Social Control Across Borders
in W. McDonald, Crime and Law Enforcement in the Global Village, Anderson, 1997.

Back to Main Page | Notes | References

Gary T. Marx

For understandable reasons most research on crime and social control focuses on particular geographical areas defined by national, state and local juridical boundaries. Borders have not been an issue in most studies of police and crime. In the United States crime, like politics, has traditionally been experienced and defined as a local phenomena. Until well into the twentieth century, the United States did not even have a significant national police presence and state police were weak as well. Increased nationalization and the strengthening of police was dependent on the growth of large cities and the development of modern means of communication, transportation and commerce. The latter factors continue to further the nationalization, internationalization and even globalization of crime and its control.

In recent decades the topic has become increasingly important and new elements are present. Traditionally if we asked about geographical place and violation, there was usually no distinction between 1) where an offence was carried out 2) where the damage or harm from it occurred 3) who had jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute 4) the citizenship of the investigator, offender and victim. These were territorially, not extra-territorially based and relatively more fixed and clearly defined than they are today. Borders were relevant to crime because of efforts to smuggle goods or persons from one area to another, or because of the movement of fugitives from the area of crime commission to an area where they sought immunity (e.g., Bonnie and Clyde with fast cars that carried them across state lines or the supposed move of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid to South America).

But the assumed links between place, crime, control and national identity have become more complicated. 1 To a greater extent than ever before, crime and control are uncoupled from a common national territory. The interdependent nature of regional and world systems for domestic criminality has become more evident.

In the case of drug trafficking for example, international interactions are part of a chain that eventually makes possible local violations. Focusing only on the sale of drugs once they arrive in the United States is a partial and narrow response. The internationalization of terrorism has led the United States to pass laws protecting Americans and their property from assault, regardless of where that occurs.

The arrival of cyberspace brings the potential for the separation of violation and physical space to new heights. Changes in communication make it possible to silently, invisibly and effortlessly cross physical borders. This is the case for international electronic funds transfers that may involve fraud or money laundering and for a variety of remote computer violations from malicious hacking and the destruction of data via "electronic mail bombs" to the theft, alteration or sending of prohibited data across borders. 2 New on-line remote forms of harassment, defamation, threat, and blackmail are possible when sent through "anonymous remailers". Such actions may not be crimes in both the receiving and sending country. For example as of 1993 Russia had no laws against money laundering, fraud or organized crime. Some activities considered illegal in the U.S. are standard legal banking practices elsewhere.

In 1994 the United States was a party to 103 bilateral extradition treaties and 13 mutual legal assistance treaties for the exchange of evidence. This number is increasing as is the number of cases. From 1984 to 1992 the total number of extradition and mutual legal assistance cases handled by the Office of International Affairs of the Justice Department increased from 535 to 2,238. (Snow, ch. this volume)

National legislation takes greater account of these changes as well. For example, contrary to the modern universalistic emphasis and equal protection of the law, which tends to assume equivalent punishment for equivalent acts, the 1994 Crime Act makes distinctions based on the national status of the victim or offender and the place of a crime. It contains special penalties for crimes against foreign nationals traveling in the United States and for the international trafficking in child pornography and prohibits commercial transactions involving stolen firearms that have moved in foreign commerce and it penalizes the use of proceeds from a kidnapping in foreign commerce. There are efforts to prohibit citizens from traveling to other countries to engage in activity that would be a crime if done at home. 3

As new more inclusive political and economic units appear such as the European Economic Community, violations in the poorer countries (for example of farm subsidies in Greece or Portugal), are viewed as an offence against the entire European community, even if not viewed that way by many those in the country in question where the offence occurs.

Apart from unilateral efforts by a given country to extend its social control definitions and activities to a transnational and even global scale (as with the United States' efforts to internationalize the war on drugs) and increased multi-lateral (often regional) cooperative efforts, there are also new and strengthened supra-national efforts concerned with human rights, the environment, drugs and terrorism.

Within the modern nation state there is at least a juridical monopoly over whose rules should prevail and who has the right to use force (in both cases the state). Yet when national borders are crossed (whether through unilateral, joint or supra-national means), the answers to these questions is initially unclear and must (if the action is not to be done in secret with the risks attending this) be negotiated.

The new developments noted above accentuate ambiguities involving place of an offence, nationality and jurisdiction that have been present since the creation of geographical and national borders. They are not dependent upon cyberspace or increased migration. They are highlighted in traditional colonial and disputed border situations (e.g., as between the U.S. government and Native American tribal courts or Israel and the Palestinian authority in Gaza and Jericho).

