Politics, economy and crime. Embargo: 00.01 Friday 14 December 2007 (12/12/07)
The impact of political and economic factors on criminal justice, crime and punishment is examined in the latest issue of Criminal Justice Matters, the magazine of the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies at King's College London. Edited by Professor Pat Carlen, CJM explores contemporary economic and political thinking from a range of leading experts and thinkers in the field from the UK and abroad.
Research showing that countries favouring free market economics have higher rates of imprisonment is set out by James Dignan and Michael Cavadino. The research demonstrates that New Labour's political and economic approaches have driven increased levels of punishment and is one of the key drivers behind the rising prison population in the UK. Dignan and Cavadino warn that `it may be difficult to achieve a more lenient shift in penal policy without attending to other more entrenched aspects of the wider political economy.'
Baronees Vivien Stern describes how UK society is creating an industry out of crime. She argues that `a major part of UK social policy could be described as the creation of criminals. The creation of criminals has no limit.'
Professor Robert Reiner of the London School of Economics sets out how `root causes' are fundamental to understanding crime. He explains that `economic factors are now closely related to crime trends and patterns, due to the extent and impact of unemployment, poverty and inequality following the collapse of the post-war Keynesian, welfare state compromise, and the social tsunami of neo-liberalism.'
Alessandro di Giorgi of San Jose State University, calls for a shift away from exclusively focusing on incarceration rates to examining what he calls the `punitive assemblage' of `immigration detention centres, tough anti-crime policies as well as restrictive anti-poor welfare reforms'.
According to Professor Jock Young of the University of Kent economic and social insecurities of late modern life are critical factors driving an increasing intolerance of deviant behaviour and a disproportionate response to `rule breaking'. He argues that `the middle classes feel resentment towards those they perceive as an underclass detached from decent society yet living on their taxes and making none of the daily sacrifices that they have to make.'
Professor Susanne Karstedt of Keele University argues that globalisation has led to increased opportunities for powerful elites to commit serious crimes. She says `Corruption and economic crimes and trafficking in people, drugs and weapons, up to large-scale environmental crimes, violent predation as well as extended `turf wars', form distinct crime patterns at either side of the spectrum of functioning states.'
Professor Reece Walters of the Open University looks at environmental crime highlighting that governments and corporations exploiting natural resources for `maximum profit' are the main perpetrators rather then those responsible for anti-social fly tipping. Professor Walters argues the `dominant interest of trade and profit trump environmental safety'.
Dr Jo Pheonix of the University of Durham examines the government's approach to tackling prostitution arguing that policy reform has placed women at greater risk. She says that none of the current interventions `addresses either the socio-economic conditions that created the impetus for prostitution for many of the women or .... the violence and exploitation that women experience'.
Dr David Whyte of Liverpool University looks at the government's new Compliance Code, a code of practice for regulators, arguing that it opens the door to corporate crime. He says that the Code `represents a concerted attempt on the part of government to deflect the regulatory gaze further away from corporations and to limit the capacity for regulatory intervention'.
The relationship between social and economic inequality and rates of serious violent crime and examined by Professor Elliot Currie of the University of California. Drawing on research in the United States and Sweden, Professor Currie says that `the widening gap between the haves and have-nots goes well beyond sheer material deprivation to more immediate threats to lives and bodies'.
Copies of articles in the latest edition of CJM, are available on the CCJS website, www.crimeandjustice.org.uk or from .
Richard Garside, Director of the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, which publishes Criminal Justice Matters, said:
`Most people would acknowledge that there is a connection between politics, economy and crime. Yet despite more than a decade of talk about tackling the `causes of crime', there is little real debate about the underlying structural factors that influence levels of crime and harm. This latest issue of Criminal Justice Matters should be required reading for anyone interested in understanding what the real causes of crime and harm are'.
Enver Solomon, Deputy Director the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies: 020 7848 1997; 07939 221 381
Notes to editors:
- Criminal Justice Matters is the quarterly magazine of the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, an independent charity based at King's College. The views expressed in the magazine do not necessarily represent those of the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies.
- The Centre for Crime and Justice Studies is an independent charity based at King's College London. It was established in 1931 and aims to inform and educate about all aspects of crime and the criminal justice system from an objective standpoint. It encourages and facilitates healthy debate and understanding of the complex nature of issues concerning crime.