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Violence Research Centre



Team: Dr Paolo Campana, Prof Federico Varese (PIs); Dr Cecilia Meneghini (Research Associate); Dr Ben Bradford (Affiliate Member, University College London); Alyssa Knisley (PhD Student). Funding: Leverhulme Trust



The Illegal Governance (i-Gov) Project aims to identify and explore instances of illegal governance in local communities across the United Kingdom. A focus on illegal governance allows scholars to retain the crucial distinction between producers of goods and services on the one hand and suppliers of forms of regulation on the other. In this view, organised crime attempts to regulate and control the production and distribution of a given commodity or service unlawfully. Such an aspiration requires investments in a special set of resources, which are not necessarily available to illegal producers and traders. 

Illegal governance of communities is a phenomenon traditionally associated with regions of the world with a high density of Mafia-like organisations, like Sicily, Russia, Hong Kong, or more recently, Latin America. Yet the governance dimension of organised crime is not just a feature of mafias and cartels, it is also undertaken by criminal groups in territories outside of the conventional settings.

Illegal governance is operationalised through the i-Gov Index based on indirect measures, including the ability of an organised crime group to:

  • generate fear in a community
  • coerce legal businesses 
  • influence public officials
  • control illicit markets
  • play a role in community activities.

For further information, please contact us at


Selected Publications

  • Campana, P. and Varese, F. (2020). “Studying organized crime networks: data sources boundaries and the limits of structural measures”. Social Networks, online first: Campana, P. (2020). “Human Smuggling: Structure and Mechanisms”. Crime & Justice, online first: https://doi. org/10.1086/708663
  • Campana, P. (2020). “Human Smuggling: Structure and Mechanisms”. Crime & Justice, online first:
  • Baika, L. and Campana, P. (2020). “Centrality, Mobility and Specialization: A Study of Drug Markets in a Nonmetropolitan Area in the United Kingdom”. Journal of Drug Issues, 50:2, 107-216.
  • Campana, P. (2019). Migrant Smuggling in  International and Transnational Crime and Justice, edited by Mangai Natarajan, Cambridge University Press.
  • Campana, P. (2018). Unravelling child trafficking routes, N&V, Nature Sustainability, 1(5), 216-217.
  • Campana, P. (2018). Out of Africa: The Organization of Migrant Smuggling Across the Mediterranean, European Journal of Criminology, 15(4), 481-582. 
  • Campana, P. and Varese, F. (2018). Organized Crime in the United Kingdom: Illegal Governance of Markets and Communities. British Journal of Criminology.
  • Campana, P. (2017). The Market for Human Smuggling into Europe: A Macro Perspective. In Policing, 11:4, 448-456.
  • Campana, P. (2017). “Macro trends in the smuggling of migrants into Europe: An analytical exploration”, European Police Science and Research Bulletin, 16, 57-64