This article is concerned with the changing relations between place, violation, victim, violators, and social control. It offers a broad sociological introduction to the study of social control across borders. It does so by 1) noting why it is important to study this phenomena 2) identifying some new elements that may be present when social control crosses borders and 3) suggesting some hypotheses for empirical testing to guide future theory and research.

Some Reasons for Studying Cross Border Social Control

The study of policing across national borders can add to our knowledge in at least ten ways:

It can help us to understand the origins of domestic forms of control. The current police system in much of the West has its origins in the diffusion or importation of 18th century French developments involving the Gendarmerie and local commissioners and in the later forceful export by Napoleon of his centralized system and the penetrating methods of his police director, Fouche.

The renewed contemporary European interest in covert methods for conventional and white collar crimes owes much to the activities of the United State Drug Enforcement Agency in supplying personnel, resources, training, models and encouragement. Conversely the United States is also importing some European practices such as a broader scope for warrantless or traditionally prohibited searches (particularly if a good faith error is made), circumscribing the right to counsel and lengthening the allowable time of detention.

Resistance to proposed new forms may also be partly understood by knowledge of past cross border policing. Social structure both shapes and reflects culture. Thus memories of experiences under Nazi domination account for recent resistance in the Netherland's to a proposed national ID card and in Belgium to the electronic monitoring of those subject to house arrest. Even something as indirectly related to social control as a national census has been met with strong resistance in countries with recent totalitarian pasts.

A focus across borders calls attention to the systemic aspects of many forms of crime and social control. While the idea of systems is central to social understanding regardless of whether one looks within or across countries, its relevance across juridical borders is insufficiently appreciated. The manifest legal and formal boundaries between countries and between social control organizations directs attention to within a country and onto specific internal organizations, rather than encouraging a view of the broader systems of which they are a part. The fact that much international law enforcement is informal and off-the-record, if not always secret, also contributes to this view.

The systemic element can be seen in the international division of labor among sements of the illegal drug trade. While there is some overlap, countries tend to specialize in the provision of financeers, growers, bulk manufacturers, transporters, distributors, retailers, money launderers, and consumers.

The multi-national corporation with its geographical specialization and regional and world markets has some counterparts among those engaged in crime and social control. World markets and new forms of cooperation among violators are evident as are new forms of cooperation among controllers (e.g., the recent joint large scale prosecutions of organized crime in the United States and Italy).

Awareness of cross-border influences can help in understanding the dynamic nature of crime and enforcement patterns. Ebbs and flows in enforcement activity within a country (or region) may lead to the displacement or re-appearance of criminal activity between them. The classic example is the back and forth movement in opiate and cocaine production among parts of Asia and Latin America as control strengthens and weakens. Like a river seeking the swiftest path, contraband producers too flow to environments with the least resistance.

Developments beyond the borders of a country may effect the supply of victims and offenders and the demand and supply of illegal goods and services. Thus lack of economic opportunity or economic downturns may mean increased emigration and new violations in the host country (e.g., illegal immigration, tax violations, discrimination and racial assaults).

The high demand in certain Asian countries for animal parts believed to be aphrodisiacs has led to the killing of endangered species in the U.S. for export. Traditional domestic crimes such as auto theft are increasingly integrated into an international web of supply and demand. For example there has been an increase in auto theft in Europe for export as a result of the weakening of border controls and increased demand in Eastern Europe.

The ease with which individuals can be expelled from a country or accepted into other countries makes a difference. A country such as Germany which can expel "guest workers" suspected of crimes (even those of the third generation), may have a very different crime pattern than a country such as the Netherlands in which immigrants have greater rights and citizenship is easier to obtain. The United States with its long, easy to cross borders with Mexico contrasts with an isolated island country such as Japan. In California in 1994 one in five persons in prison had entered the country illegally.

Some aspects of criminal and police behavior can only be adequately understood by a focus on the broader context. Criminals (particularly in border areas) may commit crimes only in the adjacent country and then retreat to their own country as a safe haven. Traffic problems often spill across the borders of contiguous urban areas. Hot pursuit may link police across borders, as may mutual aide agreements for emergencies and even something as simple as creating compatible and non-interfering communications systems.

The ease of immigration and communication across borders is supportive of organized crime involving immigrants and their country of origin. Concern has recently been shown in the United States about eastern European and Asian organized crime groups opperating from places such as New York and San Francisco. Familiarity with the practices of both countries, family and other networks, a language most authorities don't understand and the ease of intimidating fellow immigrants who may not be predisposed to turn to police, may offer a bicultural advantage.

