Vol. 76, No. 3On the leading edge

Latest research in law enforcement

Random breath testing involves the random stopping of drivers for the purpose of breath testing for alcohol impairment.

The following are excerpts from recent research related to justice and law enforcement and reflect the views and opinions of the authors and not necessarily those of the organizations for which they work. To access the full reports, please visit the website links at the bottom of each summary.

Health impact of violent victimization on women and their children

By Nadine Wathen

Violence against women and children is a pervasive social problem in Canada, with significant impacts on a broad range of social and economic outcomes for women, children, families and communities. This report examines the consequences of intimate partner violence (IPV) against women, and children witnessing IPV, emphasizing their association with specific physical and mental health outcomes, included health-related quality of life and health-risk behaviours, where available.

IPV is defined as physical violence, sexual violence or emotional or financial abuse between current or former married or common-law spouses.

Many Canadian studies, including national and population-based surveys, as well as large-sample research studies in different settings have shown a fairly consistent pattern in demographic and relationship- and partner-specific indicators associated with IPV, including: being young, being in a common-law relationship or being separated; substance abuse by, or unemployment or under-employment in, male partners; and controlling behaviours on the part of male partners. In addition, witnessing violence in childhood raises the risk of both victimization and perpetration of partner violence.

While there are significant physical health consequences of violence against women and children, much of the burden of suffering arising from violence exposures manifests itself in acute and chronic mental health conditions. The key disorders associated with violence include depression and anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance use disorders and somatic disorders.

IPV has also been linked to a number of other physical health outcomes, including those related to reproductive health and chronic and infectious diseases, as well as gynecological disorders, sexually transmitted diseases, unsafe abortion and unwanted pregnancy.

Many of the mental and physical health consequences of sexual assault by non-partners mirror those described above, with the significant difference being the generally acute nature of sexual assault, when compared to the more chronic nature of IPV, which often takes multiple forms of physical, sexual and psychological abuse and control.

Adverse outcomes that result from witnessing IPV in childhood include an increased risk of psychological, social, emotional and behavioural problems, including mood and anxiety disorders, drug abuse and school-related problems in children and adolescents. These negative effects may continue into adulthood and become part of an intergenerational cycle of violence.

Exposure to child sexual abuse is associated with impairment in a broad range of domains, including mental and physical health, education, criminal behaviour and interpersonal functioning, and overlap exists across these domains.

While physical injuries and death form an important sub-set of the health impacts of violence, the more prevalent consequences are longer-term mental health problems, which in turn contribute to health risks as well as increasing the likelihood of being a violent offender or being re-victimized at a later point in time.

To access the full report, please visit: www.justice.gc.ca.

Markets for cybercrime tools and stolen data: Hacker's bazaar

By Lillian Ablon, Martin C. Libicki and Andrea A. Golay

Criminal activities in cyberspace are increasingly facilitated by burgeoning black markets for both tools (e.g., exploit kits) and take (e.g., credit card information).

This report describes the fundamental characteristics of these markets and how they have grown into their current state to explain how their existence can harm the information security environment. Understanding the current and predicted landscape for these markets lays the groundwork for follow-on exploration of options to minimize the potentially harmful influence these markets impart.

Experts agree that the coming years will bring more activity in darknets, more use of crypto-currencies, greater anonymity capabilities in malware, and more attention to encrypting and protecting communications and transactions; that the ability to stage cyberattacks will likely outpace the ability to defend against them; that crime will increasingly have a networked or cyber component, creating a wider range of opportunities for black markets; and that there will be more hacking for hire, as-a-service offerings, and brokers.

Experts disagree, however, on who will be most affected by the growth of the black market (small or large businesses, individuals), what products will be on the rise (fungible goods, such as data records and credit card information; non-fungible goods, such as intellectual property), or which types of attacks will be most prevalent (persistent, targeted attacks; opportunistic, mass "smash-and-grab" attacks).

