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There are multitude definitions of what constitutes organised crime1. The Council of Europe defines organised crime as:
The illegal activities carried out by structured groups of three or more persons existing for a prolonged period of time and having the aim of committing serious crimes through concerted action by using intimidation, violence, corruption or other means in order to obtain, directly or indirectly, a financial or other material benefit.” 2,3
The topic addressed in this call has become of high importance to the well being and safety of the European citizens, due to a number of significant impact factors:
Globalisation and the opening of markets in goods, services and capital has been an unprecedented growth factor in Europe. Globalisation has been enabled and driven by the rise of information and communication technologies4. These factors however have also facilitated the growth of transnational organised crime in the same way that ICT has reduced barriers for enterprise5. National and Transnational crime organisations can be characterised as progressive and innovative network organisations founded on trust. Crime organisations use strategies of opportunity and least resistance, they are flexible and evolve quickly. Whereas Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) are often characterised as monolithic, politicised, slow to react, unaccustomed to information sharing and must deal with vast amounts of information. However, Organised crime has access to the same ICT, some of which were until recently classed as armaments6.

The fall of the eastern block was a key event in European globalisation. The consequent accession of the Eastern European state to the Union and the dismantling of their state apparatchik resulted in millions of new EU citizens, but also thousands of former state intelligence and police employees, who now engage in organised crime. Their trade-craft is ideally suited to organised crime. The economic value of organised crime is estimated to be between 15-18%7 of global GDP. Empirical evidence would indicate that the current global economic crisis would cause the focus of organised crime to shift from activities such as Drug Trafficking and Prostitution, to Cyber Crime and Counterfeit Goods, criminal activity of special relevance in the Information Age.
European Law Enforcement Agencies are increasingly more reliant on information and communication technologies and affected by a society shaped by the Internet and social media. This challenge can also be seen as an opportunity for LEAs. The richness and quantity of information available from open sources, if properly processed, can in itself provide valuable intelligence and help draw inference from existing closed source intelligence. Sharing information and acquiring intelligence across borders would imply common standards for database access and interoperability. The CAPER project makes no assumptions on the existence of such implied common standards and will instead attempt to establish coherent common standards amongst the end-users that will be participating in the project, contributing to eventual future de facto, and/or formal standards and best practices.


Council of Europe, 2002, 6
COM(2000) 786, 29/11/2000
4  Jurgen Osterhammel and Niels P.Petersson. Globalization: a short history. (2005) P.8
The Internet and Foreign Market Expansion by Firms, Bent Petersen, Lawrence S. Welch and Peter W. Liesch, Management International Review, Vol 42, 2002/2, pp. 207-221.
6  Eelco Lijding,Global Competence Leader Financial Crime Control, Capgemini, September 12th, 2007
7  Misha Gelnny, “McMafia: A Journey Through the Global Criminal Underworld”, ISBN 0224075039, Knopf, London, January 2008.


Law Enforcement Information Exploitation and Sharing - Status Quo


During the preparation of the CAPER project, the consortium held exploratory meetings with the participating LEAs. They cited the following obstacles relevant to the call topic:

  • Information relevant to investigations is mainly unstructured
  • They work with vast quantities of relevant documents
  • The multitude of information sources is further complicated by the Internet’s 5 billion or more URLs
  • LEAs are faced with the challenges of managing information in multiple modalities, e.g. Image, Video, Audio, Text, and in multiple formats
  • The use of ICT itself to commit crime and the expert ICT resource of organised crime
  • ICT is a target for crime (Cyber Crime)
  • Information sharing between LEAs is inadequate, often wasting Police resources
  • Investigative conclusions and experiential knowledge in the LEAs is not being captured
  • The dismantling of national borders has created the need for greater international cooperation, a situation further complicated by the pan-national and anonymous nature of the Internet
  • Jurisdictional powers have not kept pace with the ICT revolution
  • Transnational organised crime requires LEAs to be skilled in multiple languages and technologies
  • Manual detection of relevant information in Open Sources coupled with a lack of intelligent processing of Close Source databases is inefficient and costly

  • LEAs do use Open Sources in investigations to identify those who have the intent and capability to commit crime. These sources are however exploited by manual means with little automation. In some cases, search engines, meta engines, Boolean semantics and/or Open Source Internet Browser add-ons are used as tools to improve their processes and add cross-language support. In general, state of the art analysis and information exploitation techniques are not consistently applied. The LEAs described the following as being the minimum requirements to be met by any system such as that proposed in CAPER:
  • Information sharing and exploitation that integrates Open Source Intelligence (OSI) and handles structured and unstructured information
  • No dependencies on the agent that has introduced information into the system or the results that it produces
  • Establish best practices for the use of ICT in criminal investigation and preventative indicators
  • Homogenisation and exploitation of information standards
  • A capability to generate a query or monitoring request in one language and have it performed over sources in several languages
  • That the system correctly complies with current national and European legislation with a particular emphasis on data protection and privacy
  • Ability to handle information from audio and video sources
  • Integration of semantic technologies to both improve Open and Close Intelligence sources in multilingual environments and to improve cooperation and information sharing

  • The CAPER project has therefore been prepared with the following core aims:

    • User Focused Project
    • User Defined Project
    • Cross and Multilingual Analysis
    • Video, Image, Biometrics, Speech and Audio
    • Combine Open and Closed information sources
    • Help LEA cooperation
    • Allow information Sharing
    • Automate Processes
    • Standardise
    • Propose practices and procedures
    • Active, real, participation of LEAs
    • Ease integration of legacy systems
    • Evangelise the results of the project