Attention to cross-border questions can call attention to the diffusion and standardization of control practices, even among nationally distinct agencies. Enforcement agencies in democratic industrial societies face many parallel problems such as traffic and theft and an interest in maintaining good community relations. The commonality of problems and problem definitions may be increasing. The ease of communication and exchange made possible by technical developments and weakened borders and the economic incentives of the private sector, encourage the diffusion of common forms and practices across borders, as well as contributing to a degree of convergence in practices. Increased standardization among control agencies is thus likely.

Police within and between countries increasingly know what their counterparts are doing. Police newspapers and magazines, study and training materials, conferences, liaison officers, computer networks, personnel exchanges, and public and private organizations such as Interpol, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the International Union of Police Officers, and government agencies concerned with sharing criminal justice information contribute to this. Entrepreneurs also play a role in selling standard technology such as computers, communications technology, alarm systems, and weapons.

A focus on cross-border policing can alert us to the emergence of new (or more prominent) sources of social control beyond the national state. After several centuries of continuous growth, the nation state is not expanding at the same rate and may even be weakening. The multi-national corporation is often pointed to as an alternative or competitor to the state. Such corporations often are accompanied by international private police (either in-house or contract). A related development can be seen in the growth of international government organizations. The growth of public and private police agencies that cross borders can be seen as a functional alternative to traditional, weakened and/or ineffective state structures, and also as a response to the growth of legal and illegal (and mixed) multi-national transactions and corporations.

In this development we see some parallel to the increased consolidation of power in the nation state in the last two centuries. As William MacDonald notes in his introduction, the state is no longer a sufficient unit of analysis for understanding crime and control. Of course it never was, but scholars rarely looked beyond national borders because there was so much to see within them.

The elements of cross national policing based on linkages without a clearly (or easily) defined geographical locus fits well with the contemporary idea of networking as a means of integration and order in a computer-based society. Networks may apply internationally as well as locally. Durkheim (1954) did not have international policing agencies in mind when he argued that professional communities would serve as a new basis for social order in industrial society. Yet these emerging forms of social control 3/4 specialized, dispersed, divorced from a familiar geographical base and relying on networks offer a rich area to explore.

Attention to cross-border policing can alert us to the changing form and meaning of borders and to the dynamics of change and of opposing forces. The cross border policing considered here involves changes in the policing of spatial borders. They are related to a broader set of technical and social changes regarding the crossing and alteration of other borders involving public and private places, work and home, and time, the senses, and the body. (Marx, forthcoming). Traditional borders (whether physical "hard" borders such as walls and distance or "soft" cultural borders such as national frontiers) are weakening and becoming more blurred.

The regional and even new global control units are more inclusive. At the same time we see a dialectic move toward smaller, fragmented local units as in Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union and parts of Africa. In both Italy and California there are movements to separate the north from the south. To a greater extent than ever before we see contradictory tendencies and the intermeshing of decentralization and localism with centralization and internationalism.

Attention to cross-border policing can help us understand new threats to human rights, as well as new means of protecting them. For structural reasons involving size, the locus of accountability and lesser visibility, cross border policing has the potential to do great harm to human rights. It would be tragic to see hard won (and ever precarious) national civil liberties and civil rights protections silently eroded away by supra-national public and private forms of policing.

On the other hand by establishing universal standards, by anticipating violations and by serving as a court of last resort international criminal justice agencies such as the European Court of Human Rights can perform a protective function and serve as a counter to the infringements of national governments. Thus recent reforms restricting wiretapping in Britain and on arrest and interrogation practices in Belgium appeared as a result the European Court.

Simmel (19 ) in studying conflict noted that adversaries often come to resemble each other organizationally and tactically. We can note an apparent increase in monitoring organizations and social movements concerned with criminal justice issues that cross national borders. Examples include Amnesty International and the International Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement. As governments increasingly form transnational organizations, citizens will as well. The cross border publications for police are matched by periodicals for citizens such as Statewatch which is concerned with "monitoring the state and civil liberties in the UK and Europe".

Some Functions and Structures of Cross Border Social Control

Social control can be viewed as both an activity or function and as an organization. Among the most frequently occurring forms of cross border social control activity are:

  1. "Border policing" that seeks to monitor and control the entrance and exit of persons, goods and resources from one system to another. Customs agents do this at national borders and points of arrival. But local police often watch at airport, train and bus stations to see who is arriving and departing. During the dust bowl in the late 1930s when migrants from Oklahoma and Arkansas came west, Los Angeles police were stationed 300 miles away at the California-Arizona state border seeking to exclude persons without sufficient cash. (Guthrie, 19 ).
  2. Unilateral cross border interventions on another system's turf for offenders suspected of violating a system's rules, or for victims, witnesses and evidence relevant to this. This may happen informally (with or without notification), through formal notification and request for permission to act and/or for cooperation (as with formal arrest and extradition requests) 4
  3. Border crossings as protective services in which security agents accompany leaders to other areas, or in which police extend the domestic social control function, sometimes in an undercover capacity, by accompanying their citizens across borders to international sporting, political and entertainment events. 5 The emphasis is on the protection, or policing of system members when they are physically beyond the system's geographical territory.
  4. Multilateral (joint) patrols or investigations in which agents of several systems work together. Their activities may take place across their systems or in other unrelated systems. Violations may involve the laws of only one country, be transnational in violating the laws of several (or more) countries, or be broad violations of international law. Whose laws are violated and where the violations occur is somewhat independent of which country or countries investigates.

