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 ].

 

Advertisements

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…

 

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

 

BSC Talking Points – Jessica Eaton, victim blaming in sexual assault. 

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.

This months BSC TALKING POINT is brought to us by Jessica Eaton. She will be discussing victim blaming in sexual assault. Jessica is from Birmingham University and is in the first year of her Forensic Psychology PhD. Her research uses a mixed methods approach to explore the prevalence, impact and experience of victim blaming and self blame after rape and sexual assault of women using a national survey and a series of interviews with women after rape and sexual assault and with professionals from rape centres around UK. Jessica is also the national training manager for JustWhistle and Chairperson and Founder of The Eaton Foundation (first male mental health centre in the UK). 

Jessica has an interesting and informative blog http://www.victimfocus.wordpress.com and you can find her on twitter @Jessicae13Eaton. 

This months session is today (Monday 4th July) at 8-9pm on our facebook group. ‬ ‪#‎GetInvolved‬ #SeeYouThere

EU Referendum Results Special

A Letter from the BSC Postgraduate Committee

1st July 2016

So here we are. The UK has decided and voted out. We are part of a generation that has never known a Britain not part of the European Union. This is unprecedented change, unsettling times.

Our job as criminology postgraduates is research; learning, challenge, discovery. And there is certainly much to learn about the process and outcome of the EU referendum.

These are uncertain times. But let’s be clear. To all postgraduate students of criminology, whoever you are, wherever you are from, however you voted – the postgraduate committee is your space, your community. Our focus remains inspirational criminological scholarship, and we will continue to support, encourage and celebrate the very best of postgraduate research.

A selection of criminology postgraduate students share their opinions of the implications of the Brexit vote on criminal justice in the UK.


Dominic Willmott, Doctoral Student from the University of Huddersfield, searches for optimism beyond the EU referendum and offers a researchers guide to the impact of leaving the EU on Criminal Justice in England.

Despite voting to remain amid fears of what leaving might mean for the national security of this country and the possibility of tarnished relationships with other EU states in the event of such threats, I can’t help but search for any positives for our criminal justice system. Is there anything that may actually lead to change for the better I ask myself? Maybe greater internal governance may make for more favourable human rights laws akin to UK value systems. Maybe the redistribution of EU financial contributions may provide a greater source of money to ensure more police officers on the street or order within overcrowded prisons. Maybe a refocusing of efforts and resources locally will actually mean the research advancements we postgraduate researchers make surrounding our criminal justice issues will begin to be noticed. Optimistic though it may seem, perhaps the change our research argues for and scientifically evidences may start to become a reality. Implemented in ways that lead to not only greater social justice but a fairer due process where treatment of those accused, convicted, released and even victimised is higher up the political agenda. Without the benefit of hindsight these ‘maybe’s’ are perhaps nothing more than just that. A list of possibilities in a sea of uncertainty. One thing that is however certain, is the need now more than ever for home grown scientific research surrounding how our criminal justice processes will cope with such monumental changes to the future of our country. They wanted a Brexit – they got it – now we as a community of researchers must raise to the challenge of sustaining UK independence and growth.

Teaching fellow Susie Atherton from Keele University questions what will happen to the reinvestment in justice following the result of the EU referendum.

In 2010, the cross party House of Commons Justice Committee (HOCJC) recommended a re-investment in justice to tackle high re-offending rates, mis-informed perceptions of community sentences and the complexity of the criminal justice system, with competing goals and priorities. Since then, new approaches in problem solving and restorative justice have been embraced, celebrated and then disregarded in favour of a new way to ‘transform rehabilitation.’ Whilst these reforms have been widely criticised, from with the conservative government and beyond, they have occurred alongside cuts in public spending, shifting the priorities of many police services away from neighbourhood policing, and a sense of the criminal justice system returning to its function to punish, deter and symbolise the authority of the law. The HoCJC recommend ‘pre-habilitation’ as a more ‘prudent, rational, effective and humane use of resources’ (2010:6), which also needed a greater commitment to tackling social exclusion, disadvantage, substance misuse and investing more in education and mental health services.

But, today 52% of the UK voted to leave the EU, and if we do indeed continue with this, the call for re-investment in justice and public services, already being overridden by austerity measures, could be ignored once again. There is another lost opportunity, in what we can and should learn from our European neighbours who manage their justice system without overcrowding and increasing levels of violence in prisons, and who are able to demonstrate significantly lower re-offending rates. Today, we can only say at best the status quo will continue, at worst, staff, prisoners, victims and citizens will be at further risk from a system simply unable to cope with the pressure, let alone offering anything meaningful to take place in reforming offenders, repairing harms and keeping communities safe.

