​Police losing technology race to criminals as austerity bites – Europol

A Geneva police staff (Reuters / Denis Balibouse)
Police in Europe will soon be at a technical disadvantage to organized criminals as austerity and funding cuts threaten investment, Europol warned in a new report.

Europe’s policing agency said Monday that criminal gangs will in future do business in a “virtual criminal underground”, using virtual currencies like Bitcoin, which are much harder to trace as well as using communication structures to make themselves more decentralized and looser and thereby harder for police to keep track of.

While austerity will also leave police on the back foot.

“Sustained austerity threatens to leave law enforcement behind the curve and unable to close the gap to criminal actors, who continuously innovate and invest,” Europol said in a report on the future of organized crime.

Europol also warned that unless budgets were increased victims of cybercrime might have to club together and investigate incidents of cybercrime themselves.

The warning is similar in tone to concerns raided by national intelligence agencies that Islamist radicals in Europe were organizing themselves online into an elusive “swarm” which was becoming difficult to gather intelligence on.

Meanwhile the shifting balance of global wealth and the relative decline of prosperity in Europe would also see a change in direction of migrants currently flooding into the continent via the Mediterranean and the Balkans who instead would target the Asian or South American labor markets.

The report also highlighted that the nature of crime itself will change with individual criminal “entrepreneurs” offering “crime as a service.”

As the proportion of elderly people increases across Europe, they may become the main target of organized criminal groups, particular as many old people are more vulnerable and may be dealing with poverty and poor health.