  5. This may involve general policing of contiguous border regions, or cases defined by a particular type of offence (e.g., drugs, weapons or money laundering). 6 Agents of one system may operate in another with only minimal, or no, notification and cooperation with the host system.

    A well known example in the United States is the "pizza connection" case that involved extensive cooperation between the United States and Italy with arrests and trials in both countries. Such investigations may be ad hoc or routinized and involve formal treaties and agreements, or merely informal cooperation.

  6. Operational supra-national organizations that are not simply a cooperative accomodation or blending of distinct systems of control, but which are new organizations with a distinctive mandate to enforce a system of rules which crosses systems. The European Economic Community's anti-fraud unit is an example. Such units may become ever more important through regional and world organizations, as the mobility of violators and the interdependence among systems becomes ever more important. However they meet with meet much more suspicion and resistance than in the other forms.

  7. Global and regional efforts at prohibiting or mandating/facilitating behavior raise many interesting questions and in some ways reflect the pacification, integration and legal homogenization processes that accompanied nation building. This phenomena gives a new meaning to the idea of a "the new world order". (Nadelmann 1993)

  8. Police liaison officials who are formally assigned to another social control system. For example the United States [add from our case study]
  9. Non-operational multinational organizations such as Inter-Pol and Euro-Pol whose purpose it is to exchange information such as on wanted and suspected persons or stolen property. (Anderson 199 ) This may occur on an informal basis as with contacts among persons in different countries who are acquainted. [add something on Trevi Shengen?] It may involve requests for surveillance of locations, telephone intercepts and the examination of financial and other records.
  10. Multinational private policing organizations with operational and information exchange functions. [add from case study]
  11. Joint training, exercises and the sharing of technologies, communications systems and information among countries having common investigatory goals
  12. Direction, training and resources offered by a dominant system to others. In this century the United States has given extensive aid to police in south (and more recently central) American countries in this century. (Higgins, etc.) In recent years it set up a national police force in Panama and has helped to revamp the police in Haiti. After WW II it helped to rebuild the police of Germany and Japan. The United States' Justice Department has an International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program. Equivalent organizations exist in several countries. South African police have given training and resources to various police forces in Africa and France has a world-wide program of police assistance. While not quite an international arms race, important elements of national competition are present here with respect to both the economic and political interests of the competing countries.
Not surprisingly these efforts may mix with national hegemonic goals and may conflict with the goals of those who receive the assistance. An important goal of some U.S. efforts has been intelligence gathering and the perpetuation of stable anti-communist regimes. The line between domestic policing and national security has been blurred in many such exchanges and assistance has gone to the military rather than to civilian police, or there may not be a meaningful distinction between these. The CIA and military have played an important role in foreign police training. Domestic crime may be labeled political subversion and criminal investigative means used against political dissenters. While it is certainly not the avowed purpose of contemporary U.S. policy to aid repressive dictators in more effectively penetrating civil society, once the training and resources have been delivered, the donor loses control over how they will be used.

While the forms and functions discussed above are analytically distinct, they are often joined in different empirical configurations. For example members of an élite Colombian police commando unit located and killed drug czar Pablo Escobar in an internal operation. Yet they were screened and trained by the CIA and DEA. A CIA tactical analysis team provided them with intelligence information and NSA spy satellites and C-130 reconnaissance planes participated in the search. (Newsweek Dec. 13, 1993)

We see in the above example not only the crossing of geographical and national boundaries but the blending of the police, military and national security functions. In a democratic society such as the United States these have traditionally been kept distinct, and with good reason! Yet with recent changes in technology and strategy and with the weakening of borders they are, if not merging, at least closer than ever before, and in particular contexts overlapping and even integrated into the same system of control.

