Call for Papers – ‘thinking differently’ about prison reform

The BSC post graduate committee are hosing a series of ‘thinking differently’ events. The first in the series is about prison reform.

The event is 15th November in Liverpool, with Professor Joe Sim, Liverpool John Moores University, as keynote speaker.

Full event details can be found here:

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/thinking-differently-about-prison-reform-tickets-28600460748

We are inviting students to submit an abstract to speak at the event. Abstracts must be no longer than 300 words and fit into the ‘Thinking Differently About Prison Reform’.

For any questions and to submit an abstract, please email jayne.price@liverpool.ac.uk. The deadline is 28th October, successful students will be notified by 4th November.

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Talking Points -Nathan Constable, the policing of mental health.

***Monday 7th November***

Our November BSC Talking Points discussion, hosted by anonymous tweeting and blogging UK police officer Nathan Constable, will focus on policing of mental health.
Nathan Constable is a serving police inspector in a UK constabulary. He has been tweeting and blogging anonymously for six years, commenting regularly on issues such as policing demand and police professionalisation, and is a finalist for the Best Blogging Police Officer in this year’s Police Twitter Awards.

Read about the reasoning behind Nathan’s annoymity here

If you would like some pre-reading then check out Nathan’s blog http://nathanconstable.wordpress.com (you can search for mental health related blogs) and Nathan suggests taking a good look through the work of @mentalhealthcop (twitter and blog).

See you on our Facebook group, Mon 7th Nov @8-9pm #GetInvolved

In the meantime, this commentary is worth a read: ‘I do much more than police work..’

[Image: Twitter/ ACC Paul Netherton – discussed here ].

 

Talking Points Summary – David Honeywell

This month David Honeywell hosted our monthly talking points debate in our Facebook group. David has kindly written this blog post in  response to the event.

Discussions on prisons are always a hot topic which is not surprising because everyone has an opinion on prison yet few understand what prison is for. The BSC forum discussion took place only several days after I had published an article in the conversation No wonder prisons are getting more violent about the rising prison population, violence and the government’s failure to implement recently promised prison reforms announced in the Queens speech earlier this year. I was pleased to see how popular such a discussion around prison could be and that I was able to create the right sort of questions that would ignite debate with comments being posted long after the discussion had closed.

Prison is a jungle where the survival of the fitness wins through and the weak are downtrodden. Because the responses came from fellow academics most of who support reform and rehabilitation – there wasn’t any resistance about the idea that people go to prison as punishment rather than to be punished. Unfortunately, the public by enlarge would disagree with most of us preferring life to mean life; that prisons are too soft and that prisoners go to prison to be punished in addition to losing their liberty.

Little knowledge of prison actually exists amongst the public and most who make claim that prisons are like holiday camps, have never actually been anywhere near a prison. The bulk of their knowledge comes from media reports that use low category prisons as a benchmark of what ‘prison’ is like. Rarely does the public see the physical harm that prisoners inflict on one another or indeed themselves. Never do they see the psychological harm that prison inflicts on prisoners. Most will never see inside a solitary confinement cell or feel the tensions that continually simmer within this pressure cooker environment.
Never will the media be able to photograph the pains of imprisonment or every day prison life.

My first question asking whether people are sent to prison as punishment or for punishment, created an immediate response that included answers such as prisons should be for both punishment and reform. My second question asked what the answer was to prison reform which received calls for more community focussed punishments including restorative justice whereby one person who has worked within this field argues that it is very affective. And there was an agreement that mental ill prisoners need mental health care as opposed to just punishment. Radical reforms for how women prisoners should be treated were called for including a ‘tailored approach that reflects the distinctiveness of their offending and their vulnerability’.

Finally I posed the question to the forum that if there was a possibility they may go to prison, what they would most fear. This was the most popular question and an ideal finale which created a lot of response. Surprisingly very few said they would fear possible backlash aimed towards their family members. This is a common oversight amongst offenders which shows how we go into survival mode when considering this bleak possibility. But most responses included fears of being away from family, violence, lack of control and space. All such responses confirm one of the most influential classic prison studies which was by Gresham Sykes in 1957. He talked about the pains of imprisonment all of which are still as relevant today.

Questions still remain when prison reforms will take place and what will happen to our prisons in the future.


