Thursday, June 30, 2005

Criminology Blog Page Changed

Criminology Blog page is shifted to Click here to visit Criminology Blogs

Monday, September 20, 2004

Home Can be a Killer

AUSTRALIA: Northern Territory News: ALMOST half of the homicide victims in the Territory are killed by their partners. NT Police's Major Organised Crime Detective Superintendent Colleen Gwynne said 17 people were killed in homicides in the NT in the 2002-2003 financial year. Seven, or 41 per cent, of the homicide victims were in an intimate or domestic relationship with their killers.
A further six (35 per cent) were related to each other and four (24 per cent) were friends of or unknown to their killers. The figures mirror the national experience where, on average, 129 family homicides occur each year. Of those, 77 were related to domestic disputes, records at the Australian Institute of Criminology show.
Det Supt Gwynne said 88 per cent of homicide offenders were male and 41 per cent of victims were male. She said while there had been a 48 per cent drop in the number of homicides between 2002-2003 and the last financial year, she was confident the same percentage was domestic violence related.
``Our rate of homicide victimisation has been consistently greater than the national average,'' Det Supt Gwynne said. ``You'd have to say that really 50 per cent of these homicides (in 2002-2003) were domestic violence related and that's substantial.
``Domestic violence is an extremely important issue because ... quite often a domestic incident can lead to death.'' Det Supt Gwynne said police regarded domestic violence as a major crime.
``That is a message to the community that we feel domestic violence investigations are extremely important and deserve police resources.''
Det Supt Gwynne said being sent to a crime scene where a homicide has been related to domestic violence was frustrating for police. ``When we are sent to do an investigation of a domestic violence incident you think `we could've prevented this','' she said.
She urged Territorians to help report domestic violence.
``Don't turn a blind eye to this when you know it is happening,'' she said. Police dealt with 2668 reports of domestic violence in the 2002-2003 financial year. Of those, 445 were in Darwin, 1162 in Casuarina, 715 in Palmerston, 162 at Alice Springs and 184 elsewhere.
This report appears on

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Criminology Student Arrested for Robbery-Extortion.

Philippines: A Masteral student in Criminology was arrested in a police entrapment operation after he allegedly threatened to kill the whole family of a local businesswoman if he was not paid an amount of P1.5-million in exchange for their lives.
This reportedly resulted after the suspect allegedly broke into the house of the family and robbed them of about P245,000 in assorted jewelry, cameras, wristwatches and a complete computer unit about two weeks earlier.
Supt. Ernesto Gaab, officer-in-charge of the Baguio City Police Office (BCPO), identified the suspect in the two cases as Carlito Naces Ganagana Jr., 27, married, a Masters in Criminology student in a local university, who resides at 132 Poblacion, Botogue Laoac, Pangasinan.
Although the suspect claimed to be a resident of Balsigan, police found out later that he does not really go home there.
His reported victim in both incidents was only named as Deborah Cainto, a resident of Ferguson Road. (Hmm..was he trying to give criminology a bad name.)
Initial investigation of the robbery case disclosed that Ganagana allegedly entered the house of Cainto at around 3p.m. of August 25 and carted away assorted pieces of jewelry, a computer central processing unit with monitor and keyboard, one Olympus camera, a Canon A-1 camera with accessories, a General Electric speakerphone, and a number of wristwatches with Omega, Fendi, Seiko, Swatch and other brands. These all reportedly amount to approximately P245,000.
"On September 8, the victim received a threatening texted message on her cellular telephone saying that physical harm will come to her family unless she will cough up P1-million in exchange for their security," Gaab said.
"However, when Mrs. Cainto refused to give in to the demand, a follow-up call from the same texter was received and the demand was raised to P1.5-million. She lost no time and reported her predicament to our office."
Two police officers were detailed to the victim's family for security assistance even as BCPO personnel also formulated a plan to conduct an entrapment operation if and when a pay-off would be made.
After a series of negotiations were made the next three days between the victim and the extortion-robbery suspect, who was still unidentified at that time, they finally agreed to schedule the delivery of the bargained amount of P850,000 inside one of the numerous bus terminals along Gov. Pack Road on September 11.
At around 10 p.m. of that day, an undercover policewoman of the BCPO Women & Children Concerns Section dropped off the package of marked 'boodle' money inside a garbage bin situated inside the Amianan Bus terminal, where plainclothes operatives of the BCPO Intelligence and Investigation Branch and BCPO Station 3 strategically posted themselves earlier.
As agreed, the suspect showed up and took the marked money from inside the said garbage bin, signaling the posted police operatives to swoop down and arrest him.
After Ganagana's arrest, the marked money and a Nokia 3315 cellphone, which was used in the three-day negotiation was recovered from his possession.
Ganagana was detained later at the Baguio City Jail on charges of alleged robbery with intimidation and robbery-extortion.
By Ernie N. Olson Jr.(From Sun Star Network Online - Philippines)

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Do's and Don'ts of Forensic Computer Investigations