Key findings

  • The cyber black market has evolved into a network of highly organized groups, often connected with traditional crime groups and nation-states;
  • It doesn't differ much from a traditional market or other typical criminal enterprises; participants communicate through various channels, place their orders and get products;
  • Its evolution mirrors the normal evolution of markets with both innovation and growth;
  • For many, the cyber black market can be more profitable than the illegal drug trade;
  • As suspicion and "paranoia" spike because of an increase in recent takedowns, more transactions move to darknets and greater encryption, obfuscation and anonymization techniques are employed, restricting access to the most sophisticated parts of the black market;
  • Law enforcement efforts are improving as more individuals are technologically savvy; suspects are going after bigger targets, and thus are attracting more attention; and more crimes involve a digital component, giving law enforcement more opportunities to encounter crime in cyberspace;
  • Still, the cyber black market remains resilient and is growing at an accelerated pace, continually getting more creative and innovative as defences get stronger, law enforcement gets more sophisticated, and new exploitable technologies and connections appear in the world.

To access the full report, please visit: www.rand.org.

Effective drink driving prevention and enforcement strategies: Approaches to improving practise

By Kiptoo Terer and Rick Brown

Drink driving continues to be a concern in Australia, with a significant proportion of the population reporting such behaviour. It's one of the main causes of road fatalities and injuries, responsible for 30 per cent of fatalities and nine per cent of serious road injuries in Australia.

This paper reviews factors associated with the effectiveness of drink driving countermeasures aimed at the general population and recidivist drink drivers. The review encompasses four key aspects of drink driving enforcement and prevention — random breath testing (RBT), publicity campaigns, drink driving penalties and targeted interventions with the aim to focus attention on how existing practise can be improved to achieve a greater impact.

Random breath testing

RBT is a leading drink driving countermeasure that's been shown to reduce blood alcohol content (BAC) levels and harms associated with drink driving. It involves the random stopping of drivers for the purpose of breath testing for alcohol impairment. RBT is intended to increase the perceived risk of detection as a result of the uncertainty of being stopped, derived from the randomness of the measure.

Unlike static RBT checkpoints, mobile RBT units can be discretionary and can be used to breath test specific drivers who draw police attention. These mobile units tend to have higher detection rates of drink drivers compared with static RBT checkpoints.

Studies have shown that RBT operations during high alcohol hours can be effective at decreasing drink driving and related road trauma, but these operations should still appear to be unpredictable.

Publicity campaigns

Publicity campaigns are used to create awareness and educate the public about drink driving and RBT operations. They also play an important role in creating and sustaining deterrence.

It was noted that media campaigns highlighting the probability of detection and severity of legal sanctions were more likely to influence individual behaviour, while media campaigns highlighting the harm caused by drink driving were more likely to increase community support for measures such as RBT and other drink driving countermeasures.

Drink driving penalties

It's widely agreed drink driving penalties should involve fines and licence disqualification/suspension. However, road safety research suggests harsher penalties have minimal impact on driver behaviour particularly when the probability of detection among drivers remains unchanged.

A study concluded that increased penalties would have been more effective if combined with improved drink driving enforcement and importantly, a consistent application of licence disqualification.

Most studies indicate imprisonment is costly and ineffective at reducing drink driving.

Targeted interventions

Largely targeted at high BAC and recidivist drink drivers, rehabilitation programs emerged due to a need for less costly and more effective alternatives to imprisonment. They aim to separate drinking and driving by involving drink drivers in education programs to improve knowledge and attitudes, and involving those identified with alcohol disorders in alcohol therapy programs. Evaluations suggest rehabilitation programs can improve drink drivers' attitudes and decrease recidivism.

Ignition interlocks are primarily aimed at high-BAC and recidivist drink drivers. They've been shown to be highly effective at preventing drink driving while they are installed, but drink driving behaviour tends to return when they are removed, and because of the cost, the use of ignition locks has been relatively limited.

To access the full report, please visit: www.aic.gov.au.

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