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Modern Maritime Piracy (From Atlas of Crime: Mapping the Criminal Landscape, P 149-152, 2000, Linda S. Turnbull, Elaine Hallisey Hendrix, eds, et al., -- See NCJ-193465

NCJ Number
George J. Demko
Date Published
4 pages
This chapter describes contemporary maritime piracy as a serious and violent crime that afflicts many areas of the world.
Piracy is any illegal act of violence or detention committed by the crew or the passengers of a private ship or aircraft. The estimated cost of contemporary maritime piracy and related maritime fraud exceeds $16 billion a year. The “golden age” of piracy was in the 17th and 18th centuries. Modern piracy has grown more daring and sophisticated, and no less violent. The number of pirate attacks has been increasing, especially since 1990 when 50 incidents were reported globally. Piracy is greatly facilitated by physical and political conditions. The region with a major concentration of piracy is the South China Sea. In a pattern that has persisted over the past 5 or 6 years, the combination of the South China Sea and the Malacca Strait results in a region where 48 percent of all piracy occurred in 1998. Types of pirate acts vary greatly. The best organized acts are ship hijackings. Small bands of pirates often attack returning fishermen and steal the crews’ valuables as well as the catch. Modern piracy includes a remarkable array of types of banditry and is extremely difficult to predict and control. The Regional Piracy Centre was created by the International Maritime Bureau and provides around-the-clock information, reports of attacks, and news about suspicious vessel movements. A number of regional seminars were organized to develop an international code for the investigation or piracy and armed robbery against ships. Since 1995, the Maritime Safety Committee has issued monthly reports of piracy incidents on a regional basis. More detailed analysis of locations of incidents and the conditions that promote and facilitate piracy are required to improve the prediction of frequency and locations of incidents and to encourage more effective deployment of resources to confront piracy. 3 figures, 12 references


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