This has been aided by the demise of the cold war. As good protectors of bureaucratic turf, national security and intelligence agencies have sought to redefine their mission from spying and political intelligence to criminals and criminal intelligence. (Turner, 1991) As the overlap between agencies concerned with national security and policing grows, the term re-inventing government takes on an additional meaning. 7

This shift in intelligence resources in many Western countries may be one factor in the increased attention and concern over international organized crime. Intelligence agency "enforcement entrepreneurs" are generating data on violations and potential violations (e.g., the smuggling of nuclear materials) that mobilize public concern and law enforcement efforts. (Marx 1981, 1988) In this labeling sense authorities may be unwitting causes of the phenomena they are concerned with combating. When anticipatory preventive actions are taken (as with a recent questionable German undercover case involving an effort to purchase nuclear materials) they may also generate the problem.

An important explanatory need is to account for the differences, correlates and patterning of the structures and functions discussed above. What are the differing social processes and consequences found with unilateral, non-negotiated social control interventions across borders as against multi-lateral negotiated actions, as against the still rare, but increasingly important surpra-national forms?

What's Different When Social Control Crosses Borders?

Social control across borders has some distinctive features, yet it is still social control. From the most general sociological standpoint, rule violation and enforcement raise common questions, regardless of where they occur. 8 Thus whether we are dealing with car theft in Cleveland or international drug trafficking we need to ask questions such as:

  1. Who makes the rules and through what procedures?
  2. How much consensus is there on their legitimacy and desirability?
  3. How are violations and violators identified?
  4. What sanctions are applied to violators and through what process?
  5. What rules are intended to direct the actions of those who enforce the rules?
  6. What formal and informal means are used in law enforcement?
  7. Who is law enforcement accountable to?
When social control crosses system borders, regardless of whether this involves families, organizations or states, we confront issues involving internal and external authority. 9

These issues clearly go beyond territorial borders as such, although that is our focus here.

One characteristic of the modern democratic state is the presence of a secular legal system that applies to all within its confines. In Western democratic societies law enforcement activity within particular jurisdictions is in principle relatively unitary and monolithic. It is subject to the rule of law and to formally defined procedures expressed through bureaucratic organization.

]Absent special steps, social control across borders is on the average less likely to be as regulated or to show the same degree of rationalization and standardization. It is often more ad hoc and episodic in nature. Much cross border control is de facto rather than de jure. A legal, social, moral and organizational framework and common policies to regulate law enforcement behavior beyond system boundaries may be lacking, as is even the means for creating this. This absence can of course offer flexibility but also confusion, inconsistency, inefficiency and abuse. When the ability to use coercion and deception and to deprive citizens of their liberty is at stake, questions of accountability are of the utmost importance.

At a sufficiently abstract level any human system will show commonalities by virtue of being human and being a system. Yet when borders are crossed, new academic and policy issues appear. While social systems are leaky and interdependent, they also are based on boundaries. When a boundary has a legal basis those within it are likely to face common rules with respect to both what constitutes a violation and what enforcement means are appropriate. 10 While differences are of degree, as we cross the borders of distinctive units, regardless of whether this involves cities, counties, states, special jurisdictions such as those of Native American tribes or single focus regulatory agencies such as Port Authorities, regions, or nations, new social control issues appear. These may involve conflicts over what the rules should be and how they should be prioritized, what enforcement means are appropriate, and conflicts over culture and resources and between enforcement and other goals.

Some of the most important issues present when social control crosses borders that may be present include:

1) There is likely to be less consensus across borders on what a violation is and on how the law should be interpreted. Apart from a small number of blatantly coercive or deceptive, self-interested actions such as murder or bank robbery, there may be disagreement across borders about whether a given form of behavior is in fact a crime and if so, how serious it is. For example the Netherlands which tolerates the use and possession of small amounts of marijuana, differs from surrounding countries such as Germany with no such tolerance.

What one country defines as terrorism, another may define as resistance, or countries may disagree on which groups offer the greatest threat and even what a threat is. For example a Pakistani religious party recently requested that American rock stars be brought to Pakistan for trial as terrorists. It said, "Michael Jackson and Madonna are the torch bearers of American society, their cultural and social values ...are destroying humanity." (Boulder Daily Camera, 2/13/95).

National laws may conflict with each other or with international laws (e.g., lack of agreement over how far national boundaries extend into the ocean generate conflicts over fishing rights). Differences in laws and legal culture need to be accommodated or they simply are transgressed.

