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Crime and communities: Life under criminal group control

Briefing/policy paper

Written by Ashley Jackson, Florian Weigand, Theo Tindall

Image credit:Антон Дмитриев - Unsplash

Key messages

  • Academics and policy-makers tend to categorise and analyse so-called ‘criminal’ groups, which are primarily motivated by profit, separately from ‘political’ groups – ignoring critical commonalities between the two.
  • This paper argues that we should not see them as separate categories. Instead, we should envision a spectrum of motives and practices across all armed groups, regardless of how they are labelled.
  • This paper specifically examines practices that armed groups use to influence civilian behaviour. Even beyond direct violence, we find that criminal and political groups use similar techniques to control communities. Understanding these tactics is essential to helping people affected by violence.
  • With growing recognition of the blurred lines between conflict and crime, more integrated and comparative study is required to improve our understanding of and engagement with armed groups.