Interested in this months talking points topic? The BSC PG committee are hosting a seminar on prison reform as part of their thinking differently series. details can be found below:

How can we understand the rise in prison violence? The first seminar of the new BSC Postgraduate Thinking Differently series, ‘Thinking Differently about Prison Reform’ 15 Nov in Liverpool http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-37698780

More details of the event, and call for papers, can be found on the events page: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/thinking-differently-about-p…

 

PhD Blog – The police and domestic abuse crime: positive steps but much more to be done

larissaThis weeks PhD Blog is from Larissa Povey, final-year PhD Candidate within the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research and Associate Lecturer in Criminal Justice at Sheffield Hallam University. Larissa’s PhD explores the impact of changes in UK criminal justice and welfare policies on the everyday lives of women at the social margins. Using a mixture of qualitative interviews, visual and ethnographic methods her study examines the lived experiences, perceptions and sense-making narratives of women who have been subject to multiple interventions from state agencies spanning both welfare and penal systems. Larissa hopes to make a contribution through using a feminist lens to explore the gendered character of social control and disciplining, texturing theoretical debates which often focus on men.

Larissa’s broad research interests lie in the areas of women and criminal justice, punishment beyond the prison, welfare policy, labour markets and social control.

PhD funding: Sheffield Hallam University Vice-Chancellor’s PhD Scholarship. This PhD is linked to the ESRC-funded “Welfare Conditionality: Sanctions, Support and Behaviour Change” project (http://www.welfareconditionality.ac.uk/).

Contact: larissa.j.povey@student.shu.ac.uk

The police and domestic abuse crime: positive steps but much more to be done

As a PhD candidate researching women’s experiences of the criminal justice system and welfare reform, I was recently invited to take part in a Domestic Abuse Crime Scrutiny Panel for a national police agency. This got me thinking about the way we deal with this type of crime in England and Wales; alongside small steps in the right direction there are contradictory developments which thwart such advances, particularly broader shifts in social policy under austerity.

Based on efforts by the Crown Prosecution Service to show transparency and engage the local community in examining police work, the earlier scrutiny panels focused on hate crime; the first, piloted in West Yorkshire in 2004 focused specifically on race hate crime. The development of domestic abuse crime scrutiny panels followed and more recently we have seen panels focusing on cases of violence against women and girls.

Efforts such as these indicate that across the criminal justice system agencies are attempting to take domestic abuse (DA) crimes and violence against women and girls more seriously. Indeed, statistics from a recent Crown Prosecution Service report (2016: 1) show that it is “prosecuting and convicting more defendants of domestic abuse, rape, sexual offences and child sexual abuse than ever before”. Importantly, there has been an 11% rise in convictions for Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) crimes, a trend that has been seen over the past three years. Prosecutions of this nature currently account for almost 20% of the Crown Prosecution Service’ total case load.

While new panels provide encouraging indicators that the police want to improve the way that they handle DA and VAWG crime, things are not entirely rosy. For example, the Home Office does not gather official statistics on the number of women and girls killed through domestic violence, a vast oversight. We do know the number of women killed by men in the UK because of the work of one individual Karen Ingala Smith, CEO of nia (a domestic violence charity) who began Counting Dead Women in 2012, her efforts are now supported by Women’s Aid and has developed into the Femicide Census to record all cases of ‘the murder of women because they are women’ (Women’s Aid, 2016). These efforts show a year on year increase in the number of women dying, averaging two women per week, at the hands of a partner, ex-partner or family member.

On the one hand we have the highest recorded reporting and prosecutions for DA and VAWG crimes. On the other, we have an increasing number of women dying from this type of crime. So what are some of the reasons that might be contributing to this? Since 2010, we have seen swinging cuts to services under austerity. This includes large cuts to women’s refuges resulting in the loss of 17% of specialist refuges and a third of referrals being turned away. Police guidelines outline refuges as a key intervention in the effective protection of victims, so with fewer refuges and places for vulnerable women and children it is a no brainer that this may have a detrimental effect on victims’ ability to get themselves to safety.

Though prosecutions are up, these cases reflect a small proportion of the overall number of incidences reported. And there are new ways of committing these offences as seen in the proliferation of online abuse specifically using social media as a tool for stalking, harassment and control. Policing these new mechanisms of abuse take investment and resources, there is much work to be done and things are likely to get worse as we see continued cuts to police budgets meaning fewer specialist police.

Other reforms such as changes to legal aid have been felt particularly acutely by women, who will have little recourse to free legal aid. According to this report such changes “raise disturbing questions about the state’s failure to protect women, especially those at risk of – and those who have already experienced – domestic violence” (Mayo and Koessl, 2015: 9).

There are deeper, enduring structural inequalities which place women in a position of less power in relation to men, this legacy can be seen in the persistence of devaluing of social reproductive work, the gender pay gap, gendered labour, maternity leave policy to name just a few. It is this power imbalance that creates a breeding ground for domestic abuse which is about power and control. These inequalities will be made worse by ongoing reforms to both in-work and out-of-work benefits. Upcoming reforms are likely to worsen the financial situation of vulnerable women, particularly lone parents. These factors explain some of the reasons behind the statistics and we may see further increases in DA and VAWG crimes and dead women.

