This year’s winner of the Erasmus Research Prize is the criminology research group of Erasmus School of Law. During the 110th Dies Natalis on 8 November 2023, team members Lieselot Bisschop, Robby Roks, Richard Staring, and Karin van Wingerde were presented the prize for their outstanding performance in the field of research.
For many years the criminology research group has conducted ground-breaking research in the Port of Rotterdam on drug related crime, human trafficking, human smuggling, and environmental crime. The research team is an interdisciplinary group representing talented scholars. Two of its members, Karin van Wingerde and Lieselot Bisschop, who recently were appointed as Professors at Erasmus School of Law, are experts in the field of corporate and organised crime and public-private collaboration. Richard Staring is Professor of empirical criminology at Erasmus School of Law and an expert in ethnographic and other qualitative methods to study the nature and approach to organised crime, human smuggling, and border control. Robby Roks is an expert in criminal and problematic (youth) groups (for example drill rap and violence in the city of Rotterdam) and organised crime, and he is a regular guest in the media to talk about these topics.
Empirically based knowledge on drug trafficking in the Port of Rotterdam
The municipality of Rotterdam, police, public prosecutor, and customs (‘Driehoek+’) faced a rise in drug-related crimes in the Port of Rotterdam. In 2017, they sought to establish an independent, science-based analysis of the criminological background of these undesirable developments. Their main objectives were to obtain empirically based knowledge on drug trafficking through the Port of Rotterdam and on its facilitating criminal and legal structures, to counter the subversive character of drug trafficking and improve law enforcement in this field.
The criminology research group won the related tender commissioned by the ‘Driehoek+’. Their research improved knowledge of the state of affairs in the port and how criminal behaviour may be tackled. For instance, the final report (2019) identified developments in the misuse of port facilities and infrastructure, as well as risks and vulnerabilities in the existing port activities. Rotterdam authorities transformed the group’s results and all six major recommendations into a confidential implementation agenda (Offensive against Drugs Crime. Heading on a safe and resilient Port of Rotterdam, 2021). The 22 identified action points are currently being implemented.
NWO grant FORT-PORT
Recently, the criminology research group proposed a multi-method approach by combining qualitative empirical criminological insights, quantitative network analysis, mathematical modelling and serious gaming, and action-oriented research in their awarded NWO grant FORT-PORT (Focusing on the Right Things in the Port of Rotterdam). FORT-PORT (2023-2028) aims to provide better insight into how criminal organisations involved in cocaine trafficking and human smuggling operate in and around the port of Rotterdam. These insights will enable governmental actors to intervene proactively and thus prevent drug trafficking and human smuggling related violence and harm. Moreover, FORT-PORT aims to shed light on the bottlenecks and success factors in the existing public-private partnerships in the port and stimulate exchange with other (main)ports in the Netherlands and Europe, allowing for a future-proof governance structure.
Making positive societal impact
The jury was very impressed by the scientific excellence of the criminology research group: ‘This research group operates within a theme at the heart of which we as a university want to work. We appreciate the group’s visibility, with publications at national and international level.’ In addition, the jury recognises the difficulty of researching these topics, and appreciates the interdisciplinary approach to the research
About the Research Prize
The Research Prize of Erasmus University Rotterdam is awarded to a promising researcher who obtained her/his doctorate degree within the last three years, or a research group, that has performed exceptional research at our university.
The prize confers a monetary value of € 7,000 as well as a certificate of appreciation. This certificate is signed by both the Rector Magnificus and the chairman of the Erasmus Trustfonds.