A nice example of the latter are international child custody disputes. Each year the U.S. State Department works on about 1000 cases in which a foreign born parent returns with an American child to his or her homeland. What is kidnapping in the U.S. may be seen as a religious and patriotic act in the country returned to. Not surprisingly countries tend to protect their own nationals and a parent's desire to raise their child at home. The long arm of the law often doesn't reach. This can lead to secret unilateral actions in which kidnapping is met with kidnapping, as an aggrieved parent hires a private agency to do what the state can not legally do. (New York Times, 9/5/94)

The enforcement of rules across geographical borders that are a crime in one country and not another shares much with the crossing of cultural borders within a heterogenious country. Both sides may experience moral outrage3/4 authorities at the behavior, and the subjects of enforcement at being arrested for doing something that their culture does not define as wrong. One source of this conflict within countries is immigration. 11 Of course culture conflicts do not develop only from immigration. Much of the study of deviance has been based on indigenous groups who simply view things differently (e.g., disagreements over drug use, homosexuality and prostitution). Here the system borders crossed our cultural not geographical. Saudi Arabia and Singapore with their strong emphasis on the needs of the community as against the individual differ markedly from Western democratic nations in that regard.

2) There is likely to be less consensus across borders on law enforcement priorities and on how and when the law should be applied. For example in the 1980s the United States' war against drugs focused on cocaine and not on heroin. The enforcement activities the U.S. encouraged in countries such as Belgium reflect that priority, even though in Belgium the problem with addiction was almost exclusively heroin. (Van Outrive and Cappelle, forthcoming) The plea bargaining and deals with informers that are common in the U.S. may be seen as illegal, or at least inappropriate, elsewhere. For example promises of immunity made to transnational violators in return for their cooperation may not be honored by other countries eager to prosecute them for violations done on their territory.

3) There is likely to be less consensus across borders on what constitutes legal and appropriate enforcement procedures. Standards of evidence may vary as may the degree of discretion and power permitted law enforcement. Wiretap information may be used only with great difficulty, if at all, in some countries. Until recently, undercover means as used in the United States were illegal in many European countries. (Fijnaut and Marx 1995, Nadelmann 1994) When the situation involves luring a foreign national into an undercover trap for behavior that would not even be a crinme in his own country, using means that are prohibited in his country it is not surprising that the reaction is negative.

A Dutch police official, wary of certain cross border operations, views the German police as over-eager: "the sense of values of the Dutch police is very different from the German police. And I put it very mildly. With them, the ends justify the means. I have very bad experiences with that, and that's the reason to keep back on certain cases." (Klerks, 1995)

With joint investigations there may be competition over who has jurisdiction, who gets the credit for the investigation, who makes the arrests and who does the prosecution. Agreements that hold in one country may not be honored in another.

4) As borders are crossed the likelihood of cultural conflicts and misunderstandings increases. Beyond law, differences in culture, customs, language, organization, training and operations and being in unfamiliar contexts may engender problems ranging from misunderstandings, to inefficiency, danger and conflict. There may be differences in competence and experience and the way that violence and corruption are viewed. It appears for example that French police have more latitude in their use of force than do American police. A concern of U.S. police, particularly in their dealing with police in developing or rapidly changing countries is corruption and the danger of compromising investigations. For example consider the problem when police or government officials are the target of the investigation, whether as major actors or as their protectors.

Cross border control is less likely to see a single governing entity capable of (and interested in) creating and enforcing rules. This absence of coordination as borders are crossed may mean increased logistical needs with respect to protection of agents, communication, and the need for other resources. There is a research need to understand how the ways in which different types of cross border social control units create mechanisms for setting priorities, determining and coordinating actions and resolving disputes.

The sophistication of some cross border crime requires multi-agency and multi-national task forces. Yet the more complex the investigation, the more that can go wrong and the greater the need to plan for contingencies and the greater the difficulty in doing this. For example operation C-Chase aimed at Colombian drug trafficking and money laundering networks involved a joint investigating team including Customs, IRS, FBI, DEA, plus agencies in other countries. These problems are accentuated when covert means are used. (Passas and Goskin, 1995)

5) The unilateral crossing of geographical borders may introduce conflicts between law enforcement and other goals such as foreign policy. Thus diplomacy and statecraft may value not creating an international incident or avoiding embarrassment to an ally, or tolerate rule breaking as an anti-communist strategy while police see violations that they want to stop and are likely to be offended by being unable to take action against serious violators. Police may also be in conflict with their own and foreign intelligence agencies. Police may seek to see arrests made, while the latter may be against intervention for fear of revealing sources and methods in a trial.

Some Hypotheses

We gain understanding partly by describing what is occurring. The basic facts as supplied by government reports, memos, legislation, treaties, court records and statistics and journalistic accounts offer raw material from which the social scientist may seek more general understanding by ordering the data in the form of predictive hypotheses. The social scientist looks across cases for general ideas that may help identify underlying patterns, trends and regularities amid the rich flows of the empirical world. A knowledge of this can make for better public policy.

