• Home
  • Law
  • How does the Australian criminal justice system respond to ONE of the forms of crime addressed in the last part of the course/unit? What are the strengths and weaknesses of this response? Crimes addressed include white collar and corporate crime, organise

How does the Australian criminal justice system respond to ONE of the forms of crime addressed in the last part of the course/unit? What are the strengths and weaknesses of this response? Crimes addressed include white collar and corporate crime, organise Essay Example

  • Category:
  • Document type:
  • Level:
  • Page:
  • Words:

Australian Criminal Justice System


It is the role of the criminal system of justice to deal with and prevent crime relating to illicit drugs and violence, human trafficking, sex exploitation, white collar and corporate crime, as well as organized crime (Glanfield, n.d, p.21). The criminal justice system in Australia is comprised of the state/territory as well as Australian government agencies, departments, institution and officials mandated to respond and deal with victims of criminal activities, and individuals or groups of individual accused/convicted of criminal activities. The eight states and territories of Australia have powers to enact their own criminal legislations or laws while the Commonwealth of Australia can also enact laws and sanctions against criminal offences. As such there are nine distinct systems of criminal justice systems in Australia (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2008, p.402). Australian Institute of Criminology (2004, p.6) notes that organized crime is a significant problem in Australia dating back to the early 1970s. There was increased concern and attention due to the increasing growth of such activity in the late 1970s and 1980s. The purpose of this paper is to investigate how the Australian criminal justice system responds to organised crime and examine the strengths and weaknesses of this response.

Organized Crime in Australia

Organized crime in Australia is a network or groups of individuals/criminals who engage in criminal activities in an ongoing capacity. Organized crimes in Australia is characterised by criminal enterprises and entities that plan and organize criminal activities within the country. Article 2 of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime defines organized crime asa structured group of three or more persons, existing for a period of time and acting in concert with the aim of committing one or more serious crimes or offences established in accordance with this convention, in order to obtain, directly or indirectly, a financial or other material benefit.The same article reiterates that a serious crime is conduct constituting an offence punishable by a maximum deprivation of liberty of at least four years or a more serious penalty; whereas structured group is a group that is not randomly formed for the immediate commission of an offence and that does not need to have formally defined roles for its members, continuity of its membership or a developed structure(Australian Institute of Criminology, 2004, p.6).

According to Australian Institute of Criminology (2004, p.6), organized crime in Australia is characterised by a combination of three phenomena. First, local criminal milieus which are loosely structured criminal groups perpetrating illegal enterprises. Second, secret societies or networks based in other countries, but with links to local criminal networks in Australia with whom there is shared ethnic background. Finally, organized crime in Australia is as characterised by other groups of criminals like paedophile networks as well as outlaw motorcycle gangs. In the last couple of decades there have been significant changes in the trends of organized crimes in Australia. The changing trends have mirrored patterns of crime associated with North America and Europe. Organized crime in the recent past in Australia include criminal activities such as people smuggling, juvenile gangs, serious economic crime, illicit drug trafficking, trafficking of women and children for sexual exploitation, and high tech crime among others (Australian Institute of Criminology, 2004, p.6 and 7).

Criminal Law and Criminal Justice System in Australia

Laws especially criminal laws come form consensus. This because they are significant reflection of particular values held by a society in which such laws exist and stem from. According to Thomas, Cage and Foster (1976), laws can be regarded as formalized rules which reflect a body of principles and aimed at prescribing or limiting actions or behaviours of individuals. In this regard, crime is regarded as a wrongful activity, action or rather behaviour against a society proclaimed by laws. Criminal laws form the basic framework for the criminal system of justice and are categorized as either procedural law or criminal law (Van Dervort, 2000). There are two models of criminal justice which seek to explain the origin of laws, as well as how the criminal system of justice should operate with regard to response to crime relating to illicit drugs and violence, white collar and corporate crime, as well as organized crime. These are the consensus model and the conflict model of criminal justice (Thomas, Cage and Foster, 1976).

