Crime, Disorder, and Community Safety: A New Agenda?

Crime, Disorder, and Community Safety: A New Agenda?

Crime, Disorder, and Community Safety: A New Agenda?

Crime, Disorder, and Community Safety: A New Agenda?

Synopsis

This book provides an analytic overview and assessment of the changing nature of crime prevention, disorder and community safety in contemporary society. Bringing together nine original articles from leading national and international authorities on these issues, the book examines recent developments in relation to a number of specific groups - the disadvantaged, the socially excluded, youth, women and ethnic minorities. Topics covered include: * the increase in local authority responsibility for crime control and community safety * the development of inter-agency alliances * the changing nature of policing * the passing of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998.

Excerpt

Beyond criminology?

Roger Matthews and John Pitts

It used to be fashionable to claim that criminology was in crisis (Bottoms and Preston 1980; Young 1986). This diagnosis reflected a general mood of uncertainty and called for a reconsideration of the appropriate focus of criminological investigation. The mood, however, has changed over the past few years and a growing number of books and articles have appeared which suggest that criminology is currently in the process of fragmentation and dissolution (Ericson and Carriere 1994). These recent developments have been attributed to changes in the nature of social relations and to associated changes in the organisation of social control (Garland 1996; Lea 1998). No longer, it is argued, is the state purely concerned with individual acts of deviance. Increasingly, the focus is on security and the control of aggregate populations differentiated according to assessments of risk and dangerousness. The emergence of the so-called 'risk society' has brought in its wake new modes of inclusion and exclusion (Sibley 1995; Young 1999). Some critics propose that these changes have in turn eroded the conventional boundaries between social science disciplines as the objects of investigation begin to overlap and as narrow and parochial interests become less relevant.

Paradoxically, while some academics are beginning to mourn the demise of criminology as a discipline, the size of the crime control industry and the number of students studying criminology in many countries around the world is rapidly growing (Braithwaite 2000). In England and Wales the official annual cost of crime control currently stands at £8.2 billion, and this is projected to increase to £10.6 billion by 2003-4. These costs do not, of course, include the millions of pounds spent every year by private individuals and commercial organisations. Recent reports from the US indicate that in some states expenditure on crime control has exceeded that on education, while the amount spent by federal, state and local governments in 1996 was a staggering $120 billion for civil and criminal justice. This represented a 70 per cent increase over the previous year (Currie 1998; Bureau of Justice 2000).

The growing number of people studying criminology is on the one hand a function of the massive increase in media time dedicated to crime and

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