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Public lecture of John Abbott: Fighting International Organized Crime: from Co-operation to Collaboration and Co-ordination


On February 6, 2003 the British Embassy to Bulgaria and the Center for the Study of Democracy co-organized a lecture delivered by John Abbott, Director General of the UK National Criminal Intelligence Service(NCIS). The event was hosted by the UK Ambassador to Bulgaria Ian Soutar. More than 60 law enforcement experts, representatives of the judiciary, the diplomatic corps, the NGO community and the media were present at the lecture.

In his speech Mr. Abbott pointed some characteristics and negative effects of the international organized crime:

  • it is a big business, that is not confined to a single country but is global;
  • it uses simple rules and learns from its defeats;
  • it is flexible looking for high profits at law risks;
  • it is fluent in using new technologies;
  • it corrupts law enforcement, judiciary and even international organizations;
  • although global, its effects are predominantly local.

On the other hand, fighting organized crime internationally is extremely difficult because law enforcement is not global in structure and it works within a local jurisdiction. Law enforcements agencies around the world lack common standards and approaches towards the international organized crime and they are vulnerable to corruption. A duplication of activities of different responsible institutions is also a common problem because they often do not exchange information.
In John Abbott's opinion the co-operation between different countries now tends to focus on individual operations while the criminal groups are collaborating and if the international community failed to respond adequately to the threats the world will not become a safer place.

In the last years many countries joined efforts and tightened cooperation to seek and prosecute international criminals - a good example is the UN International Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, Mr. Abbott added. He also pointed out that the present cooperation between the UK and Bulgaria in combating international organized crime was better than ever before.

During the questions and answers discussion Mr. Abbott pointed out that a common European arrest warrant would make the arrest procedures faster. He also explained that NCIS was responsible for providing strategic assessments which were published on its website thus helping people to build a true picture of the situation. Mr. Abbott stressed on the fact that the geographical location of the Balkan peninsula was very attractive to many criminal groups but that these groups were not more active on the Balkans than in any other corner of the world.


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