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Published 26/10/2011 Pietschmann, T. and Walker,J. (2011) Estimating illicit financial flows resulting from drug trafficking and other transnational organized crimes, Research Report, Vienna, U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime.
Published 1/1/2010 in the Review of Law and Economics: Measuring Global Money Laundering: "The Walker Gravity Model", by John Walker and Brigitte Unger (Utrecht University School of Economics)
Finalist in the ACT Chief Minister's Export Awards, 2008, recognising my work with the Chinese People's Public Security University, the UNODC and the IMF.
Updated estimates of ML in and through Australia
John Walker's Biography
John Walker was born with an interest in numbers. After getting an economics degree from LSE in 1970, his first ten years of working life involved applying systems analytic techniques to areas as diverse as space research, transportation economics, and urban and regional planning, before turning his attention to questions of crime and justice. For those wondering how to get into a career as a criminologist, he would say that in his case it was a complete accident. Some years after using suburban crime statistics as measures of social dysfunction in an urban planning study, he was encouraged to apply for a vacancy at the Australian Institute of Criminology and discovered that that earlier statistical work was regarded highly by the Australian criminological community, which at that time was not very numerate. So, for the last 25 years, he's masqueraded as a criminologist, applying the same analytical skills to the analysis and development of state, national and international public policy in Crime Prevention and Control. In recent years he has become increasingly interested in the macro-economics of crime - particularly in modelling trans-national crime and money laundering.
As a result of applying those analytical skills, John Walker Crime Trends Analysis has been able to assist government and international agencies to plan and evaluate policy options through an understanding of the impacts of:
He has been described as a researcher who can blend "dodgy data" and "heroic assumptions" and turn them into something surprisingly useful. He is also proud to have a reputation as "the too-hard basket" - frequently being offered research projects that are too hard for others! Part of the philosophy is to understand the importance of, and implications of, feedback loops in the criminal justice system. While it has frequently been said that "nothing works" in crime prevention and reducing offending (e.g. Martinson - see http://www.prisonsucks.com/scans/rehab.html), an understanding of feedback loops in human systems suggests quite the contrary - usually anything works, but only until enough people work out the implications. For example, to prevent alcohol-related road deaths, Australia law enforcement agencies have progressively used road patrols, breath-tests at accident scenes, targeted breath-testing (e.g. outside licensed premises), and random breath-testing. The pattern is for drunk-driving to reduce substantially immediately after the implementation of the programme, but to creep up again after drinkers begin to realise how good their odds are at evading detection. Cardboard police cars, and even fake but highly-publicised holiday-period "crack-downs" (where the police actually say a lot, via the media, but actually do nothing), appear to have been just as successful at times. Putting potential offenders off-balance - so that they don't know what the risks of apprehension really are - usually works, but the minute it begins to look like routine, they will find ways around it. This will be as true for global counter-money laundering efforts as it is for local anti-drunk driving programmes.
This implies that most medium-long-term statistical analyses of crime trends - hoping to find the causes and identify solutions - are doomed to failure, because in the medium-long-term offender behaviour always modifies itself in response to the community's response to offender behaviour. It means that monitoring current trends, and recognising that future trends will not be simple repeats of the past, is absolutely essential to crime prevention and control, and you can't do that without good - and up to date - statistics. There is a trade-off between data quality and timeliness that is poorly understood both by statisticians and by justice system administrators. In fact, timeliness of data is often more important than accuracy - a fact that "real" statisticians frequently overlook in their pursuit of the perfect statistic. If the statistically-perfect data arrives on the policymaker's desk six months too late, it is a complete waste of effort. If flawed, but properly understood, data arrives on the desk in time to contribute to the analysis, the data collection may well have done its job.
These insights have contributed to a unique approach to crime trends analysis that might be the "least-worst" way to achieve understanding, but it seems to work.
John's Career Profile
Between 1979 and 1994, he worked as a research criminologist with the Australian Institute of Criminology, and developed new sources of data, including correctional statistics and the techniques of crime victims surveys, and introduced new forms of analysis linking traditional criminology to other areas of social science, such as demography and economics. It really isn't rocket science - most of the important conclusions in criminology can be identified by extremely simple statistical techniques or graphics! During these years, he was ranked by British Journal of Criminology papers amongst the 25 most cited criminologists in the world's major international journals since 1985, and in the top three in Australasia.
