Concepts of Green Criminology and Environmental Crime


23 Mar 2015 11 Dec 2017

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The fast social, technological, political and environmental development of the world we live in is almost beyond comprehension. All these changes have created growing demands for goods and services that cannot be supplied anymore by the ordinary economy and business services, but the criminal economy must jump in. Furthermore, new mobility has increased trade, tourism, expansion of the scientific and cultural cooperation and much more. Borders are turning pale and becoming insignificant. Everything has gone to the undreamed-of rate. But unfortunately at the same time all this progress has caused war, pice, and crime of unprecedented proportion (Moore and Fields, 2005).

Environmental crime represents one of such (inter)national problem that is growing very fast and wide and as stressed by Fields, Arrigo and Webb (2005), these crime problems are highly complex in relation to those with whom criminologists were used to deal with, as it will be shown below. Comparative criminology refers to the systematic and theoretically-informed comparison of criminality (crime and crime trends) in two or more countries (Howard, Newman and Pridemore, 2010). Comparative studies are very important for criminology, because they offer great potential for increasing the explanatory power of criminological theories. [1] Furthermore, comparative criminal justice studies reduce the enormous differences between crime rates among different countries. [2] Although many authors (Shelley, 1981; Rokaw, Mercy and Smith, 1990; Hans-Gunther, Shelley and Kaoth, 1992) in the field of comparative criminal justice surveys assume that the goal of comparative criminology is simply to test whether claims about crime causation stand up in the rich texture of cultural variation, Beirne and Nelken (1997) stress that the scope of comparative criminology is wider than the search for the causes of crime. It includes the study of transnational crime, the problems of exporting models of crime control to other countries and the way the views of criminologists are themselves influenced by their cultures in the search of explanations of crime. Furthermore, Bennett and Lynch (1990: 153) state that cross-national studies of crime (criminal justice) issues play an important role in building theory and guiding public policy. The last one more and more often relies on the scientific survey results and findings, with the intention of bringing the right decision about the public related crime problems.

Neuman and Berger (1998: 300-301) argue that comparative criminology is plagued by a hiatus between theory and research. Therefore, the different levels of theoretical explanations need to be explored with data that simultaneously employ variables at the contextual and individual levels. Quantitative studies must be complemented by in-depth historical research in order to examine the specific processes occurring within nations. Quantitative cross-national studies with aggregate data are appropriate to evaluate alternative perspectives but it is important to be explicit about the 'methatheoretical' assumptions underlying such research. Beirne and Messeschmidt (1995) warn that if mentioned conditions are not fulfilled, studies will proliferate with exercises of verification and falsification of numerous middle-range theories without a cumulative development of theoretical knowledge.

As pointed out by MeÅ¡ko (2008: 31), the issues about the movement of crime and crime policies between countries and cultures and comparison between countries are important. According to this it is important who are the carriers of these changes and comparisons, and furthermore the transfer of knowledge, ideas and concepts itself and their understanding and implementation in a society. The purpose of comparative studies of crime and criminal justice is to know the impact of cultural, political, economic and other effects on the differences in attitudes towards crime, law enforcement response to violations of laws - crime and criminality. [3] The comparative criminology enables all this. Different authors (Beirne and Hill, 1991, Fields and Moore, 1996; Wardak and Sheptycki, 2005, Reichel, 2008) define comparative criminology as the systematic study of crime, law and social supervision in two or more cultures, noting that this aspect of criminology has been neglected in the past. Comparative criminology with the support in the criminal justice system and studies allows a comparison of crime and related phenomena between two or more countries. By applying this method, criminologists try to identify the similarities and differences in crime patterns between different cultures. Ideally, it would be necessary to test the theory in as many different possible conditions. Howard and Newman (2001) stressed that in the last decade criminologists realized that the majority of the existing criminal legal theories are limited only to a few western countries. In the last period this situation is slowly changing, as the criminologists, faced with rising crime rates, felt a strong need to share and exchange the experiences and learn from each other. Reichel (2008: 30) points out that at doing the comparisons between countries one needs to focus on the changing crime rates and provide a unified definition, reporting and recording or keeping of crime statistics; otherwise the results are not representative, valid and useful. Although many theoretical, methodological, and philosophical problems certainly have dogged comparative criminology since its inception, Howard, Newman and Pridemore (2010) stress that this field of investigation is currently in a state of rapid expansion.