PhD Blog – Considerations on recent legislation to combat ticket touting.

alessandroThis week’s PhD blog is by Alessandro Moretti, a final-year Criminology PhD student at Greenwich University. The subject of Alessandro’s thesis is black market ticket touting. He conducted ethnographic research to gain new knowledge in the strategies adopted by touts with the aim of contributing to the current debate on whether the practice should be regulated. This blog questions the extent to which recent legislation on the much-discussed practice of ticket touting offers effective consumer protection, particularly against fraud.

Alessandro offers some of his findings in this blog, through which he argues that attempts to protect the consumer have ultimately been futile. Alessandro’s independent, ethnographic research has thus far consisted of: 100 hours of observational fieldwork on touts outside venues; monitoring and participating in the secondary online market; and in-depth interviews with 25 sellers during a two-year period.

Contact Alessandro Moretti a.moretti@greenwich.ac.uk or Twitter @Moretti131

Protecting the consumer from what?

Ticket touting is understood to mean the buying and reselling of tickets for a profit.

Traditionally an activity for the “sheepskin-coat-wearing” characters loitering outside venues (Collinson, 2015), the black market of tickets has in the last decade expanded considerably into the world wide web (Jones, 2015). Most notably, this has been facilitated by “the big four” resale platforms Get Me In!, Stubhub, Viagogo and Seatwave (APPG, 2014).

The key word here is expanded, as in no way whatsoever have street touts ceased to operate. A large number of transactions also continue to occur on websites like Gumtree, or through social media. And yet, the first ticketing legislation to target the practice since 1994 (1) covers the big four and little else.

The obvious question is: what do consumers need protection from?

Professor Waterson’s recent review of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (“CRA”) found that the most sensitive issue relates to the “(high) prices” of ticket resale (2016: 182). In the same review it was also asserted that: “…the consumer…above all else does not want to be a victim of fraud” (2016: 170).

High prices

The CRA was arguably introduced to increase transparency on online secondary ticketing facilities. The focus on requiring seat numbers to be published on resale listings, however, left questions around ticket prices unanswered.

A price cap has been strongly vouched for by Sharon Hodgson MP since 2010 (2), but, consistently with the government’s reluctance to interfere with free-market entrepreneurialism – an entrenched position held since the criminalisation of ticket touting beyond football was rejected in the 1990s (3) – the Bill was never ratified.

The Waterson review, published in May 2016, has once again advised against a price cap, this time on the grounds that it would be unlikely to be enforced, or that resellers may move abroad to get around such a law.

Given that not even the most basic requirement of publishing seat numbers has been enforced (Davies and Jones, 2016), can this be considered an acceptable rationale? And aren’t illegal resellers of football tickets already based abroad (such as Spanish platform Ticketbis, amongst others) to evade UK law?

The central element of the debate – the cost of tickets on the secondary market (4) – has, once again, been completely sidestepped.

Fraud

With regards to fraud, my research has led me to the following conclusion:

• Fraud does not occur in the places targeted by the legislation

The arrival of the internet has spawned countless opportunities for touts and others to exploit (CMSC, 2008). In the same way that traditional street touts expanded their repertoire into online resale, fraudsters who sell fake tickets on the streets are now able to exploit the “buzz” of a sell-out event online, too.

Bogus companies” created by “fly-by-night opportunists” (Sugden, 2002: 26) imitate the big four in both appearance and function. The difference is that the tickets on offer are either counterfeit or do not exist (see Christie, 2015 and Hopkins, 2016 on companies “Circle-Tickets” and “Getsporting”, amongst others).

This, in my view, is where online ticket fraud, estimated at £5.2m for the year ending October 2015 (Peachey, 2016), is primarily occurring – not on the big four. In addition, fraudsters still imitate touts on the streets. It is happening on Gumtree, Craigslist and Twitter, meaning the cost of ticket fraud is in fact much higher. Sadly, the CRA seems ineffective in all such instances of fraud.

Concluding thoughts

Whilst most critics insist that more should be done against online touts (Savage, 2016; Chapple, 2016; Jones, 2016), the problem, in my view, is that focusing primarily on the big four has neglected the true, historical nature of ticket touting, the link that exists between the internet and the street, and the opportunistic crimes that can spawn from it.

My research aims to show that, despite intensified calls on the government to protect consumers, recent legislation has been misdirected. It is not just a problem of enforcement; the legislation has targeted the wrong area, namely the “legitimate” online secondary market, and has ultimately left consumer protection as a mere afterthought, despite it being heralded as the CRA’s primary focus.