Criminal offenders whether juveniles or adults, are processed in the juvenile justice system and criminal justice system respectively. These justice systems are constituted by an integrated network of institutions, agencies, as well as organizations. The criminal justice system is made up of a network of law enforcement agencies; courts and corrections (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2002, p.27 and 28). The functions of law enforcement agencies is to maintenance of law and order; fight crime by arresting and detaining crime suspects; traffic control; and searching and collection crime evidence; as well as addressing neighbourhood concerns and social problems such as giving direction to motorists, finding children who are lost, referral of people to social agencies, and transporting sick people and victims of accidents to hospitals among others. The courts, other than assuring law and order, are also guardians of the US constitution. Corrections include detention facilities and jails which are holding facilities for those awaiting trial or transfer and for rehabilitating offenders respectively (Samaha, 2006). Figure 1 below represents the criminal justice system in Australia depicting the justice process as well as the agencies involved.

How does the Australian criminal justice system respond to ONE of the forms of crime addressed in the last part of the course/unit? What are the strengths and weaknesses of this response? Crimes addressed include white collar and corporate crime, organise

Figure 1: Australian criminal justice system

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2002, p.28

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (2008, p.402), each of the eight states and territories of Australia has their own police, courts and correctional services system which respond to various criminal activities such as organized crime. The federal criminal justice on the other hand deals with criminal offences against federal laws. As such, criminal law in Australia is administered primarily via the federal, state and territory police, courts, and corrective services

Australian Criminal Justice System Response to Organised Crime

The government of Australia adopts a multi-jurisdictional and multi-layered approach in responding to organized crime in the country and beyond. The Commonwealth of Australia is responsible for commonwealth laws and is mandated with spearheading approaches towards the prevention of organized crimes at both national and international levels, as well as organized crime at the country’s borders. The states or territories in collaboration with the Commonwealth of Australia target organized criminals, enterprises as well as entities within the borders of Australia. As such, at the core of Australia’s multi-layered approach to organized crime is partnership and collaboration. This makes the various components of the justice system interdependent and integral in nature. In addition, it enables the country’s justice, regulatory as well as law enforcement agencies at both states or territories and Commonwealth levels to respond to organized crimes in a more unified and national manner. The approach taken by the country’s justice system in response to the increasing prevalence of organized crime emphasized the significance of cross-jurisdictional collaboration, as well as information and intelligence sharing among the states or territories and the Commonwealth.

The response to organized crimes in Australia incorporates various agencies mandated to deliver demand, supply as well as harm minimization strategies. The Commonwealth criminal laws and the law enforcement mandate are geared at dealing with organized criminal activities within its powers such as corporate, financial, drug offences, as well as illicit goods crimes. Commonwealth agencies mandated to combat organized crime in Australia and beyond include: Australian Crime Commission (ACC), Department of Immigration and Citizenship, Australian Federal Police, Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions, AUSTRAC, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, CrimTrac, Centrelink, and the Australian Tax Office. These agencies exhibit a strong national presence, intelligence and operational capacities, as well as jurisdictional law enforcement relationships. Organized crimes policy within which they operate is developed by the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department (AGD). The Commonwealth of Australia acknowledges the significance of inter-country and international collaboration in responding to organized crime. As such it is s a member of the United Nation Convention against Transnational Organised Crime and a signatory to related United Nations Conventions. Australia’s national responses to organized crime are centred on five core strategies (Australian Crime Commision, 2013).

The first strategy is concerned with effective collaboration and partnerships between the various law enforcement agencies at both national and international levels. This strategy emphasizes increased sharing of intelligence and information between jurisdictions. In addition, Australia seeks increased collaboration with international partners via both existing as well as emerging networks of organized crime control. The second strategy is about fostering further sharing of intelligence and information. By building a national understanding of organized crime, Australia seeks to respond to organized crime in an informed and timely manner based on intelligence. The third strategy regards the strengthening of multi-jurisdictional approach to responding to organized crime. The measures within this strategy include minimizing barriers as well as enhancing multi-jurisdictional investigations conduct and the adoption of a more a national oriented approach to dealing with cyber crime. The fourth strategy is fostering a national response to primary elements of the organized crime environment. This strategy seeks to address the priority risks as identified by the Organised Crime Threat Assessment (OCTA) including Amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS), identity crime, and money laundering. The fifth strategy is the encouragement of public engagement and stakeholders partnerships. This strategy seeks to involve various industries and the general public (community) in preventing organized criminal activities. To achieve this strategy the Australian government through law enforcement agencies seek to improve awareness and engagement of various industries and support community initiatives in fighting organized crimes (Australian Crime Commision, 2013).

