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A Framework to Assess the Harms of Crime

Cardiff University School of Social Sciences

Thursday, 20 March 2014 from 17:00 to 19:00 (GMT)

A Framework to Assess the Harms of Crime

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Event Details

Drinks reception from 5pm

The lecture will commence at 5.30pm

Despite the centrality of harm to crime and criminalisation and increasing interest in harm as a basis for crime control policy, very little effort has been made, in criminology or the adjacent social sciences, to identify, assess, and compare the harms associated with different crimes (as distinct from the cost or the perceived seriousness of crime).

Assessing the harms of crimes presents, in fact, substantial conceptual and methodological challenges. In this presentation, I first briefly consider these challenges: Chief among them are those of morality, cultural and socio-economic variability, subjectivity, infinitude, causality, standardisation, quantification and incommensurability.

I then present an analytical framework with which to systematise the empirical assessment of harm and address at least some of those challenges. This framework, which I have developed with Victoria Greenfield, consists of a set of tools and a multistep process with which to apply them; specifically, it draws together a model of the criminal activity, a taxonomy of the types and bearers of harms, scales for evaluating the severity and incidence of harms, and a matrix for prioritizing harms.

Finally, I identify the different policy goals that such a harm assessment can serve and summarily present the results of the first applications of the framework. My conclusions are two-fold: it is possible to reliably estimate some harms of criminal activities, but it is not possible—for both conceptual and methodological reasons—to develop an encompassing estimate of the total harms of these activities.

Cardiff Centre for Crime, Law and Justice (CCLJ) seminar co-sponsored by the British Society of Criminology (Welsh branch) 

 British Society of Criminology


Speaker biography

Letizia Paoli is professor of criminology at the University of Leuven Faculty of Law. Italian by birth, she received her Ph.D. in social and political sciences from the European University Institute in Florence in 1997.  From 1998 to 2006 she was senior research fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law in Freiburg. She has been visiting scholar or professor at the Universities of Giessen, Tübingen, Paris I (Sorbonne) and Rotterdam and served as consultant to the Italian Ministries of the Interior and Justice and two UN agencies (UNODCCP, now UNODC and UNICRI).  She is the Vice-President of the International Society for the Study of Drug Policy and member of the Scientific Committee of the European Monitoring Centre of Drugs and Drug Addiction.

Since the early 1990s, Dr. Paoli has published extensively on organised and serious crime, drug markets and related control policies and, more recently, doping and anti-doping and the harms of criminal  activities. Her publications include:

  • Paoli, L. 2003. Mafia Brotherhoods: Organized Crime, Italian Style. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Paoli, L., V.A. Greenfield and P. Reuter. 2009. The World Heroin Market: Can the Supply Be Cut?. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Greenfield, V.A. and L. Paoli. 2013. ‘A Framework to Assess the Harms of Crime’. British Journal of Criminology 53(5): 864-885.
  • Paoli, L., V.A. Greenfield and A. Zoutendijk. 2013. ‘The Harm of Cocaine Trafficking. Applying a New Framework for Assessment.’ Journal of Drug Issues43 (4):407-436.
  • Paoli, L. and V.A. Greenfield. 2013. ‘Harm: A Neglected Concept in Criminology, A Necessary Benchmark in Crime Policy.’ European Journal of Crime, Criminal Law and Criminal Justice, 21:  359–377.
  • Paoli, L. 2014.  How to Tackle (Organized) Crime in Europe? The EU Policy Cycle on Serious and Organized Crime and the New Emphasis on Harm. European Journal of Crime, Criminal Law and Criminal Justice, 22: 1-12.
  • Paoli, L. and A. Donati. 2014. The Sport Doping Market: Understanding Supply and Demand, and the Challenges of Their Control. New York: Springer.
Do you have questions about A Framework to Assess the Harms of Crime? Contact Cardiff University School of Social Sciences

When & Where

Committee Rooms, Glamorgan Building
Cardiff University
King Edward VII Avenue
CF10 3WT Cardiff
United Kingdom

Thursday, 20 March 2014 from 17:00 to 19:00 (GMT)

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Cardiff University School of Social Sciences

Cardiff School of Social Sciences is a world leading centre for innovative and interdisciplinary social science research and training.

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A Framework to Assess the Harms of Crime
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