Dr Giulia Berlusconi

BA (UniBo), MA (UCSC), PhD (UCSC)
+44 (0)1483 686973

Academic and research departments

Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.


University roles and responsibilities

  • Programme Director for BSc Criminology and Sociology
  • Member of the FASS Ethics Committee

My qualifications

PhD Criminology
Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore
MA Applied Social Sciences
Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore
BA Sociology and Criminology
Università di Bologna

Academic networks


Research interests

Research projects

My teaching

My publications


Dugato M, Calderoni F, Berlusconi G (2017) Forecasting Organized Crime Homicides: Risk Terrain Modeling of Camorra Violence in Naples, Italy, Journal of Interpersonal Violence Sage Publications
Mafia homicides are usually committed for retaliation, economic profit, or rivalry among groups. The variety of possible reasons suggests the inefficacy of a preventive approach. However, like most violent crimes, mafia homicides concentrate in space due to place-specific social and environmental features. Starting from the existing literature, this study applies the Risk Terrain Modeling approach to forecast the Camorra homicides in Naples, Italy. This approach is based on the identification and evaluation of the underlying risk factors able to affect the risk of a homicide. This information is then used to predict the most likely location of future events. The findings of this study demonstrate that past homicides, drug dealing, confiscated assets, and rivalries among groups make it possible to predict up to 85% of 2012 mafia homicides, identifying 11% of city areas at highest risk. By contrast, variables controlling for the socio-economic conditions of areas are not significantly related to the risk of homicide. Moreover, this study shows that, even in a restricted space, the same risk factors may combine in different ways, giving rise to areas of equal risk but requiring targeted remedies. These results provide an effective basis for short- and long-term targeted policing strategies against organized crime- and gang-related violence. A similar approach may also provide practitioners, policy makers, and local administrators in other countries with significant support in understanding and counteracting also other forms of violent behavior by gangs or organized crime groups.
Savona E, Berlusconi G (2011) Maritime Piracy in Somalia: Developing New Situational Prevention Techniques, In: Picarelli J (eds.), INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZED CRIME: THE AFRICAN EXPERIENCE. Selected papers and contributions from the International Conference on ?International Organized Crime: The African Experience? Courmayeur Mont Blanc, Italy 10-12 December 2010 pp. 45-57 ISPAC
Berlusconi, Giulia (2016) Organised Crime in European Businesses, Routledge
The infiltration of organised crime in the legitimate economy has emerged as a transnational phenomenon. This book constitutes an unprecedented study of the involvement of criminal groups in the legitimate economy and their infiltration in legal businesses, and is the first to bridge the research gap between money laundering and organised crime. It analyses the main drivers of this process, explaining why, how and where infiltration happens.

Building on empirical evidence from the Netherlands, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, the UK, Ireland, Italy, France and Finland, Organised Crime in European Businesses is divided into four parts. Part I explores the infiltration of legitimate businesses to conceal and facilitate illicit trafficking. Part II examines the infiltration of legitimate businesses to develop fraud schemes. Part III focuses on the infiltration of legitimate businesses to control the territory and influence policy makers. Part IV concludes by considering the research and policy implications in light of these findings.

Bringing together leading experts and detailed case studies, this book considers the infiltration of organised crime in legitimate business around Europe. It is an ideal resource for students and academics in the fields of criminology, economics and sociology, as well as private sector practitioners, public officials and policy makers.