Footnotes
1. Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994. Legislation was introduced for the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics but these were, of course, temporary measures for one-off events
2. Sale of Tickets (Sporting and Cultural Events) Bill
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmbills/013/11013.i-i.html
3. This statement from the parliamentary debate in April 1994 illustrates the point well: “At Wimbledon there are not two sides who will have a punch-up if someone’s favourite loses the match. There is no such problem at pop concerts, or at the Derby and other horse races. Although I am against touts making a profit out of those events, at least one can say that the market economy can prevail there” (emphasis added).
4. Additionally, a direct consequence of the high cost of tickets is that pockets of society are being priced out from attending events. A ticket tout, by targeting the more affordable tickets and reselling them at a premium, “undermines the whole point of subsidy” and “denies access to those who the tickets are aimed at” (Bennett, 2014).

References

All Party Parliamentary Group on Ticket Abuse (2014) Secondary Market Investigation: Putting Fans First. London: House of Commons Library.

Bennett, A. (2014) Royal Opera House warns culture secretary Sajid Javid over ticket tout support. Huffington Post 10 April 2014. Available from http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/04/10/sajid-javid-ticket-touts-naive_n_5124008.html. Accessed 4 June 2016

Chapple, J. (2016) UK industry reacts to Waterson report. IQ Live Music Intelligence 1 June 2016. Available from http://www.iq-mag.net/2016/06/uk-industry-reacts-michael-waterson-secondary-ticketing-report/#.V1MGQMdllEJ. Accessed 4 June 2016

Collinson, P. (2015) Ticket prices will go in one direction due to government U-turn. The Guardian 31 August 2015. Available from: http://www.theguardian.com/money/blog/2015/aug/31/ticket-prices-one-direction-thanks-government-u-turn. Accessed 4 June 2016

Consumer Rights Act 2015, c.5. Available at http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2015/15/part/3/chapter/5/enacted. Accessed 4 June 2016

Culture, Media and Sport Committee (2008) Ticket touting, Second Report of Session 2007-08. London: The Stationery Office Limited

Christie, S. (2015) Police fraud agency warns of surge in ticket fraud at start of festival season. The Telegraph 25 June 2015. Available from: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/money-saving-tips/11696458/Police-warn-of-surge-in-ticket-fraud-at-start-of-festival-season.html. Accessed 4 June 2016

Davies, R. and Jones, R. (2016) How the touts get away with bleeding fans dry. The Guardian 15 May 2016, Available from: http://www.theguardian.com/money/2016/may/15/shady-world-of-the-ticket-touts. Accessed 4 June 2016

Hopkins, J. Rugby World cup spurs big rise in online ticket fraud: cost of fake tickets soars 55% to £5.2m. This is Money 21 March 2016. Available from: http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/news/article-3501482/Rugby-World-Cup-spurs-big-rise-online-ticket-fraud-Cost-fake-tickets-soars-55-5-2m.html. Accessed 4 June 2016

Jones, R. (2015) Are ticket resale sites just hi-tech touts without the sheepskin coats? The Guardian 28 February 2016. Available from: http://www.theguardian.com/money/2015/feb/28/ticket-resale-sites-hi-tech-touts. Accessed 4 June 2016

Jones, R. (2016) Ticket touts face licencing threat. The Guardian 26 May 2016. Available from http://www.theguardian.com/money/2016/may/26/ticket-touts-review-licensing-enforcement. Accessed 4 June 2016

Lord Ashton (1994) HC Deb, cc 348-57, 13 April 1994. Available from: http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1994/apr/13/sale-of-tickets-for-designated-football. Accessed 4 June 2016

Peachey, K. (2016) Football and rugby hit by ticket fraud. BBC News 21 March 2016. Available from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-35862010. Accessed 4 June 2016

Savage, M. (2016) Ticket sites ‘must do more to fight touts’. BBC News 26 May 2016. Available from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-36382463. Accessed 4 June 2016

Sugden, J. (2002) Scum airways: Inside football’s underground economy. London: Mainstream.

Waterson, M. (2016) Independent review of consumer protection measures concerning online secondary ticketing facilities. Available from: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/525885/ind-16-7-independent-review-online-secondary-ticketing-facilities.pdf. Accessed 4 June 2016

BSC Talking Points – David Honeywell, The purpose of prison.

On the first Monday of each month the BSC postgraduate community hold a talking points session on Facebook. Here we or a guest contributor pick a topic to discuss live on-line, in our facebook group, for an hour.

The BSC talking points series resumes this Monday 3rd October with a discussion led by David Honeywell. David is a convict criminologist and lecturer from University of York. David is nearing completion of his PhD that is about ex prisoners in higher education in relation to changing identities and desistance. 

Read David’s latest article in the conversation – ‘No wonder prisons are getting more violent, they’re full to the brim’ by David Honeywell – then join us on the facebook page , Monday 8-9pm for the next BSC Talking Points #getinvolved

 

Image credit: Peter Davidson