On the basis observing recent developments in Europe and North America, I hypothesize the following:

1) Relative to previous forms of cross-border policing, the emerging forms are:

  1. likely to formalize interactions that have been informal,
  2. be based on voluntary cooperation rather than coercion,
  3. involve the ascendance, at least at the level of public pronouncements of a discourse stressing democratic ideals and the "softening" of power as the velvet glove replaces (or covers) the iron fist,
  4. be specialized rather than diffuse,
  5. be less based on geographical proximity and more on functional interdependence,
  6. likely to see technology play a greater role and increased prevalence of asking the question how can we use this technology, rather than asking how can we best solve a particular problem,
  7. involve an increasing number of countries in a larger number of forms,
  8. give greater emphasis to the anticipation and prevention of violations.
2) Police will show ambivalence about efforts to formalize their cross-border activities. On the one hand, they will be supportive of efforts to legitimize actions believed to increase their effectiveness; on the other hand, they will be hesitant to see their informal practices subject to overt formal control.

3) Civil libertarians will also show ambivalence about these efforts. This results from the conflict between their desire to see the rule of law extended to these new (and potentially liberty threatening) forms and the fear that once this is done control across borders will significantly expand and activities which once were taken only under extreme conditions because their legal status was unclear will become routine.

4) Restrictions on public and private police within a country are an impetus to the spread of transnational police as a means of avoiding such restrictions.

5) Restrictions on public transnational policing are an impetus to the spread of transnational private police.

6) Interactions between police, national security and military agencies will increase and the lines between them will become more blurred.

7) The increased emphasis on international cooperation will have a modeling effect and will serve to increase regional cooperation between sections of countries sharing a common or related culture or problem (e.g., the Basque regions of Spain and France). This will occur within countries as well.

8) Harmonization and standardization will be much more common than structural integration

9) The farther removed a control activity is from a nation's monopoly over coercion the more likely it is to occur (e.g. the exchange of information, liaison officers, training exchanges vs. granting vs. power to use force, arrest, try and sentence).

10) The smaller the country the greater the impact of cross-border policing activities

11) A lessening of border controls between countries will be associated with an intensification of surveillance within countries and at the broader parameters of the cooperating countries.

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  1. Of course things are not that simple. Thus even with the previous high degree of geographical consistency, there are complications, as with those granted immunity or rival jurisdictions. Police may be given permission to break the law in order to enforce it, and diplomatic immunity which is granted under international law, exempts members of diplomatic services from many laws. The tendency to apply a country's laws to its foreign embassies and military bases, in spite of local law, is another territorially confounding example. In this sense susceptibility to jurisdiction is something persons carry with them regardless of whether they are within the geographical boundaries of their own country, much as those subject to religious law do not escape it when traveling.

  2. In some countries theological courts exist along side of those of government, and federal, state and local laws may of course conflict. Yet within countries there are more likely to be means for resolving these, such as giving priority to federal laws and court appeals to decide jurisdiction.

  3. For example the case of the hackers in Hannover, Germany who broke into a variety of United States systems described in C. Stoll (199 ),The Cuckoo's Nest. Within the United States there are cases such as a couple who was found guilty of selling pornography over the inter-net from California to a postal inspector in Tennesse, even though the material could be legally sold in California. The pictures existed only as data on a hard drive in a community where they were not illegal, until they were voluntarily taken by the inspector.

  4. In another interesting case a police lieutenant in Kentucky received an e-mail tip from Switzerland regarding a child pornography ring in England. After three months of investigation over the internet (never leaving Kentucky) he sent his results to police in England who arrested the distributor. (U.S. News and World Report, Jan. 23, 1995).

