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International Trends in the Facilitation of Witness Co-Operation in Organized Crime Cases

NCJ Number
European Journal of Criminology Volume: 3 Issue: 3 Dated: July 2006 Pages: 319-355
Nicholas Fyfe; James Sheptycki
Date Published
July 2006
37 pages
This article presents a literature review on the facilitation of witness cooperation in North American and European countries, particularly in terms of organized crime cases.
Overall, the research review and analysis indicate that the techniques used in different countries to gain witness cooperation present moral questions and that their effectiveness has not been empirically validated. The authors examine the experiences with witness cooperation techniques in the United States, Italy, Germany, and Ireland before concluding that the use of various techniques to gain witness cooperation are likely here to stay despite their questionable effectiveness and ethical value. It is recommended that such measures be used only in the context of strong laws that ensure high ethical standards. Witnesses to crimes are often pivotal components of an effective criminal case, particularly in organized crime cases where witnesses may offer the only evidence. Gaining their cooperation has thus become one of the key objectives of criminal justice systems around the world and a number of countries have developed measures to help persuade witness cooperation in cases where they may be reluctant. Measures used in different countries vary widely in terms of their scope and in terms of the individuals and agencies involved. The analysis provides a comparison of the development of these different measures or techniques to gain witness cooperation, including plea-bargaining, witness immunity, and accomplice and undercover police testimony. The effectiveness and ethical value of these measures, particularly in terms of facilitating witness cooperation in organized crime investigations, has become one of the key questions in countries that utilize these techniques. Tables, footnotes, references