Beirne (1983) warns that any serious comparative analysis of crime must confront the reliability of information about crime rates and victimization. Like all cross-cultural analyses, comparative criminology is beset with difficulties about what to compare, how and for what purpose. Promise and the perils of comparative criminology are everything but negligible, because this form of criminological research faces additional obstacles of problems, which all social explanations face. Because the definition of crime is conventional and because it depends on differences between systems of criminal justice, the technical and conceptual obstacles to comparing crime rates and explaining the causes of criminal behavior comparatively are definitely serious. And over and over again, new questions spring up, such as: Is the meaning of criminal behavior constant across different legal systems and cultures? How far can we risk explanations of environmental crime, which avoid reference to meaning? How much reliability should we attach to crime data from different societies that are gathered by the police or by victimization surveys? etc.

In 1987 Michalowski and Kramer conducted a comparative criminal justice (criminological) study in the field of environmental crime. Back in 1980s they noticed the significant expansion of transnational corporations in the Third World. Because in many developing nations legal control over corporate violations against the environment did not grow commensurately these corporations engaged legally in a variety of injurious actions that would have been recognized as violations of criminal regulatory, or civil law in their home countries. According to Michalowski and Kramer (1987) the differences in the laws of home/countries of origin and host countries, and the ability of transnational corporations to influence the legal climate in the host countries renders the laws derived at the level of nation-states an unsatisfactory basis for determining the scope of criminological research on transnational corporate (environmental) crime. [4] Similar cases of 'expansions' are known also in Europe, in Eastern Europe (Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine etc.) and in the Balkan Region (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, Kosovo etc.). Some West European and other foreign corporations moved most of their production to these developing countries with the reason of reasonable production costs, although the second (hidden) reason for such decision was and still is less restricted environmental protection legislation. [5] 

Bennett and Lynch (1990: 176) made an analysis of cross-national crime indicators and ascertained that the particular use, to which data are put, will affect the comparability and reliability of the descriptive statistics generated. In this respect they add that for surveys focused on aggregated description or the explanation of variance in crime across nations (except homicide) and/or across time, the choice of data set need to be determined by the relative reliability of the data (e.g. diversity of included nations; the accessibility of the data; timelines and completeness of the information). Furthermore, Beirne and Lynch (1990) warn that Interpol data sets are deficient and unreliable and therefore not appropriate for comparative cross-national surveys. When talking about the international data sets it needs to be added that one has to be careful when using data from different international organizations' data sets, such as United Nations, World Health Organization, Interpol, Europol etc., because they can distinguish very much. On the other side, as stated by Benne and Lynch (1990: 178), dedicated data collection systems, such as victimization surveys, offer greater potential for providing the data needed for descriptive cross-sectional research purposes. The best example of comparative cross-national survey is the International Crime Survey (ICS), where methodology in all participating countries is equal, which means that results of conducted comparisons are reliable and useful.

Howard, Newman and Pridemore (2010) attribute several goals of comparative research in criminology, from which some are obvious applications of the traditional canons of the scientific method, and some are unique to the study of crime in an international setting. According to authors, these goals of comparative criminological research are: extending theories beyond cultural and national boundaries; assessing the performance of national criminal justice systems; evaluating national criminal justice policy; coordinating the fight against transnational crime and reasonable critique. Mainly comparative criminology attends to understanding criminal and deviant behavior. If the crime survey is manifested globally, comparative criminological studies will provide useful insights into the control of antisocial activity. [6] Furthermore, it is inevitable that the criminological study intersects with the field of criminal justice.