John Colbert's Forensics Guidelines for IT Staff
The IT professional should consider these seven guidelines when requested to conduct a computer investigation or legal discovery request:
1. Ask questions: Inquire as to the nature of the request. The more you know about the investigation, the more effective your fact-finding will be. Ensure that you are fully aware of the intentions of management: What decisions will management need to make based upon your findings? What are the confidentiality concerns? What are the time concerns, and how should time constraints be balanced against the thoroughness of the investigations? How do they want you to report your findings?
2. Document thoroughly: No matter how simple the request from management, write it down—even if you're not sure if you will perform that aspect of work. Recognize that when working for legal counsel, the communications and findings to counsel are usually protected under the attorney-client privilege, which includes your notes and e-mail. However, this privilege may be lost if your chain of command or communication strays from legal counsel.
Click here for a list of links to information on U.S. law-enforcement technology.
3. Operate in good faith: Generally, you should follow instructions from management in the course of an investigation. However, it is possible that some investigative actions could be illegal. For instance, reverse hacking or "hack back" tactics could be a violation of law. Seizing or copying the computer of a non-employee third party could also be illegal. It is important to raise such concerns with management should they arise.
4. Don't get in over your head: Investigations are sexy, challenging and fun, but the environment that surrounds them can quickly become unfamiliar and outside your area of expertise. If any of the following conditions are true—or become true during an ongoing investigation—the organization will need to make a crucial determination as to whether to retain a professional computer forensic investigator or contact law enforcement:
The investigation involves a crime. Fraud, theft, hacking, threats, certain types of harassment. It is acceptable—and often good practice—for an organization to be the first responder, but when the commission of a crime is readily apparent, it is advisable to contact law enforcement. The investigation will likely result in serious discipline or termination of an employee. It is often advisable to have an outside consultant to provide court testimony or prepare critical investigation reports to be relied upon by senior management or outside auditors. The investigation requires that documents are prepared for court or a government investigative body. A legal discovery request may be required for civil lawsuits or during events such as mergers and acquisitions. This also includes requests for information from the Securities Exchange Commission for public companies. Large-scale investigations—investigations that cross many different boundaries, and people—should be conducted by experienced investigators.5. Make the decision to investigate: Before moving any further forward, you should consider that an investigation of an employee should involve your HR department. They are experts on employee law and can be very helpful. Rest assured they would be very interested. If you are now comfortable that you can go forward in good faith, then do so. Here are a few situations that you may encounter:
Worms, viruses and hacks. These problems are usually detected by employees and IT personnel. Unauthorized use of applications, software or Internet. These policy infractions are normally associated with minor discipline, though, in some circumstances they can result in termination. Be sure to evaluate the discipline level before going forward. Unauthorized use of e-mail. These investigations normally originate from a complaint. Be sure to analyze the intent of HR and/or management regarding discipline and remember the points made above.6. Treat everything as confidential: Regardless of who knows—or the rumors that surface—keep all information confidential and only disclose the information to those who need to know.
7. File it: Keep your documentation and file it. It's a good idea to have the information maintained by HR or legal, but be sure to file it in an organized manner regardless.
Those are the seven guidelines created by Colbert to help IT managers and staffs stay out of trouble when asked to conduct in investigation.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Post Mortem Drug Tests 'Flawed'

Experts have raised concerns that flawed analysis of drug levels in corpses could affect the outcomes of court cases and inquests. The international team writing in the British Medical Journal says this leads to confusion and conspiracy theories.
They cite the death of weapons expert David Kelly as a high profile case where differences of opinion have been expressed over drug results.
However, they say there is no dispute over Mr Kelly's cause of death.
The comments of the experts from the International Toxicology Advisory Group show renewed concern over how such results are interpreted in countries around the world. In March, US and UK experts warned the level of drugs in the blood can increase by 15-fold when someone dies because the toxins are released into the bloodstream.
In the BMJ editorial, the forensic medicine experts warn problems can arise because, unlike in cases involving living patients, toxicology tests after death can virtually never be informed by information about how drugs were administered and number of doses taken.
In addition, if a person has been a chronic drug user, and has developed a 'tolerance', it can be factored into toxicology measurements for living patients but cannot be measured in dead bodies.
But the experts warn that, despite these concerns, in some cases conclusions continue to be drawn based on comparisons with living subjects, or by looking at measurements alone, without examining the case as a whole.
They warn such specific measurements are not an accurate guide because factors in individual cases can affect how they should be interpreted.
Derrick Pounder, Professor of Forensic Medicine at Dundee University. one of the authors of the editorial, said: "This is a chronic problem in forensic medicine.
"We know full well that the results of the analysis of drug tests are very difficult to interpret. The drug level in itself is no use. It has to be interpreted in the context of the case."
But he said: "Some individuals still persist in interpreting these results in a very rigid way."
Court evidence
The experts also warn that blood drug concentration levels can vary significantly in dead bodies depending on where the sample is collected from.
Professor Robert Forrest of the University of Sheffield, who is also part of the group which wrote the editorial, said: "For example, a lot of antidepressants, such as amytripiline, are bound to lung tissue.
"So if an old lady was found dead and a sample of heart blood was analysed, the drug concentration level might be 3.5 milligrams per litre. The interpretation of that would be that she'd taken an overdose.
"But if the sample was taken from the femoral vein in her groin, it might have a concentration of 0.35 milligrams per litre, which is entirely consistent with normal therapeutic use."
He and his colleagues warn that, if drug levels at the time of death are impossible to determine, pathologists cannot make judgements on the amount of drugs taken into the body before death.
However these projections are often produced in court as evidence.
Professor John Foster, chairman of the Royal College of Pathology's toxicology science advisory committee, said: "The science underpinning the extrapolation of results is not there.
"Most professionals would acknowledge the problem. But they can perhaps be pushed by the legal profession to go a little bit further than they should be going."
He added: "The underlying message in the article is a call for more honesty in describing the limitations inherent in the science as it exists today .
"These limitations demand a more rigorous approach to extrapolating data obtained from dead bodies until the effect that the death process has on drug concentrations can be better characterised and defined."
(Story from BBC NEWS)

