference between the national systems, which are fully adjusted to each country’s needs, operating systems of Law Enforcement and other differences in society and law issues.
 
Today in Greece with new priorities coming up, the formation of a substantial  security environment is now an imperative-and this idea of necessity must be conveyed to all the visitors and civilians of the country, a non-negotiable condition in the country’s pursuit of economical development; it is obligatory that the model in its present form is reformed by reorganizing the law enforcement security services, establishing fresh practices of collaboration and changing the information management system by adjusting applied National information management  systems to the Greek model.
 
The constitution and set-up of a Criminality Information Service within a lawfully consolidated framework and ultimately secure environment should –as a condition for its success- fully reform those elements missing from the picture because of the Greek pathogenic mentality.
 
-   Collaboration between all the law enforcement services of the country
-   Team work and combined actions taken by the service of each conveyor in order to collect and distribute the information
-   Utilization of the operational knowledge – experience/expertise of all members
-   Hiring of better qualified personnel. The choice has to be made in a state of transparency and meritocracy.
-   Ensuring that the services will keep up with new tactics and the changes in methodology.
 
As prototypes reaching the above targets which can be used the models that have already been applied in countries with significant expertise on investigation research and operational efficiency in the field of intelligence. The attempt to adjust all this “wisdom” in today’s Greek reality should take place according to the existing administrative authorities and the proper changes should occur wherever in order to increase the efficiency of the Law Enforcement Service.


Endnotes:

(1) K. Spineli, “Criminology”, (in Greek), 1985.
(2) Iak. Farsedakis, “Elements of Criminology”, (in Greek), 1996, page: 144.

Note: We thank Christina Rekatsina (RIEAS Intern Student) who translated the article from Greek to English language.


 

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