Academic event 2011

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Fighting Organized Crime – social or security policy? The lessons learnt from Bulgaria

Katerina Gachevska

‚ Birmingham City University


This paper discusses the emergence of a new international security paradigm which has shifted the attention from traditional military threats to internal threats and particularly the threat of organised crime. This shift occurred in mid 1990s and has since led to significant developments in internal and international policy making. Notably, it has become one of the cornerstones of the European security architecture and has informed a significant part of the development of the European Union as a political and security structure, as well as its own enlargement to the new democracies in Eastern Europe.  As crime has traditionally been seen and dealt with as a social problem rather than a security issue this shift has had some major implications for the internal political framework of all countries affected by the new anti-crime agenda. One of those cases, which the paper focuses on, is Bulgaria where organised crime became a key political issue since 1990s and it has since moved from the area of social to the new area of internationalised internal security policy. This was also perfumed under the conditions of shrinking social role of the state and the rise of a new state legalisms, security preoccupations and a new ‘securitocracy’. Thus all of those processes can be linked to a global trend of shrinking the welfare state and merger of internal and external security and their respective infrastructures. The paper is particularly concerned with the implications of this shift and the way they affected internal policy making and the criminological situation in the country. It looks at the process through which those changes were developed and implemented, the new legislation and emergence of actors and agencies responsible for the delivery of internal-cross-European security, and the problems that those agencies encountered mainly in their legitimacy and capacity to deliver on policy goals. The final conclusion of the paper is that the shift to security policy in the area of crime has in fact led to more crime as the traditional tools of dealing with economic deprivation and inequality were marginalised while security tools such as policing were prioritized. In that way the underlying conditions which bred crime were exacerbated and the overall effect of the security policy has been a further disconnection between policy and policy making and the situation on the ground.


About author:


Dr. Katerina Gachevska is a lecturer in Criminology and Security Studies and a member of the Centre of Applied Criminology at Birmingham City University, UK. She has researched and published in the area of fighting organised crime and democracy, the process of European integration, and the transformation of the international security agenda in the post-Cold War world. She is currently researching the shift from social to security policy in the area of crime prevention and its link to the transformation of a state.