European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research

, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 203–219 | Cite as

The Goods Transport Network’s Vulnerability to Crime: Opportunities and Control Weaknesses



This paper presents the findings of a qualitative study into the goods transport sector and its vulnerability to crime. Based on 33 interviews with professionals and law enforcement agents, four interviews with convicted criminals, 26 case files from the Belgian Federal Police and the customs services and 9 informal conversations with law enforcement agency personnel, academics and professionals, the paper analyses what structures, mechanisms, conditions and interdependencies make the goods transport network susceptible to criminal activity. It is suggested that vulnerability to crime is twofold, consisting of opportunities based on weak sector conditions and weak regulation. It will be demonstrated that small and medium enterprises present particular opportunities for criminal exploitation due to their weaker financial position and the lack of crime prevention measures in place. The study found no criminal ‘front’ structures that are transport businesses alone, because of the high start-up costs within the industry; rather, non-transport companies are exploited to connect to the legal transport sector. Finally, the paper identifies key weaknesses in the sector, asking whether there should be due diligence or regulatory duties for certain roles in the supply chain like shipping agents.


Crime vulnerability Goods transport sector Opportunity Control 



This research has been carried out under the auspices of the Belgian Science Policy Office in the programme "Society and Future". The author would like to thank the “DANGER” project group members especially Prof. Dr. Tom Vander Beken and Prof. Dr. Nicholas Dorn for their sustained support and advice. In addition we would like to thank the anonymous reviewers for their fruitful comments to improve this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.IRCP - Institute for International Research on Criminal Policy, Department of Criminal Law and CriminologyGhent UniversityGentBelgium

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