The Plural Policing of Fraud : Power and the investigation of insurance and welfare fraud in Sweden

Sammanfattning: There is a vast literature on plural policing and the ways in which non-governmental actors now have and are assuming more responsibility for crime control. This literature argues that the connection between policing and the state is being eroded, questioned and sometimes abandoned in favour of networks in which the state acts as one actor among many others. This thesis examines the Swedish policing of insurance and welfare fraud via an analysis of the ways in which power is organized and articulated by actors in the private insurance industry, and at the Swedish Social Insurance Agency and police authority.The three articles included in the thesis contribute to a field that has received comparatively little attention, particularly in Sweden but also internationally. The existing literature has primarily been interested in the control of street-level criminality and the operations of uniformed security actors. Investigation practices in general and the plural policing of white-collar crime in particular have received far less attention. In Sweden, studies of policing are primarily state-centred, and the interactions between the police and other policing actors require further consideration. When examining insurance fraud, scholars have not considered the ways in which the insurance institution controls fraud; instead, this literature focuses on the characteristics of fraudsters. Thus the current thesis furthers our knowledge of a field of policing about which we currently know relatively little.The thesis takes as its general assumption the view that this form of policing is marked by a basic ambiguity between on the one hand being responsibilized and assuming responsibility for crime control, and on the other being responsible for other goals, such as promoting trust in, and the legitimacy and survival of the insurance institution. Existing research suggests that this ambiguity is resolved by simply denying compensation, adjusting premium levels, and cancelling policies or social benefits. My research shows that there is no Swedish exceptionalism in this sense.Based on a Foucauldian understanding of power, the thesis furthers our understanding of how the insurance institution is organized to tolerate fraud. The uncertainty between crime control and additional organizational goals is embedded in attempts to police the policing actors themselves, which is reflected in forces that make the policing of fraud a professional risk for the policing actors. The thesis argues that power relations provide opportunities to ensure that organizational goals are not endangered, while at the same time maintaining the public image that crime is being controlled. In contrast with existing research, the thesis shows that the law and the state – analytical categories that existing research, and particularly post-Foucauldian approaches, tend to reject or avoid – are critical to the plural policing of fraud. It is further suggested that scholars need to pay more attention to the way different technologies of power shape relationships between the actors involved in plural policing and their definitions of their own roles. In particular, scholars need to consider the role of the state and the legal framework in such arrangements.