Riccardi M, Berlusconi G (2017) Measuring organised crime infiltration in legal businesses, In: Savona E, Riccardi M, Berlusconi G (eds.), Organised Crime in European Businesses pp. 16-32 Routledge
This chapter discusses the methodological challenges in defining, operationalising and measuring
organised crime infiltration in legal businesses. It first reviews existing definitions and measures of organised
crime; it then focuses on infiltration, outlining the differences with respect to the concepts of organised crime
investments and money laundering. It discusses the strengths and the weaknesses of existing measures and
methodological approaches (e.g. analysis of statistics on confiscated assets, of personal holdings, of case studies),
suggesting further directions to improve the collection of data and research in this field.
Berlusconi Giulia, Aziani A, Giommoni L (2017) The determinants of heroin flows in Europe: A latent space approach, Social Networks. Special issue on Crime and Security Networks 51 pp. 104-117 Elsevier
This study utilises recent advances in statistical models for social networks to identify the factors shaping heroin trafficking in relation to European countries. First, it estimates the size of the heroin flows among a network of 61 countries, before subsequently using a latent space approach to model the presence of trafficking and the amount of heroin traded between any two given countries. Many networks, such as trade networks, are intrinsically weighted, and ignoring edge weights results in a loss of relevant information. Traditionally, the gravity model has been used to predict legal trade flows, assuming conditional independence among observations. More recently, latent space position models for social networks have been used to analyze legal trade among countries, and, mutatis mutandis, can be applied to the context of illegal trade to count both edge weights and conditional dependence among observations. These models allow for a better understanding of the generative processes and potential evolution of heroin trafficking routes. This study shows that geographical and social proximity provide fertile ground for the formation of heroin flows. Opportunities are also a driver of drug flows towards countries where regulation of corruption is weak.
Berlusconi G, Calderoni F, Parolini N, Verani M, Piccardi C (2017) Link Prediction in Criminal Networks: A Tool for Criminal Intelligence Analysis, PLoS ONE 11 (4) e0154244 Public Library of Science
The problem of link prediction has recently received increasing attention from scholars in
network science. In social network analysis, one of its aims is to recover missing links,
namely connections among actors which are likely to exist but have not been reported
because data are incomplete or subject to various types of uncertainty. In the field of criminal
investigations, problems of incomplete information are encountered almost by definition,
given the obvious anti-detection strategies set up by criminals and the limited investigative
resources. In this paper, we work on a specific dataset obtained from a real investigation,
and we propose a strategy to identify missing links in a criminal network on the basis of the
topological analysis of the links classified as marginal, i.e. removed during the investigation
procedure. The main assumption is that missing links should have opposite features with
respect to marginal ones. Measures of node similarity turn out to provide the best characterization
in this sense. The inspection of the judicial source documents confirms that the predicted
links, in most instances, do relate actors with large likelihood of co-participation in
illicit activities.
Berlusconi G (2017) Social Network Analysis and Crime Prevention, In: Leclerc B, Savona E (eds.), Crime Prevention in the 21st Century: Insightful approaches for Crime Prevention Initiatives pp. 129-141 Springer
Social network analysis (SNA) has proven its value in refining criminological
concepts and theories to aid the understanding of social processes behind
crime problems and to assist law enforcement agencies in enforcing crime.
Social network methods and techniques have a great value for crime prevention as
well. SNA can be adopted to study crime epidemics and gang-related violence to
identify proper violence reduction strategies. Furthermore, the adoption of a network
approach can help understand the etiology and dynamics of criminal groups
and assess the implications of different disruption strategies, thus limiting network
reorganization. This chapter discusses the network approach in criminology and
its value for crime prevention.
Law enforcement agencies rely on data collected from wire taps to construct the organizational chart of criminal enterprises. Recently, a number of academics have also begun to utilise social network analysis to describe relations among criminals and understand the internal organisation of criminal groups. However, before drawing conclusions about the structure or the organisation of criminal groups, it is important to understand the limitations that selective samples such as wire taps may have on network analysis measures. Electronic surveillance data can be found in different kinds of court records and the selection of the data source is likely to influence the amount of missing information and, consequently, the results. This article discusses the impact that the selection of a specific data source for the social network analysis of criminal groups may have on centrality measures usually adopted in organised crime research to identify key players.
Giommoni L, Aziani A, Berlusconi G (2017) How Do Illicit Drugs Move Across Countries? A Network Analysis of the Heroin Supply to Europe, Journal of Drug Issues 47 (2) pp. 217-240 SAGE Publications