  5. In 1994 Australia was considering criminalizing travel to the Philippines and Thailand for purposes of sex with minors. [note to ed: I am trying to verify the outcome of this]
  6. A recent example of the informal was the DEA's involvement in the kidnapping of a doctor from Mexico suspected in the killing of DEA agents. In a private deal the agency apparently paid Mexican police to deliver the doctor to them at the border. Formal permission was not requested but there was some cooperation, although it was with the Mexican police acting in a private fashion. This suggests four types worthy of study (informal, cooperation; informal no cooperation; formal, cooperation; and formal, no cooperation.
  7. For a description of this by British police concerned with soccer violence see Armstrong and Hobbs, forthcoming
  8. As we move from the interaction of control agents at contiguous borders and those in the field, to the level of formal national contacts, the dynamics change significantly. Some recent international agreements simply formalize informal practice. It is important to view the link between the formal and informal as distinct, somewhat independent levels. Cooperative treaties may never result in actions and social control across borders has hardly required formal agreements. Yet with recent changes the correlation between the two is no doubt increasing.
  9. An interesting comparison is with domestic law enforcement's shifts back and forth between the political and the criminal. In contrast to the CIA's moving into criminal matters, a Senate inquiry into domestic law enforcement reports that through the early 1970s, there was "a relentless expansion of domestic intelligence activity beyond investigation of criminal conduct toward the collection of political intelligence and the launching of secret offensive actions against Americans". (Select Committee, book II, 1976, p. 21). Resources were diverted from conventional crime to political intelligence and the policing of politics in response to the civil rights and anti-war movements. As these movements subsided, partly in response to social control efforts, new resources and covert capabilities were directed at conventional crime. Their was a significant expansion in the use of the covert means (informers, infiltration, electronic surveillance) that are well suited to political intelligence to conventional crime. Interesting contrasts are also suggested by the FBI's reform move out of political policing under J. Edgar Hoover in the 1920s to its return to it in the late 1930s and its emphasis on domestic communism after WW II.
  10. fn to recent gen soc cont bookds]
  11. See for example Jack Katz' discussion ("Cover-Up and Collective Identity: On the Natural Antagonism of Authority Internal and External to Organizations, Social Problems, pp. 3-17). Add st re recent L and S article on 3rd parties.
  12. This is of course an oversimplification since even within the same country and geographical region there is likely to be overlap and conflict between geographical units (cities and counties) or functional units (regulatory agencies). In countries such as the United States with its federal system and endless dialogue and dialectic between local, state and federal enforcement agencies, border issues have greater salience than in centralized national systems such as France. The clearer the boundaries and the more homogenious the population, the less relevant are the factors discussed in the subsequent paragraphs.
  13. Some examples from a study police and immigrants in England include conflicts over ritual killing of chickens and the sacrifice of a lamb; a tradition of street life and neighborhood parties to which all are welcome and liquor is sold by the cup without a license, and disciplining children with force. This study also reports elements of a parallel, if informal legal system which appeared to reproduce parts of the social structure of some Pakistani villages within England. In one case police intervened on behalf of a man who had receivd a sentence of 50 lashes from a village council in England. We were told of one English policemen who could speak Hindi and was given the power of a tribal judge. (Marx and Morton, 1978)

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M. Anderson, 1989 Policing the World: Interpol and the Politics of International Police Cooperation (Oxford: Clarendon Press).

G. Armstrong and D. Hobbs, "High Tackles and Professional Fouls: The Policing of Soccer Hooligianism" in C. Fijnaut and G. Marx, 1995 Undercover: Police Surveillance in Comparative Perspective (The Hague: Kluwer).

Boulder Daily Camera, Feb. 13, 1995.

E. Durkheim, 1964 Division of Labor in Society (New York: Free Press).

C. Fijnaut and G. Marx, 1995 Undercover: Police Surveillance in Comparative Perspective (The Hague: Kluwer).

J. Katz, "Cover-Up and Collective Integrity: On the Natural Antagonisms of Authority Internal and External to Organizations" Social Problems

P. Klerks, "Covert Policing in the Netherlands" in C. Fijnaut and G. Marx, 1995 Undercover: Police Surveillance in Comparative Perspective (The Hague: Kluwer).

G. Marx, "Ironies of Social Control", Social Problems, Feb. 1981.

3/4 1988, Undercover: Police Surveillance in America (Berkeley: University of California Press).

3/4 forthcoming, "The Declining Significance of Traditional Borders (and the Appearance of New Borders) in An Age of High Technology" Intelligent Environments, vol. 1, no. 1.

G. Marx and M. Morton, "Police and Minorities in England," International Annals of Criminology, vol. 17, 1978.

New York Times, September 5, 1994.

E. Nadelmann, 1993, Cops Across Borders, (University Park: The Pennsylvannia State University Press).

Newsweek, December 12, 1994.

N. Passas and R. Groskin, "International Undercover Investigations" in C. Fijnaut and G. Marx, 1995, Undercover: Police Surveillance in Comparative Perspective (The Hague: Kluwer).

Select Committe to Study Governmental Opertions With Respect to Intelligence FInal Report, 1976 Bks. 1-6 (Washington D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office).

C. Stoll, 1989 The Cuckoo's Egg: Tracking a Spy Through the Maze of Computer Espionage (New York: Doubleday).

S. Turner, 1991, Fall "Intelligence for a New World Order", Foreign Affairs, pp. 150-166.

U.S. News and World Report, January 23, 1995.

L. Van Outrive and J. Cappelle, "Twenty Years of Undercover Policing in Belgium: The Regulation of a Risky Police Practice" in C. Fijnaut and G. Marx, Undercover: Police Surveillance in Comparative Perspective (The Hague: Kluwer).

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