Criminology, School of

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Uncovering Tor: An Examination of the Network Structure

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2018-05-09
Abstract: 

The dark web is a concealed portion of the Internet that can only be accessed through specialized software. Although multiple dark web technologies exist, with a common trait of using encryption to enforce anonymity, the Tor network remains the most prominent dark web network. To visit websites on the network, the user must use a heavily modified Firefox browser. The use of encryption to achieve anonymity poses a significant challenge for law enforcement that wishes to monitor users and content for illicit activity. This study examines Tor by focusing on the network structures created between websites via hyperlinks. Examining hyperlinks can provide insight into how virtual communities form on a network. We explore traditional social disorganization principles as a basis to draw comparisons between these virtual communities and real-life crime-prone neighborhoods. Automated data collection techniques were used to leverage the interconnected nature of domains on Tor. Using social network analysis, website hyperlinks are examined and core sites are identified. The analysis shows that these core sites form a significant portion of all connections made on the network with a density of 0.132. This core serves a critical function and has implications for detecting how users connect on Tor.

Document type: 
Article
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Building New Approaches to Risk Reduction With Social Networks and People Who Smoke Illegal Drugs From Participatory Community-Based Research

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2018-12-01
Abstract: 

Background: Global cases of overdose-related deaths attributed to synthetic opioids are reaching epidemic proportion in many jurisdictions. While the main focus of health agencies and the different levels of government has been to combat the cases linked to injection drug use, the deaths attributed to smoking illegal drugs have not gained the same attention. Moreover, little attention has been given to the role of people with past or current experiences of illegal drug use and how their social networks can mitigate the risk of a highly stigmatized behavior such as smoking illegal drugs.

Methods: The study concerns the first social network research conducted via a community-based participatory action methodology in two distinct urban (Vancouver) and rural (Abbotsford) centers in British Columbia, Canada. The study will identify the influence of social networks on people who smoke illegal drugs (PWSID) and their adherence to interventions aimed at reducing harm. Through community consultations, members of the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users and the British Columbia/Yukon Association of Drug War Survivors not only assisted with the design of this research project but also assisted with the data collection, management, protection and entry of demographic, and network information.

Discussion: Many traditional qualitative and quantitative methods have not effectively engaged people who use drugs as researchers or collaborators due to stigma related to illegal drug use. The aim of this study is to recognize that everyone within the network of PWSID is a few steps away from harm. Therefore, we aim to reduce the harm associated with smoking of illegal drugs, especially for PWSID that are at the highest risk. At the same time, we hope that the social network research via a participatory community-based approach will mobilize PWSID in the process and offer a different method of knowledge construction from the traditional positivist approaches.

Document type: 
Article
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Gender, Victimization, and Commercial Sex: A Comparative Study

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2109-11-07
Abstract: 

This article critically examines and compares adult male and female experiences selling sex in Canada’s off-street sex industry. Findings indicate that gender disparities exist when it comes to the work of selling sex: male providers are better insulated from violence and exploitation because of their gender, while female sex workers are forced to navigate multiple layers of oppression to assure safer working conditions. Despite these differences, this data suggests that prioritizing overarching labour issues, instead of gendered experiences working in commercial sex, can function to increase all sex workers’ safety and access to justice.

Document type: 
Article
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An Evaluation of Bylaw and Policy Changes on Pharmacy Robberies in British Columbia

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2019-01-16
Abstract: 

On 15 September 2015, the College of Pharmacists of British Columbia (BC) implemented a set of by-law and security policy changes in an effort to reduce robberies and burglaries in BC pharmacies. Prior to these by-law and security policy changes, pharmacy robberies were increasing in BC for approximately 5 years. After implementation, pharmacy robberies decreased significantly. In this paper, we evaluate the potential impact of the by-law and security policy changes on pharmacy robberies in four regions within BC. We find strong evidence supporting that the reduction in pharmacy robberies is a result of this by-law and accompanying security policy changes. Specifically, there was an immediate and substantial drop in pharmacy robberies within Vancouver, with a change in trend (now decreasing instead of increasing) for the Interior and Lower Mainland less Vancouver. These results should be considered support for maintaining these by-laws and security policy changes in BC and potential implementation in other areas of Canada experiencing similar issues.