Illicit drugs are trafficked across manifold borders before ultimately reaching consumers. Consequently, interdiction of cross-border drug trafficking forms a critical component of the European Union?s initiative to reduce drug supplies. However, there is contradictory evidence about its effectiveness, which is due, in part, to a paucity of information about how drugs flow across borders. This study uses a network approach to analyze international drug trafficking both to and within Europe, drawing on several perspectives to delineate the factors that affect how drug shipments move across borders. The analysis explicates how drug trafficking is concentrated along specific routes; moreover, we demonstrate that its structure is not random but, rather, driven by specific factors. In particular, corruption and social and geographical proximity are key factors explaining the configuration of heroin supply to European countries. This study also provides essential insights into the disruption of traffickers? illicit activities.
Calderoni F, Berlusconi G, Garofalo L, Giommoni L, Sarno F (2015) The Italian mafias in the world: A systematic assessment of the mobility of criminal groups, European Journal of Criminology 13 (4) pp. 413-433 Sage Publications
This study complements existing literature on the mobility of criminal groups (mainly based on country case studies) with the first systematic assessment of the worldwide activities of the four main types of Italian mafias (Cosa Nostra, Camorra, ?Ndrangheta and Apulian mafias) from 2000 to 2012. Drawing from publicly available reports, a specific multiple correspondence analysis identifies the most important associations among mafias, activities, and countries. The results show that the mafias concentrate in a few countries; drug trafficking is the most frequent activity, whereas money laundering appears less important than expected; a stable mafia presence is reported in a few developed countries (mainly Germany, Canada, Australia, and the United States). The mafias show significant differences: the ?Ndrangheta tends to establish structured groups abroad, whereas the other mafias mainly participate in illicit trades.
Berlusconi G (2017) Organised criminals and the legal economy, In: Savona E, Riccardi M, Berlusconi G (eds.), Organised Crime in European Businesses pp. 4-15 Routledge
Economic activities are distributed along a continuum whose extremes are criminal activities and
completely legal ones. Between these two extremes lie several other possible ways in which organised criminals
engage in activities that are formally legal yet organised and managed illegally. Attention has been recently paid
to legal businesses and their exploitation by criminal organisations, and to the drivers of criminal infiltration in
legal businesses, including concealment of illegal activities, profit through fraud, and control of the territory.
Berlusconi G (2014) Italian Mafia, In: Bruinsma G, Weisburd D (eds.), Encyclopedia of Criminology and Criminal Justice pp. 2699-2706 Springer
The Encyclopedia of Criminology and Criminal Justice is an international, comprehensive reference tool for the field of Criminology and Criminal Justice that is both cutting edge as well as of very high scientific quality and prestige. This 10-volume work provides a complete and systematic coverage of the field that is unprecedented. The Encyclopedia "defines the field" through its choice of organization and entries. It identifies and brings emerging ideas and trends to the forefront. The Encyclopedia covers Criminology and Criminal Justice in ten broad areas, with leading researchers writing substantive contributions within their area of expertise:
Dugato M, Berlusconi G (2015) Maritime piracy worldwide, (1) Università degli Studi di Trento
Berlusconi G (2014) Piracy: History, In: Beare M (eds.), Encyclopedia of Transnational Crime and Justice pp. 301-303 SAGE Publications.
Transnational crimes involve border crossings as an integral part of the criminal activity. They also include crimes that take place in one country with consequences that significantly affect other countries. Examples include human trafficking, smuggling (arms, drugs, currency), sex slavery, non-domestic terrorism, and financial crimes. Transnational organized crime refers specifically to transnational crime carried out by organized crime syndicates. Although several encyclopedias cover aspects of transnational crime, it is this encyclopedia's emphasis on transnational justice, as well, that differentiates it from the pack. Not only do we define, describe, and chart the crimes and criminal activity, we also will include significant coverage of policing those crimes and prosecuting them within domestic and international court systems. Accessible and jargon-free and available in both print and electronic formats, the one-volume Encyclopedia of Transnational Crime and Justice will contain such entries as arms smuggling, art fraud, charity fraud, hacking and computer viruses, copyright infringement, counterfeiting, drug smuggling, extradition, human trafficking, intelligence agencies, international banking laws, Internet scams, Interpol, money laundering, pollution and waste disposal, price fixing, prosecution, sanctions, sex slavery, tax evasion, terrorism, war crimes, the World Court, and more.
Hamilton Claire, Berlusconi Giulia (2018) Contagion, counterterrorism and criminology: The Case of France, Criminology & Criminal Justice 18 (5) pp. 568-584 SAGE Publications
In the burgeoning criminological literature on security, risk and preventive justice which has followed the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers, ?contagion? or the deleterious effect of counterterrorist policies on the ordinary criminal law has been the subject of some discussion, mostly in the context of the threat which such ?exceptional? policies pose to mainstream procedural values. This article seeks to build on this literature through an examination of the impact of post 9/11 counterterrorism law and policy on the ordinary criminal justice system in France. Given the extent to which counterterrorist law now encroaches on various aspects of French criminal law, the argument is made for greater criminological attention to be paid to the ?trickle-down? effect of extraordinary law on the ordinary business of the criminal justice system.