Thursday, September 16, 2004

E-crime: Call for a United Front

Shane McKenzie is looking online for stories of e-crime. Photo: Rodger Cummins Cyber criminals could be slipping through the fingers of investigators due to a lack of co-operation between police and corporate cyber sleuths, warns an e-crime researcher. Quick police access to privately owned infrastructure in order to chase online felons is just one issue still to be resolved, says Shane McKenzie. A University of Melbourne criminology lecturer, McKenzie is writing his PhD on e-crime investigative partnerships between the private sector and law enforcement. "A lack of co-operation between the sectors can actually mean loss of evidence or a dead-end for your investigation," he says. "The private sector and law enforcement are both saying, 'we have to work together in partnership', but what does that mean and what are the implications of that? "Do we need new laws to deal with how these investigators work together? Do we need changes in laws so that companies are able to collect data in the off-chance of a crime occurring in the future - these are some of the issues I'm examining." McKenzie has been preparing his research for two years, working closely with Victoria Police's major fraud investigation division and computer crime squad. He is also a lecturer in the new graduate certificate in e-crime investigation, taught jointly by Melbourne University Private and Victoria Police. Stereotypes - for example, that private-sector investigators only worry about the bottom line and corporate image - are breaking down, McKenzie says, as are those that police are just out to "catch the crooks" and don't care about company reputations or shareholders' interests. McKenzie is conducting an anonymous online survey looking at the impact and extent of e-crime - from identity, credit card and online auction fraud to virus infections and online sex offenders. "The problem is out there but you don't know the scope and the size of it and how many people it's actually affecting or what's the actual cost to them," McKenzie says. "I'm interested in having responses from the whole range of the community, all industry sectors and all levels of an organisation, not just senior management of the big corporations. "Ideally, every investigator in Victoria will put their hand up and say, 'I have a story to tell about how I work, day to day'." Visit the research site of Shane McKenzie

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Crime is down, but why? (Guest Editorial of The Desert Dispatch)

The National Crime Victimization Survey released Sunday shows that both property crimes and violent crimes other than homicide were again at a 30-year low in 2003. That is good news for all.
What is frustrating is that while plenty of people have theories about why crime rates go up or down, most of the theories are full of exceptions and the links between cause and effect vary in directness and intensity.
The lesson for citizens is that most of those attempting to take credit for reduced crime rates had little or nothing to do with it. And those who claim to hold the key to reducing crime further are probably talking through their hats.
Gilbert Geis, professor emeritus in criminology, law and society at UC Irvine, said the Victimization Survey, done by the Department of Justice, is generally more reliable than the FBI crime survey, because it is based on interviews and relatively uniform criteria, and so captures crimes that are not reported to the police.
The best general indicator is homicide (which has declined nationally since 1993 as well), because most dead bodies come to the attention of the police and can be counted fairly accurately.
As to why crime has declined steadily since 1993, most criminologists are more in the dark than they like to let on.
There's the demographic theory, that most crimes are committed by young men aged 18-24 and the tendency to commit crime declines as people get older. But the percentage of people in that age group hasn't declined dramatically over the past 120 years.
There's the economic theory, that crime declines when the economy improves. But the U.S. has had a stock market bubble burst and a mild recession in the last few years, and the crime rate has continued to decline. Professor Geis told us that in some cases, increased unemployment actually means closer supervision for young people who might be crime-prone, because a parent is at home. But he acknowledges that the data are not conclusive.
There's virtually no evidence that tougher gun-control laws reduce crime (and some evidence the other way). And, in fact, we haven't seen progressively tougher gun control laws over the last 10 years; the two sides have been more or less at a stalemate.
That leaves stiffer sentencing laws. Mr. Geis believes there is some evidence that tougher sentencing laws do keep some people who would be committing crimes off the streets for extended periods. But it is an expensive way to go and keeps people who wouldn't be committing new crimes locked up as well.
Perhaps we don't have to understand all the whys to be grateful crime has declined.
But even as we encourage experts to keep trying to find the reasons, we should be skeptical of those who claim they have already discovered them.From Desert Dispatch.
The Desert Dispatch is a daily newspaper serving the communities of Barstow, Dagget, Fort Irwin, Hinkley, Lenwood, Newberry Springs and Yermo.