Crime Reduction and Community Safety: Labour and the Politics of Local Crime Control

By Green, Simon | British Journal of Community Justice, Spring 2009 | Go to article overview

Crime Reduction and Community Safety: Labour and the Politics of Local Crime Control


Green, Simon, British Journal of Community Justice


CRIME REDUCTION AND COMMUNITY SAFETY: LABOUR AND THE POLITICS OF LOCAL CRIME CONTROL Gilling, D. (2007) Cullompton: Wi 1 1 an pp 265 pbk, ISBN: 978- I -843 92-25 I -3, £ I 9.5

In this book Daniel Gilling charts out New Labour's crime reduction and community safety strategy over its first ten years in office. Looking closely at the policies and practices that have shaped New Labour's 'third way' he manages to weave a coherent narrative through what could easily be described as a mind-boggling array of legislative and policy initiatives. This is no mean feat. Pulling together the seemingly disparate strands of New Labour's approach to crime control Gilling demonstrates his ability to marshal a vast array of material to explore the conditions, limits and paradoxes inherent in the New Labour project.

The book is split into seven manageable chapters that tackle distinctive themes. Chapter 1 provides the broad introduction, outlining the discussion to come as well as raising some important political and policy-making constraints that have influenced the development of crime reduction and community safety under New Labour. Chapter 2 then begins a systematic review of New Labour which reminds us of the core motifs of New Labour. Evidence -based policy, the third way, joined -up practice and new public management are succinctly outlined as key ingrethents for understanding crime reduction and community safety. Chapter 3 then begins by considering the crime prevention legacy New Labour inherited from the Conservatives in 1997 had how this evolved under Blair's first term in office into the crime reduction programme. Here Gilling begins to debate in earnest the early tensions in the New Labour project - the battle between a managerial doctrine and a community strategy of civic renewal.

Chapter 4 continues this debate by looking at New Labour's second term in which it sought to reform both policing and local government; confirming them both as the key responsible agencies in the crime and disorder reduction partnerships. The upshot of this phase was a gradual shift from crime reduction to community safety. The increasing emphasis on ant i- social behaviour and localised problems birthed a community safety approach which included social exclusion, employment, leisure activities and neighbourhood renewal as central to tackling crime. In Chapter 5 Gilling addresses the reasons behind New Labour's focus on anti -social behaviour, arguing that the primary political drive for this focus was to address public anxieties about 'nuisance neighbours' and further invest a communitarian inspired neo -liberal ethos on individual responsibility and the civil society.

Chapter 6 develops this theme further, analysing the moral authoritarianism which underpins New Labour's approach to addressing both crime and social exclusion. The increasing focus on the depravities of a criminogenic underclass and their moral bankruptcy signify to Gilling a deeply flawed and 'impoverished' understanding of the causes of crime and how to address them. It is here and in his concluding chapter that he most effectively refutes the New Labour project; drawing together academic debate and policy initiatives to comprehensively deny a market driven, employment based and responsibilising approach to achieving inclusion. …

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