Crime displacement 1/2

We continue on expert interviews: this week´s topic is crime displacement in supply chains, with specific focus on cargo theft in the European Union.

Dr. Daniel Ekwall from Sweden is a well-known researcher in the field of supply chain security, including cargo theft with the many curiosities linked to it. As Daniel has quite a bit to say of crime displacement in supply chains, we have divided the blog into two parts: this part 1 coming out today Sunday, and part to come out on Thursday. This is just a trial to make our longer blog entries, including expert interviews, more reader-friendly.

Hi Daniel, and thanks for agreeing to be interviewed for CBRA´s blog on supply chain security. Before jumping to our main theme of today – crime displacement in global supply chains – can you please explain a little bit about yourself, about your background and research and teaching activities in supply chain security?

I have been working with logistics and supply chain security for over a decade now. First in the role as a PhD student, this topic being offered by my supervisor Prof. Håkan Torstensson at University of Borås, Sweden. More or less half way thru that process, I was hired to DB Schenker’s head office department of Risk Management as an assistant for the corporate safety and security manager. During that time I continued with my research. After that, I was moved to the position as a corporate security manager for DB Schenker. That was very interesting time as I was writing on my PhD thesis at night time and during the days dealing with the practical side of security. This situation provided me not only with a high work load, but more importantly a unique possibility to understand security in transportation and logistics from both a theoretical and a practical business side at the same time. After leaving DB Schenker in 2010, I became a senior lecturer in logistics at University of Borås. I have continued with my research in the area as well as teaching courses in risk and security in both Sweden and Finland, where I became a guest senior lecturer at the Hanken School of Economics. During the fall of 2013, I was appointed as an Associated Professor in Supply chain management, with specialization in supply chain security, at the Turku School of Economics.

Thanks for the intro Daniel. According to Barr and Pease (1990) and Hakim and Rengert (1981), the theory of crime displacement recognizes following six types of displacements: (i) Temporal – change of time when offenders carry out a crime; (ii) Spatial – switch from targets in one location to another; (iii) Target – change of type of target; (iv) Tactical – use of alternative method; (v) Offense – switch from crime to another; and (vi) Offender – a new offender takes a place of arrested or deterred earlier offender. Can you please share first your views on such theories per se?

The theory of crime displacement is a very interesting theory. Before I go into details about potential displacement, it is important to understand that this is a theoretical concept which is based on three assumptions. First, “Crime displacement assumes that crime is inelastic”. This assumption indicates that the demand for crimes is unaffected by preventive efforts. This is of cause not true, but it is also important for this assumption to point out that professional criminals are more inelastic, while opportunistic criminals are more elastic. Secondly, “The perpetrator has mobility”. This assumption indicates that the perpetrator has flexibility relative to time, place, method and the type of crime committed. This is also not really true. Last, “There exists unlimited numbers of alternative targets”. Finally, this is also not true as their always will be limitations as the number of targets is limited in one way or another.

To sum up the assumptions, preventive efforts effect the criminal behaviours more on an opportunistic perpetrator than on professional and the limitations in number of potential targets constrains this even more. The theory of crime displacement is very tempting to refer to when reviewing large data set, were the assumptions are better fulfilled than on a more localized level were a number of potential perpetrators actually have full mobility, while the number of targets is more limited. On the other hand, security professionals normally agree that security efforts lead to crimes moving, altering and changing pattern. We really need to understand that the crime free society will never exist in practice, but we can reduce both the occurrence and also the effects from crimes.

…. the part 2 of this interview will be published on coming Thursday – focusing on practical implications and trends in cargo crime and crime displacement in the EU – stay tuned for more…..!