The Strengths and Weaknesses of This Response

One of the key strengths of the approach taken by Australian criminal justice system and governments in response to organized criminal activities is adaptability and flexibility. In essence, there is no underlying definition of organized crime is superior to the investigative approach adopted by law enforcement agencies in Australia. As such, there is no provision for identifying and naming of a given organized crime group prior to commencement of a low enforcement approach. The current approach adopted by the criminal justice system in Australia not only effectively targets the profit motive of organized crime groups by targeting and recovering proceeds from such activities, but also the prosecution and disruption of organized criminal activities. This is contrary to previous responses to organized crime which emphasized the prosecution and disruption of organized criminal activities only.

The current response to organized crime in Australia is characteristically based on whole-of-government approach. For instance, the approach has exhibited success with regard to people smuggling in Australia. The whole-of-government approach is exhibited by the fact that the approach is multi-jurisdictional and multi-layered in its approach to responding to organized criminal activities in Australia (Australian Institute of Criminology, 2004, p.48). on the other hand, the Australian Institute of Criminology (2004, p.7 and 8) postulates that Australia’s system of law enforcement significantly affects the investigation and prevention of organized crime. This is because each state or territory in Australia has its own distinct criminal justice system. There are no provisions for the recognition of warrants issued in one state or territory by another state or territory in Australia.


This paper has critically investigated how the Australian criminal justice system responds to organised crime. Additionally, this paper has comprehensively examined the strengths and weaknesses of this response. As an entry into the subject of this paper, a brief introduction followed by an overview of organized criminal activities in Australia has been provided. To effectively achieve the purpose of this engagement, this paper has also discussed what entails criminal law and the criminal justice system in Australia. Organized crime can be regarded as a feature of Australian life just like in other advanced industrial societies like the US. It is due to the threats that organized crime networks pose that inform decisions and operations of not only the criminal justice system, by also intelligence and political decisions. For political, financial and cultural reasons, organized crime remains not systematically addressed in all parts of the world. As such, organized crime has significant impact on countries such as Australia which seek to confront such an issue. Effective strategy approach to issues organized criminal activities is paramount for the success of the government as well as the criminal justice system in responding to organized crime.


Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2002). ABS Crime and Justice Data. In Greycar, A, and Grabosky, P.N. The Cambridge Handbook of Australian Criminology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2008). 2008 Year Book Australia: A Comprehensive Source of Information about Australia. Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Australian Crime Commission. (2013). The Response to Organized Crime in Australia. Retrieved on July 13, 2013 from: http://www.crimecommission.gov.au/publications/crime-profile-series-fact-sheet/response-to-organised-crime-australia

Australian Institute of Criminology. (2004). The Worldwide Fight against Transnational Organized Crime: Australia. Technical and Background paper No. 9. Retrieved on July 13, 2013 from: http://www.aic.gov.au/documents/b/c/9/%7Bbc9c69a2-1a88-48c1-948a-7c1eaad4e251%7Dtbp009.pdf

Glanfield, L. (N.d). Strategic Planning for Criminal Justice System. Retrieved on July 13, 2013 from: http://www.aic.gov.au/media_library/publications/proceedings/24/glanfield.pdf

Samaha, J. (2006). Criminal Justice (7th Ed.). Belmont: Thomson Wadsworth.

Thomas, C.W., Cage, R.J. and Foster, S.C. (1976). Public Opinion on Criminal Law and Legal Sanctions: An Examination of two Conceptual Models. The Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology, 67(1), 110.

Van Dervort, T.R. (2000). American Law and the Legal System: Equal Justice under the Law. Albany, NY: Delmar, Thomson Learning.