Transnational and Cross-Cultural Approaches in Undercover Police Work

Transnational and Cross-Cultural Approaches in Undercover Police Work

John Irwin (University of Guelph-Humber, Canada) and Anthony H. Normore (California State University – Dominguiez Hills, USA)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 20
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7672-3.ch023
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Undercover operatives have for decades attempted to interact with and expose criminal activity in identified criminal sub-culture groups of their same ethnic backgrounds, potential criminal participants in diverse ethnic cultural groups other than their own ethnic background, and cross-cultural groups made up of people from different ethnic groups. Through our combined professional experiences (e.g., leadership professor, undercover law enforcement, criminal justice, research, inmate instructor, ethics professors) and having lived and worked in various parts of the world (e.g., Canada, US, UK, Europe, South East and Central Asia) our chapter examines undercover police work and provides a view to cross-cultural issues that exist on both the enforcement and suspect sides of police investigation. A variety of transnational and cross-border ethical issues are examined in undercover work (e.g. trickery, entrapment) along with landmark court cases in an effort to compare and contrast international approaches to undercover operatives. Future directions concerning international collaboration are presented.
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Advancements in technology, the onset of the internet consumer markets and the European Union have all contributed to lines on national boundaries becoming more obscure. Research conducted internationally including North America, Asia, Europe and Asia-Pacific (see Hufnagel, Harfield, & Bronitt, 2011; Jenner, 2011; Lemieux, 2010) clearly indicate that police must engage in a transnational and cross-cultural approach to be effective (Andreas, 2000; European Cooperation Group on Undercover Activities, 2004; The Hague Programme 2005). Historically, a transnational crime issue is dealt with in courts on a case-by-case assessment of whether or not the law in a jurisdiction where someone is located permits the legality of extraditing a person to another jurisdiction for prosecution. Examples include United States of America v. Burns (2001) wherein Canadian undercover officers obtained confessions for a murder committed in the United States, and United States of America v. Commisso (2000) wherein an Amercian undercover officer successfully met with a Canadian drug supplier and arranged to import illicit drugs to Canada. In both cases a Court of Appeal authorized extradition of a Canadian Citizen to the United States to face prosecution based on what could be described as typical undercover operations for serious crimes.

According to research on cross-border trafficking of people, drugs and contraband (e.g., Andreas, 2002; Campbell, 2008; European Cooperation Group on Undercover Activities, 2004; Findley, 1999) there is a logical extension that undercover operations will need to be employed with a transnational view. Significant issues arise with a transnational approach including: physically moving officers from one jurisdiction to another, increased officer stress related to a transnational deep cover operation, providing cover for the officers’ safety, and ensuring the undercover operative adjusts to work within the limits set by a particular jurisdiction outside of her/his own. (Anglin, 2002; Duraković, 2010; Gribakina, 2013; Irwin, 2002; Marx & Fijnaut, 1995; Štarienė, 2009; The Hague Programme, 2005; Tinto, 2013). The significant change in process would be engaging out-of-country undercover operatives. The value in understanding the social, psychological and legal issues related to police undercover work is the ability to identify key ethical issues that underlie effective and meaningful policing mentalities, aimed at meeting the Rule of Law, regardless of the local jurisdiction or country.

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