- Investigators of organized crime
- Special investigative techniques and intelligence gathering
- Rights of victims and witnesses in investigations
Published in May 2018
Regional Perspective: Pacific Islands Region - added in November 2019
Regional Perspective: Eastern and Southern Africa - added in April 2020
This module is a resource for lecturers
Special investigative techniques and intelligence gathering
Conventional policing is primarily reactive, meaning that police action generally responds to crimes after they have been committed and reported. Successful investigation of organized crime requires proactive approaches, which are generally based on criminal intelligence analysis (UNODC, 2010). As discussed in Module 5, many crimes committed by organized criminal groups are not reported to authorities, so searches through financial records, and interviews with informants, citizens, and surveillance activities are often required to determine whether a crime has occurred.
The two general features of the proactive approach include the gathering of intelligence, followed by a criminal investigation. Intelligence gathering evaluates information, followed by analysis to support informed decision-making (Peterson, 1994; Innes, Fielding and Cope, 2005). In some jurisdictions, it is up to the law enforcement agencies to carry out intelligence gathering and analysis; in others, there are trained analysts who perform intelligence analysis, often involving financial and business records, individual background checks, reports from police surveillance or use of other special investigative techniques, interviews with informants, and related information. The investigation determines whether the results from the intelligence gathering and analysis can be connected to the criminal conduct of groups or networks.
Organized crime investigations: special training and perseverance
Successful organized crime investigations require more training and perseverance than investigations of conventional crimes. Interviews, informants, searches, surveillance and other special investigative techniques are needed to determine the precise nature and scope of an enterprise so it may be defeated successfully.
Special investigative techniques must balance the competing interests of ensuring public safety through arrest and detention of criminals with the need to ensure the rights of individuals (UNODC, 2013). The following principles are important in this regard:
- Adequate control of implementation of special investigative techniques by judicial authorities, or other independent bodies through prior authorization, supervision during the investigation and/or after the fact review.
- Ensuring proportionality of the special investigative technique used, when compared with the conduct being investigated following the principle that the least invasive method suitable to achieve the objective should be used.
- The need for States to enact laws to permit the production of evidence gained through special investigative techniques in court, while respecting the right to a fair trial.
- The need for operational guidelines and training in the use of special investigative techniques.
The consideration of the above principles is important as it is hardly deniable that the use of special investigative techniques such as controlled delivery, surveillance and undercover operations impact upon an individual's right to privacy. Interference with this right requires a clear legal basis in domestic legislation, and it must be necessary, reasonable, and proportionate. There have been various decisions of international human rights bodies and courts on the permissibility of the use of special investigative techniques such as covert surveillance and the parameters of these measures.
The remainder of this section explains five major special investigative techniques often used in organized crime cases:
- Controlled delivery
- Physical and electronic surveillance
- Undercover operations
- Financial analysis
- Use of informants