The ECPR Standing Group on Organised Crime (SGOC) was set up after a successful ECPR workshop entitled Organised Crime and the Challenge to Democracy at the Joint Sessions in Grenoble, France, in 2001. This workshop, which was attended by 10 academics from across Europe and whose discussions were later published in the edited volume of the same name (by F. Allum and R. Siebert, London: Routledge, 2003), demonstrated that there was a need for multidisciplinary, cross-country, academic-practitioner discussions and analyses. From this initial workshop, various projects were discussed and launched: in particular, a permanent Standing Group with an electronic newsletter and a website was established.
The newsletter has been published online since 2002 with some enthusiastic editors who produced some interesting outputs on topics such as “women and organised crime” and “organised crime in the Asian Pacific”. In 2005, a blog dedicated to organised crime was set up by Ludo Block (it is now run by Bill Tupman) in order to enable quick access to stories and information about organised crime, whether that be in the media or news of academic conferences.
Between 2001 and 2004, the SGOC sought to find its identity, its voice, and new members from different sectors. The SGOC next met in Marburg, Germany, in September in 2004 at the ECPR 2nd General Conference where it organised a section entitled Organised Crime, Politics and the State and again in September 2007 in Pisa, Italy, where it organised the section Organised Crime defying the State which was published in the form of an edited volume (Defining and Defying Organised Crime. Discourse, Perceptions and Reality by F.Allum, F.Longo, D.Irrera, and P.A. Kostakos, London: Routledge, 2010).
The main objectives of these conferences were to discuss the latest research on organise crime and to give life to the SGOC and its members. From both these points of view, we can say that the conferences were a success. Indeed, on each occasion, these meetings have been an opportunity for the group to meet, to exchange ideas, to discuss projects, to clarify new findings, to make new comparisons, to meet new members, and to socialise. The meeting in Pisa in 2007 proved to be an important turning point not only because there were more panels than ever but also because at this conference it was decided for the SGOC to organise its very own summer schools, no small feat.
In between 2009-2011, the SGOC organised three Summer Schools that took place in Catania, Italy, Leuven, Belgium, and Ohrid, Macedonia. Funded by the ECPR and the European Commission, and with a lot of hard work by Francesca Longo, Daniela Irrera, Letizia Paoli, and Jana Arsovska, these summer schools were very successful. They allowed a new generation of researchers and practitioners to engage with the topic of organised crime from a variety of different perspectives, disciplines, and nationalities. These summer schools also bought new blood to the SGOC. A Facebook group was set up in Ohrid (Summer 2011) by Bill Tupman and Alice Tregunna. It was intended to be a less cumbersome version of the blog and to provide an informal and partecipative way for people to keep in touch.
Since 2012, the SGOC has been discussing many different projects. With a meeting in London in October 2012 the Steering Committee was renewed and new strategies were discussed.
The new SGOC constitution was approved at the ECPR General Conference in Bordeaux, September 2013, where the SGOC organised the section Transnational Organised Crime in a Globalised World.
The future looks bright!