Document type: 
Article
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Adversity in University: Cyberbullying and its Impacts on Students, Faculty and Administrators

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2017-08-08
Abstract: 

This paper offers a qualitative thematic analysis of the impacts of cyberbullying on post-secondary students, faculty, and administrators from four participating Canadian universities. These findings were drawn from data obtained from online surveys of students and faculty, student focus groups, and semi-structured interviews with faculty members and university administrators. The key themes discussed include: negative affect, impacts on mental and physical health, perceptions of self, impacts regarding one’s personal and professional lives, concern for one’s safety, and the impact of authorities’ (non) response. Students reported primarily being cyberbullied by other students, while faculty were cyberbullied by both students and colleagues. Although students and faculty represent different age levels and statuses at the university, both groups reported similar impacts and similar frustrations at finding solutions, especially when their situations were reported to authorities. It is important that universities pay greater attention to developing effective research-based cyberbullying policies and to work towards fostering a more respectful online campus culture.

Document type: 
Article
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High-Frequency Use of Corrections, Health, and Social Services, and Association With Mental Illness and Substance Use

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2015
Abstract: 

Background

A subgroup of individuals becomes entrenched in a “revolving door” involving corrections, health, and social welfare services. Little research has investigated the numbers of people that are in frequent contact with multiple public agencies, the costs associated with these encounters, or the characteristics of the people concerned. The present study used linked administrative data to examine offenders who were also very frequent users of health and social services. We investigated the magnitude and distribution of costs attributable to different categories of service for those in the top 10 % of sentences to either community or custodial settings. We hypothesized that the members of these subgroups would be significantly more likely to have substance use and other mental disorders than other members of the offender population.

Methods

Data were linked across agencies responsible for services to the entire population of British Columbia spanning justice, health, and income assistance. Individuals were eligible for inclusion in the study if they were sentenced at least once in the Vancouver Provincial Court between 2003 and 2012. We examined the subset of participants who fell within the top 10 % of sentences and at least two of the following service categories: community physician services; hospital days; pharmaceutical costs; or income assistance between 2007 and 2012. We examined two groups of offenders separately (those in the top ten percent sentenced to community supervision or to custody) due to differences in time at risk and availability to receive community-based services.

Results

From more than 14,000 offenders sentenced in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, very High Frequency service users associated with community (n = 216) and custody (n = 107) sentences incurred average attributable public service costs of id="mce_marker"68,000 and $247,000 respectively over a 5-year period of observation. Health-related costs for both groups were over $80,000 per person, primarily associated with hospital admissions. Across both groups, 99 % had been diagnosed with at least one mental disorder and over 80 % had co-occurring substance use and another mental disorder.

Conclusions

A subset of offenders with concurrent psychiatric disorders receives extremely high levels of service from health, social welfare, and justice sectors in close temporal succession. Members of this subpopulation require targeted supports in order to produce positive outcomes and prevent the perpetuation of a costly and ineffective revolving door.

Document type: 
Article
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Deep Coastal Marine Taphonomy: Investigation into Carcass Decomposition in the Saanich Inlet, British Columbia Using a Baited Camera

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2014-10-20
Abstract: 

