Latest research from Morgan Burcher and Assoc Prof Chad Whelan, “Social network analysis as a tool for criminal intelligence: understanding its potential from the perspectives of intelligence analysts”

Deakin postdoctoral student, Morgan Burcher (pictured), and Assoc Prof Chad Whelan have published their latest research in Trends in Organized Crime. The paper is titled ‘Social network analysis as a tool for criminal intelligence: understanding its potential from the perspectives of intelligence analysts‘.

Abstract: Over the past two decades an increasing number of researchers have applied social network analysis (SNA) to various ‘dark’ networks. This research suggests that SNA is capable of revealing significant insights into the dynamics of dark networks, particularly the identification of critical nodes, which can then be targeted by law enforcement and security agencies for disruption. However, there has so far been very little research into whether and how law enforcement agencies can actually leverage SNA in an operational environment and in particular the challenges agencies face when attempting to apply various network analysis techniques to criminal networks. This paper goes some way towards addressing these issues by drawing on qualitative interviews with criminal intelligence analysts from two Australian state law enforcement agencies. The primary contribution of this paper is to call attention to the organisational characteristics of law enforcement agencies which, we argue, can influence the capacity of criminal intelligence analysts to successfully apply SNA as much as the often citied ‘characteristics of criminal networks’.

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