For Howard, Newman and Pridemore (2010), comparative criminological surveys are important because of five essential reasons, because they represent and allow: theoretical development and testing; advance comparative analysis; data explosion; policy development; and globalization and comparative studies of crime and criminal justice. When conducting comparative criminological research, academicians can use different methodology and research tools. It actually depends on the nature of research. Howard, Newman and Pridemore (2010) divide the methodology used in comparative criminological surveys into two groups. The first group includes surveys of comparative research that examine specific substantive issues of crime (e.g. violent crime, property crime, national crimes with international implications such as genocide, domestic violence, transnational crime), where crime represents a dependent variable. The second group includes the general types of studies (e.g. metalevel studies (victimization surveys), parallel studies (crime rate/criminal justice system analysis; topical comparison; replication of an experimental design), and case studies) normally undertaken by comparative criminologists.

Meško (2008b: 31) emphasizes that comparisons between countries in the form of comparative criminological surveys are important, especially in the field of environmental criminality. Next to the comparison of crime data sets, the transfer of knowledge, ideas and concepts itself and their understanding and implementation in a society can be crucial. For this reason, the main aim of comparative criminological surveys of crimes against the environment is to know the impact of cultural, political, economic and other impacts on the differences in attitudes towards environmental crime, law enforcement response to environmental violations and the overcoming of obstacles posed by the lack of relevant knowledge in countries, where green criminology is developing. Comparative criminology enables all this and for this reason it should be more often used in comparisons of environmental crime forms, green criminology findings and environmental justice responses between two or more countries.

At the beginning of their discussion about the meaning and importance of the comparative criminological study Howard, Newman and Pridemore (2010) assert that with the growth of international 'transparency' and the capacity of the World Wide Web to disseminate information, data about crime and justice around the world are more accessible than ever. The data about environmental crime are no exception (more and more information about environmental harm and environmental damage and degradation is published on the world web by non-governmental organizations and accessible to everyone).

2.1 Environmental crime in comparative criminological and criminal justice surveys

Environmental crime is every temporary or permanent legally defined deviant act or resigned activity, which causes an artificial change, worsening, burdening, degeneration or destruction of (human) environment or breaking its natural changes. The perpetrator could be anyone or every one of us (corporations, companies, groups, individuals, etc).

White (2009: 1) stresses that for many people and experts the term environmental crime is best described not in terms of 'legality' but in terms of new concepts of environmental justice. For him, environmental harm can be conceptualized in the aspect of three broad approaches to the understanding of environmental issues: conventional criminology [7] , ecological perspectives [8] and green criminology. [9] For White (2008), environmental crime is harm against the environment that is being perpetrated across the earth, although its intensity and form varies depending upon specific regions and specific populations. His definition of environmental crime seems more or less logical, although is hard to RAZDELITI and use in comparative criminological or/and criminal justice survey.

The definition of environmental crime should be simple, clear and understandable. Only that way the definition could be broadly acceptable (unified) and possible to use for the purpose of comparative studies. In this respect, Clifford and Edwards (1998) warn that an extremely broad definition is not useful for purposes of analysis, because everything can be included in it. Clifford and Edwards suggest that one of the objectives of defining environmental crime is to make reasonable comparisons possible and for this reason the definition has to be so broad as to preclude meaningful distinctions. And something else is definitely true, more researchers and experts know about the environmental crime, the more surveys they conduct, the better their suggested concept (definition) of environmental crime will be.

After analyzing the sociological (criminological), philosophical and legal concept of environmental crime, Clifford and Edwards (1998: 25) offered their definition of environmental crime: "An environmental crime is an act in violation of an environmental protection statue that applies to the area in which the act occurred and that has already indentified criminal sanctions for purposes of police enforcement." To make their definition easier to understand, Clifford and Edwards (1998: 26) divided it into two parts. The first part defines the term environmental crime from the philosophical aspect: "Environmental crime is an act committed with the intent to harm or with a potential to cause harm to ecological and/or biological systems and for the purpose of securing business or personal advantage." The second definition, arising from the legal aspect, states that "an environmental crime is any act that violates an environmental protection statute." With the use of such definitions of environmental crime the execution of comparative criminological and criminal justice studies is possible and achievable.

