In the 1920s and 1930s, crime rose to the top of the agenda of
global problems. Experts warned of worldwide crime waves in the
wake of the first world war, migration and economic depression, and
of a new generation of border-crossing criminals, known to the
press as motor bandits and gangsters. The League of Nations
organized institutions for suppressing the trade in dangerous
drugs, traffic in women and terrorist violence. International
voluntary organizations mobilized anti-crime campaigns and police
forces formed what is now known as Interpol. The interwar period
laid down the structure for international crime prevention that
endures today and supplied the conceptual map of current global
anxieties related to crime. To understand the organizational
response to international crime now, it is essential to look back
at problems these institutions were meant set up to address,
problems shaped by such vexed notions as the foreign drug
trafficker, women in music halls, political murder clubs and the
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