Decomposition and faunal colonization of a carcass in the terrestrial environment has been well studied, but knowledge of decomposition in the marine environment is based almost entirely on anecdotal reports. Three pig carcasses were deployed in Saanich Inlet, BC, over 3 years utilizing Ocean Network Canada’s VENUS observatory. Each carcass was deployed in late summer/early fall at 99 m under a remotely controlled camera and observed several times a day. Dissolved oxygen, temperature, salinity, density and pressure were continuously measured. Carcass 1 was immediately colonized by Munida quadrispina, Pandalus platyceros and Metacarcinus magister, rapidly scavenged then dragged from view by Day 22. Artifacts specific to each of the crustaceans’ feeding patterns were observed. Carcass 2 was scavenged in a similar fashion. Exposed tissue became covered by Orchomenella obtusa (Family Lysianassidae) which removed all the internal tissues rapidly. Carcass 3 attracted only a few M. quadrispina, remaining intact, developing a thick filamentous sulphur bacterial mat, until Day 92, when it was skeletonized by crustacea. The major difference between the deployments was dissolved oxygen levels. The first two carcasses were placed when oxygen levels were tolerable, becoming more anoxic. This allowed larger crustacea to feed. However, Carcass 3 was deployed when the water was already extremely anoxic, which prevented larger crustacea from accessing the carcass. The smaller M. quadrispina were unable to break the skin alone. The larger crustacea returned when the Inlet was re-oxygenated in spring. Oxygen levels, therefore, drive the biota in this area, although most crustacea endured stressful levels of oxygen to access the carcasses for much of the time. These data will be valuable in forensic investigations involving submerged bodies, indicating types of water conditions to which the body has been exposed, identifying post-mortem artifacts and providing realistic expectations for recovery divers and families of the deceased.

Document type: 
Article
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A Cost-Benefit/Cost-Effectiveness Analysis of an Unsanctioned Supervised Smoking Facility in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, Canada

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2014
Abstract: 

Background

Smoking crack involves the risk of transmitting diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C (HCV). The current study determines whether the formerly unsanctioned supervised smoking facility (SSF)—operated by the grassroot organization, Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU) for the last few years—costs less than the costs incurred for health-care services as a direct consequence of not having such a program in Vancouver, Canada.

Methods

The data pertaining to the attendance at the SSF was gathered in 2012–2013 by VANDU. By relying on this data, a mathematical model was employed to estimate the number of HCV infections prevented by the former facility in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES).

Results

The DTES SSF’s benefit-cost ratio was conservatively estimated at 12.1:1 due to its low operating cost. The study used 70% and 90% initial pipe-sharing rates for sensitivity analysis. At 80% sharing rate, the marginal HCV cases prevented were determined to be 55 cases. Moreover, at 80% sharing rate, the marginal cost-effectiveness ratio ranges from id="mce_marker",705 to $97,203. The results from both the baseline and sensitivity analysis demonstrated that the establishment of the SSF by VANDU on average had annually saved CADid="mce_marker".8 million dollars in taxpayer’s money.

Conclusions

Funding SSFs in Vancouver is an efficient and effective use of financial resources in the public health domain; therefore, Vancouver Coastal Health should actively participate in their establishment in order to reduce HCV and other blood-borne infections such as HIV within the non-injecting drug users.

Document type: 
Article
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A Cost-Benefit/Cost-Effectiveness Analysis of Proposed Supervised Injection Facilities in Ottawa, Canada

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2014
Abstract: 

Background

Supervised injection facilities (SIFs) are venues where people who inject drugs (PWID) have access to a clean and medically supervised environment in which they can safely inject their own illicit drugs. There is currently only one legal SIF in North America: Insite in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The responses and feedback generated by the evaluations of Insite in Vancouver have been overwhelmingly positive. This study assesses whether the above mentioned facility in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver needs to be expanded to other locations, more specifically that of Canada’s capital city, Ottawa.

Methods

The current study is aimed at contributing to the existing literature on health policy by conducting cost-benefit and cost-effective analyses for the opening of SIFs in Ottawa, Ontario. In particular, the costs of operating numerous SIFs in Ottawa was compared to the savings incurred; this was done after accounting for the prevention of new HIV and Hepatitis C (HCV) infections. To ensure accuracy, two distinct mathematical models and a sensitivity analysis were employed.

Results

The sensitivity analyses conducted with the models reveals the potential for SIFs in Ottawa to be a fiscally responsible harm reduction strategy for the prevention of HCV cases – when considered independently. With a baseline sharing rate of 19%, the cumulative annual cost model supported the establishment of two SIFs and the marginal annual cost model supported the establishment of a single SIF. More often, the prevention of HIV or HCV alone were not sufficient to justify the establishment cost-effectiveness; rather, only when both HIV and HCV are considered does sufficient economic support became apparent.

Conclusions

Funded supervised injection facilities in Ottawa appear to be an efficient and effective use of financial resources in the public health domain.

Document type: 
Article
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