When talking about environmental crime, we talk about very different phenomena, which are very hard to be gathered in a single universal definition. Environmental crime as such is more or less new and still an unknown form of crime and in some aspects a different form of crime as criminologists, researchers and other experts are used to (classic crime). [10] When dealing with environmental crime and performing (comparative) criminological or criminal justice studies man has to be aware of the following most often and important particularities of the environmental criminality:

Environmental crime is very diverse all around the world, between countries and between regions (it is inherent to each individual, the economic system, environmental and biological systems, etc.).

The problem of the agreed definition of the term "environmental crime" is still causing problems. One of them is a unified comprehension of the term environmental crime in comparative studies. Because of the lack of adjusted terminology and of a united internationally acknowledged definition, problems on all other levels of discussion, punishment and prevention of environmental crime are appearing. [11] 

Environmental crime is related to the technical development and progress; therefore new forms of environmental criminality are continually produced. Never ending changes to already present forms of environmental crime show themselves in extension and represent the need for constant monitoring, supplementing and changing of the already existing divisions or forming new ones. [12] 

Environmental crime is specific on one hand because of the perpetrators (offenders), their motives and the chosen modus operandi, and on the other hand because of special features of two different victims. Environmental crime acts usually do not affect human victims directly, as it happens in classical forms of criminality. In this case the first victim of a criminal act of environmental crime is the environment, which afterwards threatens the humans (poisoned water sources, toxic gas release, polluted soil, etc.).

The narrow research of the whole field of environmental criminality and lack of different ways of research of environmental crime clearly show the need to extend the methodological approaches in criminological studies of environmental crime. Besides supplementing and verification of different comprehensions, the need for alternative approaches to research modern forms of environmental threats also expresses itself, because with human development and modern progress the forms and offenders of environmental crimes are changing.

Green criminology has to recognize the lack of specific knowledge (especially natural sciences knowledge), which are essential for effective dealing with deviations against the environment. In this respect, the relations between various disciplines that need to be defined and framed are important. Furthermore, the field of environmental criminality demands a multidisciplinary approach.

In the field of ecology, better to say environmental justice, the boundaries between licit and illicit (legal and illegal) are often vague (circumvention of the environmental threats to the legal order of the country). Sometimes the (inter)national environmental law is an imperfect system for the protection of the environment, because it is sometimes too broad and vague, or it depends on national interests elsewhere.

Inseparable connection of environmental crime with the society and the way of life make the effort of the active criminological researching of environmental crime and finding more effective supervision systems and methods for preventing environmental crime even harder. In the front is the problem of defining the relation man - environment (offender - powerless victim). [13] 

More and more attention is drawn into the relation environment - safety. Such condition also reflects itself in numerous countries, which try hard to cooperate more intensively in the field of environmental protection on the international level. The need for adequate measures and a more structural and planned approach to such problems and responses to it is growing.

All of the above listed characteristics of environmental criminality are very important. They define environmental crime as such and must be taken into account when carrying out green criminological research or analysis. Furthermore, the characteristics must not be ignored when performing comparative criminological surveys; otherwise the results may be incorrect and misleading. One of such example is the use of ICS results in environmental crime comparative criminological survey, because the victims of environmental crime, caused harm and consequences, are still mostly unknown, therefore the conclusions based on a small number of victims' reports could be misleading. Furthermore, different forms of environmental crime (e.g. crimes against air, water, soil, etc.) cause different damage and consequences, have different victims and even can be hidden for decades.

