Panel – Towards a ‘blue’ criminology: How should we study transnational organised crime at sea?

Scott Edwards presented ‘Blue criminology: towards a trans-disciplinary understanding of crime at sea’ at the 24 Hour Conference on Global Organized Crime. The panel, moderated by SafeSeas co-director Tim Edmunds, also featured Mercedes Rosello (Leeds Beckett University) presenting ‘Towards a ‘blue’ criminology: How should we study transnational organised crime at sea?’, Anna Sergi (University of Essex) presenting ‘The journeys of complex crimes through the port, from the sea and into the city’, and Nigel South (University of Essex) presenting ‘Oyster gatherers and cockle pickers: organised crime and illegal harvesting of seafood ‘.

The Panel can be viewed here: https://oc24.heysummit.com/talks/1b/

Transnational organised crime at sea is a growing international concern. These ‘blue crimes’, including piracy, smuggling, and environmental crimes such as illegal fishing, challenge maritime security law enforcement practitioners and ask new questions of academics and researchers.

By their very nature, such crimes cross boundaries. They implicate different geographical spaces, including both land and sea; they take place across national borders and jurisdictional lines; they challenge existing (often terra-centric) regional constructs; and they evidence important intersections and linkages across and between different criminal activities and networks.

In consequence, the study of blue crime is not easily confined to neat disciplinary silos. It requires insight, work and dialogue across and between multiple relevant disciplines: criminology and green criminology, international relations and security studies, law, development studies, and political geography amongst others. But how can such work take place productively? What pitfalls does it face? And what contribution can it make to the fight against transnational organised crime at sea?

This panel brought together a multi-disciplinary group of experts to consider these questions. In so doing, it outlined the contours of a new blue criminology, considered the scope and promise of such an approach, and reflected on what a blue criminological research agenda might look like going forward.

The 24 Hour Conference on Global Organized Crime is a global 24 hour event organized by the Center for Information and Research on Organized Crime (CIROC), the Standing Group on Organized Crime (ECPR-SGOC), the International Association for the Study of Organized Crime (IASOC), and the Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime (GI-TOC). It featured over 320 speakers on more than 70 panels.

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Posted by Scott Edwards

Dr. Edwards is a research associate at the University of Bristol for the TOCAS project. Scott completed his PhD at the University of Birmingham in 2019, where he analysed the role of trust in security communities under Nicholas Wheeler. He holds an MA from the University of Birmingham in Asia-Pacific International Relations, and has primarily focused on Southeast Asian security issues. He is the lead author of the SafeSeas evidence base and specialists in issues of coordination and inter-agency management.

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