Call for abstracts: Special Issue on Understanding the New Geographies of Organised Crime

Guest editors: Dr Ella Cockbain (UCL), Dr Patricio Estevez-Soto (UCL) and Prof Felia Allum (University of Bath)

Special issue with in-person (or hybrid) symposium in London, June 2023. Budget for travel and accommodation, thanks to funding awarded by the Economic and Social Research Council under its Transnational Organised Crime call.

Summary of the proposed special issue

Organised crime is a pressing concern for national and international policymakers and practitioners, especially in non-Western settings where it is a major threat but is under-researched. The geographies of organised crime are a promising area for improving understanding and informing more effective and ethical responses. Despite many pockets of promising work, lack of coherence is a barrier to advancing a broader research agenda.

This special issue aims to convene cutting-edge empirical research on the new geographies of organised crime to advance thinking on its different spatial dimensions and inspire more nuanced, rigorous, and innovative research and responses.

Our inclusive approach to conceptualising geography considers physical and virtual spaces, and their linkages, at different scales of analysis (micro, meso, macro). Our perspective on conceptualising organised crime is similarly broad, acknowledging that a wide range of empirical phenomena fall within its scope. The unifying thread of the special issue will be the spatial embeddedness of organised crime (what, how, when, why, who and, crucially, where?). We are particularly interested in submissions related to the following areas, as they apply to the geographies of organised crime:

  • novel sources of data (e.g. open-source datasets), and innovative uses of more traditional datasets;
  • innovative applications of more established methods (e.g. ethnography, survey-research) and promising approaches that are newer to this domain, or in general (e.g. risk terrain modelling, social network analysis, crime script analysis, natural experiments, spatial epidemiology, agent based modelling);
  • under-researched actors, networks, markets and countries (e.g. environmental crime, counterfeit goods/medicine, the interplay between physical and virtual spaces)
  • conceptual, ethical and practical challenges for analysis and intervention; and
  • innovative theory development.

We aim to showcase empirical studies focusing on diverse themes (e.g. different organised crime groups, crime types and impacts), from various regions of the world, and using sound methodological approaches (qualitative, quantitative and/or mixed methods).

We welcome high-quality contributions from researchers (including early career researchers) from any relevant discipline, for example criminology, crime science, criminal justice, public health, computer science, the built environment and geography. The special issue proposal is currently being reviewed at a leading criminology journal.

Symposium, conference and funding

On 20 June 2023, we will hold a one-day symposium at UCL for the special issue, offering a supportive and collaborative environment for participants to present drafts, discuss, and receive peer feedback. Additionally, symposium attendees will be invited to speak at the International Crime Science Conference organized by UCL on 19 June. We have funds to cover travel and accommodation expenses for one author per paper.


To be considered, please submit a structured abstract (200 words max., covering objectives, methods, results and conclusions) and a short biography (150 words max.) to all three editors:, and by 8th March 2023.

Submissions will be selected based on their relevance to theme of the special issue, originality, scientific merit, and overall contribution to the field.

If you are keen to contribute but unable to attend in person, have any concerns in relation to visa requirements, or any other questions, please contact Ella:

Key dates

  • Deadline for abstract and biography: 8th March 2023, 11pm GMT
  • Notification of decision: expected 15th March 2023
  • Early draft of paper to share with symposium: 1st June 2023
  • Conference and symposium: 19-20th June 2023
  • Submission of full manuscript (likely 8,000-10,000 words): November 2023
Patricio R Estévez-Soto
Patricio R Estévez-Soto
Lecturer in Security and Crime Science

My research is focused on crime in Latin America and the Caribbean, spanning topics such as organised crime, repeat victimisation, quantitative criminology, crime prevention, and the nexus between crime and public policy.