The recent refugee crisis made smuggling of migrants an appealing illegal market, generating substantial illicit revenues. There are substantial security risks posed by the growth in this illegal activity, including the smuggling of high-risk individuals, increases in the number of vulnerable migrants that can further be exploited by criminals and strengthening of organised criminal groups through the generation of illegal profit which can be used to fund further crimes. There are already indications that OCGs operating in other illicit markets are adding human smuggling to their portfolios. In order to be addressed effectively, these developments necessitate a calibration of the existing law enforcement responses. Experience and expertise exchange between European countries affected by transnational organised crime can foster the development of law enforcement methods informed by best practices yet suitable for addressing specific national contexts. Strengthening international cooperation can thus aid in increasing police capacity, recognising gaps in law enforcement practices and adapting response towards both emerging and established threats.
Recognising the need for strengthening law enforcement cooperation in tackling recent trends in trans-border organised crime, the Center for the Study of Democracy in collaboration with the Bulgarian Ministry of the Interior and the Norwegian Police University College launched the initiative “Strengthening law enforcement responses to transnational organised crime in the context of the migrants crisis”, funded under Programme BG 13 “Schengen Cooperation and Combating Cross-border and Organised Crime, including Trafficking and Itinerant Criminal Groups" of the Norwegian Financial Mechanism (2009-2014). The initiative, which will be implemented by November 2017, aims to
- increase understanding of opportunities afforded to organised crime by the migrant crisis and the emerging intersections between human smuggling and other OC activities in Bulgaria and Norway;
- identify institutional gaps and best practices in tackling cross-border criminal threats associated with the migrant crisis in Bulgaria and Norway;
- strengthen police cooperation between Bulgaria and Norway and contribute to improving police capacity in tackling organised crime through the development of more effective law enforcement approaches.
A report on countering cross-border crime in Bulgaria and Norway with best practices and recommendations for more effective law enforcement responses will be published and presented at an international conference in November 2017.