For better understanding of what exactly environmental crime is, what is punishable, how violence is punished, why it comes to violence and who are the victims of environmental crime, we first need to define the basic terms. The answers to the following questions who committed crime, why he committed it and how the crime is committed against the environment, are expected to be explained by criminology with a good reason. Green criminology has developed as a branch of a science about criminal acts and their perpetrators, which researches the forms of deviant behavior and investigates the causes of such behavior, describes such phenomena and observes them in their development. After all, criminology is not legal, but empirical science, which uses comprehensions of empirical researches and results of the experience. As such, green criminology, can and is using comparative studies to understand and be able to explain environmental crime more detailed and accurately.

The comparative criminological and criminal justice studies of environmental crime are very rare due the several reasons. The most important is the unknown, inadequately defined and poorly researched field of environmental criminality all over the globe. Despite that, the importance and the benefits of comparative criminological studies are very important for the further development of the environmental crime field and green criminology as mainstream social science dealing with environmental issues.

The scope of comparative green criminology and criminal justice is wider than the search for the causes of environmental crime, as already mentioned by Beirne and Nelken (1997). For this reason it includes the study of transnational environmental crime, the problems of exporting models of environmental crime control to other countries and the way the views of green criminologists are themselves influenced by their cultures in the search of explanations of environmental crime. When conducting a comparative study of environmental crime one has to be aware that the purpose of comparative studies of crime is to know the impact of cultural, political, economic and other impacts on the differences in attitudes towards environmental crime, law enforcement response to violations of environmental protection laws - environmental crime and environmental criminality. The use of comparative criminological and criminal justice studies in the field of environmental crime is very important, because it enables a comparison of environmental crime and related phenomena, such as environmental degradation and destruction, between two, three or more countries. Furthermore, green criminologists try to identify the similarities and differences in the environmental crime patterns between different cultures with the application of this method. Furthermore, they use them to understand and explain the causes for committing environmental crimes.

Comparative criminological and criminal justice surveys of environmental crime are important because of five essential reasons, stressed by Howard, Newman and Pridemore (2010: STRAN). They represent and allow: a) theoretical development and testing of criminological theories in the field of environmental criminality and green criminology; b) advance comparative environmental crime analysis; c) environmental crime data explosion; d) (environmental) crime policy development; and e) globalization and comparative studies of environmental crime and criminal justice. What is more, the purpose of such studies is to know the impact of cultural, political, economic and other impacts on the differences in attitudes towards crime, law enforcement response to violations of laws - crime and criminality. The comparative criminology enables all this and for this reason it should be more often used in comparisons of environmental crime forms, green criminology findings and environmental justice responses between two or more countries.

Similar to Slovenia, some countries have typical characteristics in existent phenomenal forms of environmental crime, as well as by offenders of the environmental crime. For this reason the comparison should be set on a common basis, which is widely accepted all over the world. Comparative criminology could be for example used in a survey that would originate from Sutherland's (1939; in Sutherland and Cressey, 1974) definition of criminology. [14] By combining different research methods, it is possible to explain the problem of extension and destructive power of environmental crime on one hand and on the other unconsciousness of noxiousness and its influence on the environment, human and his life. The environmental topic and the research approach are relevant for Slovenian science and also for work of green criminology and competent authorities, because they represent an exact analysis of discourse of environmental crime in the country and worldwide. The practicability of this approach shows itself in offering the results and comprehensions that could be the basis of activities to protect the society from environmental crime.

Comparative criminological studies are very important for further development of green criminology and the gathering of additional knowledge about the environmental crime. The desired objectives of such a survey are often an understanding of criminal and deviant behavior against the environment in the chosen country and assessing the performance of the national criminal justice system. The transfer of knowledge about environmental criminality remains the main aim of the comparative criminological survey. Furthermore, comparative green criminological and criminal justice studies enable a comparison of environmental crime and related phenomena between compared countries, and help green criminologists identify similarities and differences in environmental crime patterns, and understand and explain the causes for and consequences of environmental crimes.


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