3 key takeaways from the Eurocrim Conference 2022 in Malaga

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Jana Dilger | Research Analyst

Date: 7 November 2022

Trilateral’s Research Analysts Jana Dilger and Cleo Farah attended the 22nd Annual Conference of the European Society of Criminology (Eurocrim) in Malaga, Spain, from the 21st to 24th September 2022. As part of HEROES, funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, Jana Dilger presented a poster covering a case study on County Lines drug trafficking and Cuckooing in the UK.  

Having attended numerous exciting panels, we put together three key insights that we took away from the conference – but first, let us tell you a bit more about our case study. 

The main idea of the case study on County Lines and Cuckooing in the UK was to identify  

  1. vulnerabilities that increase a young person’s risk of being groomed and recruited into those gangs; and 
  1. indicators that will help to spot if children and young adults are involved with County Lines. 

Jana conducted a literature review and interviewed 6 professionals as well as frontline responders covering Academia, the Housing Sector/Law, LEAs, and City Councils. Apart from listing crucial vulnerability factors and putting together a list of key indicators, the study also showed that while considered mainly a form of criminal exploitation, County Lines drug trafficking overlaps significantly with human trafficking. Keep your eyes peeled for an upcoming post about the case study to find out more about it.  

But what new insights did we learn at the conference?  

The Eurocrim is organised by The European Society of Criminology (ESC) – a scientific institution founded in 2000 which aims to bring together experts actively engaged in research, teaching and/or practice in the field of Criminology. The conference was filled with insightful panels covering topics such as organised crime, gender, human trafficking, extremism, and more – sharing new data that highlighted emerging and recent trends considering violence against women as well as pointing to gaps in research and victim support and the benefits of applying a gender lens in research. Here are three key takeaways from two and a half days of latest research in Criminology:  

  1. It is important to look at criminality through a gender lens 

According to findings from a questionnaire filled out by offenders as well as in-depth interviews, women are more motivated to commit a crime because of money; men tend to agree more to impulsivity as a motivation; and women agree less to passion as a motivation. The research looking into gender differences in offending has been conducted by Andreia de Castro Rodrigues (William James Center for Research & ISPA), Sofia Knittel (ISPA), Ana Rita Cruz (Hei Lab, Lusófona University, Lisbon), and Olga Cunha (Hei Lab, Lusófona University, Porto). The researchers concluded that women tend to commit crimes to provide for their children or to escape abuse (having had long-lasting experiences of victimisation). Men, on the other hand, tend to resort to crime more frequently due to consumptions or the desire to have a better lifestyle and to improve their “status”. The research stressed the importance of looking at criminality through a gender lens that sheds light to the different circumstances involving female crime, rather than adopting male crime as the norm.  

  1. A multidisciplinary identification system is key for assisting victims who have been trafficked for the purpose of labour exploitation  

A study from Spain by Carolina Villacampa-Estiarte, Claudia Torres-Ferrer, and Xavier Miranda-Ruche from the University of Lleida (Spain) highlighted deficits in the assistance of victims of human trafficking with the purpose of labour exploitation. Unlike the UK, Spain does not have a system to refer potential victims such as the National Referral Mechanism. The researchers found a lack of professional sensibility, specific professional training, and knowledge when it comes to the detection and identification of victims of this type of trafficking; an inadequacy of the police identification system; and the absence of crucial standardised identification process in NGOs. Some NGOs did not have any identification protocol nor indicators to guide them in victim identification. Moreover, victims in Spain lack resources to legal instruments enabling victims to legalise their immigration status and, similarly to the UK, lack economic compensation. As a result, researchers stressed the need for a multidisciplinary identification system in Spain.  

  1. More research is needed to better understand the links between Incels and racism  

Allysa Czerwinsky from the University of Manchester provided an overview of academic literature on Incels – short for involuntary celibate, describing somebody who struggles to find a romantic or sexual partner despite desiring one. The systematic review revealed topics that have not yet been fully explored in literature on Incels such as suicidal ideation, neurodiversity as well as non-English-speaking Incel online forums. While discussions about race, including white supremacy, appear to be common on Incel forums, issues related to race and racism are still under researched. Related to this, Gavin Hart from the Liverpool Hope University, presented findings from research that investigated the complex and toxic relationship between extreme misogyny and discussions of racial hierarchy. He carried out a content analysis on a selection of forum threads as well as specific individual posts. Generally, the analysis pointed to a clear rejection of feminism and an idolisation of a perceived “pre-feminism” era, with men seeing themselves as victims of “female domination”. The analysis highlighted a small pool of explicitly racist narratives that either endorse white supremacy or directly downgrade minority groups based on racial, ethnic, or religious traits. However, members of particular minority groups appear to gain status within the Incel community due to perceived additional barriers in securing relationships with women.  

The next Eurocrim will take place next year in Florence, Italy.  

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