These growing databases, and the insights generated by analysis of the data, led to the development of forecasting techniques that are now used by policy makers to plan effective forms of crime prevention and control, and measure their effectiveness and implementation costs. Between 1994 and 2001, he worked exclusively as an independent researcher, with clients including the United Nations Centre for International Crime Prevention (for whom he was principal author of the International Survey on Firearms Regulation report and an invited author of sections of the Global Report on Crime and Justice), the Australian Transaction Reports & Analysis Centre (which commissioned his "Estimates of the Extent of Money Laundering in and through Australia"), several State correctional agencies (including Victoria, Tasmania, the A.C.T., New Zealand and Colorado (USA)), and a number of other Australian and overseas government agencies.
In April 2001, he was appointed Manager, Justice Research and Strategic Analysis, Victorian Department of Justice, with responsibilities including the development of portfolio-wide projection modelling and evidence-based executive decision support. These forecasting techniques are now being copied in areas outside the justice system, including projections of Juvenile offender trends and the demand for drug treatment services. This work was also fundamental to CORE – the Public Correctional Enterprise Victoria - being awarded a Silver Medal for Business Excellence during 2003. This is the highest level ever awarded to any Australian public service agency and the first corrections jurisdiction in the world to gain such recognition. It was acknowledged by the Victorian Department of Treasury and Finance as best practice in the Victorian public service (see their Management Reform Program Case Study), and the modelling of Community Corrections has been awarded a prize for “Breaking new ground” at the “Probation 2004” conference organised by the U.K. National Probation Service. This award recognised "exemplary community corrections projects which serve to advance the knowledge, effectiveness and the integrity of the criminal justice system". The suite of models consists of a long-term projections “demand model”, a workload model and a services location model. For family reasons, he left the Department in May 2004 to return to full-time consulting, but will maintain strong links with the Department.
An important thread in John's work has involved identifying the economics of crime (e.g. the extent of proceeds of crime, the costs to the community and the amounts of money being laundered around the world). Over the last few years, he has attempted to develop the logic of an economic model of global crime, which has been the source of considerable interest in academic communities around the world. In spite of considerable data problems, the model leads to some extremely interesting conclusions, such as how seriously underestimated was the extent of criminality in transnational business dealings prior to the events of September 11 2001. Misguided global anti-moneylaundering policies single-mindedly pursued the transnational illicit drugs trade without any attempt to analyse the 'real' situation, until they were shocked into reality by Sept 11 2001 and the massive failures in the accounting and auditing professions. Now, instead, they are trying to turn bankers into anti-terrorist intelligence agencies.
During 2005, he was in constant demand, advising Austrac on updating the estimates of the extent of money laundering in Australia (see "The extent of money laundering in and through Australia in 2004" 6-page Summary Report and the 100-page Main Report), continuing to advise on forecast modelling techniques in the Victorian justice system, developing an economic model of the global illicit drugs trades for the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, developing a human resource allocation model for the Victoria Police, and conducting analyses of future correctional trends in South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory.
The world might be a different place if "evidence" were to replace "assertion", and if economic rationalism were complemented by "social rationalism" as the basis for policy making at every level from local to global!
John's Social Life
At the age of 64, John has an active and eclectic social life, which includes an occasional venture into the bush as an orienteer, an occasional performance as a speedway rider, a short but successful resurgence as a rugby union player, a regular (if not entirely expert) excursion around the swing dance scene with wife Karan, and a gig or two as a late-onset clarinettist. At the 2000 Sydney Olympics, John and Karan both worked in the VIP area at the waterpolo, explaining the rules (there are rules??) of waterpolo to Heads of State and Royalty.
From time to time, he amuses himself with what could, if you are being very generous, be described as writing poetry. His magnum opus - the Loaded Doggerel - is still a work in progress and can be downloaded here, but probably shouldn't be.
Keeping the Olympic VIP's safe (with Karan, 2000)
Doing the Charleston (with Karan) at Darling Harbour (2004)
The (could-have-been) rugby player (2008)
The (would-have-been) speedway rider (2009)
Le "Hot Club d'Ainslie" (2009)
Pretending to be James Bond (with Karan, Sing Australia, 2011)
Filling in on bass clarinet for Kaleidoscope (2011)
Introducing the (in)famous "Von Crapp Family Singers" (2012)
Receiving a "Highly Commended" Award at the Cooma Feast of Poetry (2012)
At the 40th Anniversary of the Australian Institute of Criminology
[with Don Weatherburn (NSW BoCSaR), Russell Wilson (Austrac) and Richard Harding (Former Director, AIC)] (2012)
 Cohn E.G. and Farrington D.P., Changes in the Most-Cited Scholars in Major International Journals between 1986-90 and 1991-95, British Journal of Criminology Vol 38 No 1, Winter 1998..
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