The Geometry of Shadows: a Critical Review of Organised Crime Risk Assessments

Published: 2010

Hamilton-Smith, L.N. and Mackenzie, S. (2010),‘The Geometry of Shadows: A critical review of organised crime risk assessments’, Policing and Society: An International Journal of Research and Policy, Vol. 23, No.3, pp. 257-279.


This article reports on a research project that aimed to review existing law enforcement approaches to assessing the risk posed by organised crime, as well as to examine the experience of law enforcement officers in using some of these approaches in different parts of the UK. We first outline the background to the project, before discussing some of the theoretical issues that all organised crime risk assessment approaches must typically grapple with. We then discuss some of the types of risk assessment approaches that are currently in use. Finally, drawing on the experience of officers and analysts using different approaches in the field, we consider the relative strengths and weaknesses of different extant assessment ‘tools’.