Today, 12 November, Europol’s Executive Director, Catherine De Bolle and Vittorio Rizzi, Deputy Director-General of Public Security in Italy, co-chaired the third working group on COVID-19 crime threats and law enforcement responses. To coincide with the virtual meeting, Europol published the latest in its series of COVID-19 reports, which analyses how COVID-19 crimes have infected Europe in 2020. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Europol has produced a range of reports for law enforcement partners, policymakers and the public.
“We are experiencing a second wave of the pandemic and organised crime does not miss the chance to exploit the circumstances to increase its profits by targeting vulnerable communities such as children and legal business activities weakened by the economic crisis. Our new report looks back at the last eight months and we can trace how criminals have used uncertainty and change to identify and exploit opportunities.” Catherine De Bolle
“We are facing a new social and economic reality with our tired and poorer communities. Organised crime is seeking to penetrate this social context of economic recession to pursue its illicit profits. However, we will ready to counter this threat through the strategy that we are building together.” Vittorio Rizzi, Deputy Director-General of Public Security in Italy.
European chiefs of police from Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Interpol came together to discuss the pressing topics surrounding criminality and COVID-19. Among the topics discussed, the following areas were identified as a priority for the working group:
- given the increased online presence of individuals, there have been growing concerns of potential scams and attacks, notably, surrounding fraud related to health products;
- some Member States saw a significant increase in online child sexual exploitation material. In some countries the statistics of the distribution of images and explicit videos indicated that it had become six times more frequent;
- the need to identify and monitor indicators related to the infiltration of organised criminal groups into the legal economy.
The COVID-19 crisis has presented organisational and operational challenges that have forced law enforcement agencies to re-think their business needs and approaches. Agencies are working together to be better prepared to face similar challenges in the future and protect their citizens.
You can download Europol’s recent report: How COVID-19-related crime infected Europe during 2020