Project DIVERT is a research project, co-funded by the DG Home of the European Commission, which focuses on the diversion of live-firing firearms from the legal domain into the illicit sphere within the European Union. Previous studies such as Project SAFTE and Fire have demonstrated that the overwhelming majority of firearms that are currently illicitly possessed or circulate on the illicit market were originally manufactured and traded legally. At a certain point in time these weapons were diverted into the illicit sphere.
Project DIVERT focuses on three specific diversion methods:
- Theft (e.g. from legal owners, shooting clubs, arms dealers, government stockpiles, production facilities and destruction sites).
- Fraudulent actions (such as the use of forged import or export licences, false declarations of stolen firearms or falsified registries)
- Non-regularization (e.g. persons who illicitly possess firearms as a result of historic legacies such as a recent armed conflict or persons who have not applied for the necessary authorization after a change in legislation).
Project DIVERT aims to develop a more profound understanding of the size and nature of diversion of firearms and to understand the main dynamics currently at play in this process, and to increase information sharing on the diversion of firearms within the EU among relevant stakeholders. Moreover, the study equally aims to identify and disseminate good practises for preventing of diversion of firearms from the legal into the illegal sphere. The project aims to evaluate current policies at national and EU level and develop policy recommendations.
The first phase 1 of the project (January-May 2019) consists of an explorative mapping of the scale and nature of the three selected diversion methods in all EU Member States. The following phase (June-December 2019) consists of an in-depth analysis of the dynamics of the three diversion methods and related policy responses in a selection of EU MS. The research findings from these two phases will be disseminated and discussed with relevant law enforcement agencies at meetings of European multidisciplinary co-operation platform on firearms (EMPACT Firearms).
In the final phase of the project (January-August 2020) good practices will be identified and policy-recommendation will be formulated. In this phase four regional workshops will be organised across Europe for representatives from law enforcement agencies, national firearms focal points and administrative agencies responsible for arms export control and for the control of legal firearms possession and trade within the MS. This way the project aims to contribute to the sharing of information and awareness raising across institutional boundaries.
At the end of the project a final report with the research findings and policy recommendations will be published.
Project DIVERT is coordinated by the Flemish Peace Institute. The other project partners are the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Europol, the Intelligence Centre Against Terrorism and Organized Crime (CITCO) of the Spanish Ministry of Interior Affairs and Weapons Section of Central Directorate for the Combat of Organised Crime (DJSOC) of the Belgian Federal Judiciary Police.
For more information about the project, please contact research coordinator Nils Duquet.