PhD student Anita de Klerk from the University of Salford discusses the role of the media in the rising levels of violence since the EU referendum.

Since the EU referendum there have been a shocking number of incidences of violent, hateful ‘anti-immigrant’ crimes and stories being told in both the media and on social media networks. Reports have detailed how British citizens, and non-British citizens alike, have been told to go back from where they came from based on the colour of their skin or ancestral decent. The Brexit campaign was labelled as a “campaign of hate” by Sadiq Khan during the final televised debate before the referendum, but it is not Brexit that has created the platform from which the racists and xenophobes are now expressing their vile positions. The racists and the xenophobes existed long before the debate even started. It is the printed media that have given rise to the hate fuelled attacks on people and it is they who need to take responsibility and repair the damage they have caused.

No matter what side of the debate you were on, you cannot argue against the fact that both sides only offered uncertainty and misinformation and the media ran with whatever line they could to sell their papers. So far have the printed press fallen from the reality of what is acceptable and responsible to inciting violence to the point that now even murder is tolerable. In Dan Hodges’ column in the Daily Mail on Sunday the headline reads “Labour MUST Kill vampire Jezza”.

Nobody expects a member of the Labour or Conservative Party to take this seriously and organise to assassinate Jeremy Corbyn. However, there are lone ‘would be attackers’ who may just see this as an opportunity or believe that this is their duty. Ideologically motivated attacks are not new and are on the rise. It is not even 5 years ago that Anders Breivik murdered 77 people in Norway in support of fascism. Since then there have been numerous attacks throughout the ‘civilised’ West, the last of which was the Orlando Massacre where Omar Mateen opened fire and killed 49 people and injured many more, just over two weeks ago.

We need to start recognising and talking about the rise in ideologically motivated attacks by capitalism’s disaffected; individuals who are estranged from society by various capitalist channels like racism, Islamophobia, class and every other form of discrimination who turn to revenge their disaffection on those around them. Their revenge is then justified by the ideology that offers promises of an alternative to their disaffection. Our heritage under capitalism is poverty, suffering, racism, homophobia and disaffection, etc. We choose the ideology that best offers us hope, regardless of how ridiculous or hurtful it may seem to the next person. Murder is not a solution it is a crime as is hate inspired violence. It is time to investigate the inciters of violence and hold them accountable.

Gabriella Simak, PhD candidate from Bangor University, considers the impact on human rights in the context of criminal justice.

First, the UK will no longer be bound by the European Commission of Human Rights and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. The Human Rights Act 1998 was based on the European Convention of Human Rights and enshrined basic human rights and freedoms such as the right to life. So the question then becomes: will the HRA be repealed completely? Technically then, the death penalty could be brought back as a form of punishment as the UK has no other legislation which protects people’s right to life and fundamental freedoms that the ECHR protects.

The UK will no longer be signatory of any of the EU treaties upon a full exit from the EU, which means the UK will not have the right to issue a European Arrest Warrant, which means the UK will not be able to request extradition of offenders from EU member states. As for minors, EU member states will no longer be able to refuse the extradition of minors to the UK under the Mandatory Grounds for Refusal and the UK will not be able to request extradition of minors from EU member states, as England and Wales (10) and Scotland (8) have the lowest age of criminal responsibility in the EU.

Finally, the UK will no longer have to protection and benefits of the Europol, which means it will no longer benefit from joint law enforcement services, combating terrorism, trafficking in human beings, sexual exploitation of women and children, cybercrime and organised crime, including sharing of intelligence and evidence Article 88 of The Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union. As well, UK nationals will no longer be able to take their cases to the European Court of Justice, which oversees and regulates the legality of the acts of the EU member states.

Masters Student Madeleine Hughes, University of Kent, also reflects upon the impact leaving the European Union will have upon human rights legislation, appealing for humanity in political decision-making.

As I attempt to make sense of the countries decision to leave the European Union I cannot help but reflect on the impact that ‘Brexit’ will have on our human rights. Will our exit from the EU result in the Conservatives pressing ahead with their plan to repeal the Human Rights Act and to introduce their UK Bill of Rights? And if they do what impact will this have on the rights of our prisoner population?

My research focuses on problems faced by our imprisoned population, so I am keenly aware that prisoners’ rights are not a subject that elicits sympathy. It appears to me that, in some part, the impetus for many to leave the EU is borne from a desire to prevent rights being given to those who are deemed to be ‘undeserving’ and to protest against perceived dictates from the European Court of Human Rights. Human Rights are often seen as something that only benefits ‘others’; an argument postulated by the Leave campaign when claiming that the UK is inundated with foreign criminals who are ‘protected under EU human rights laws’ . But those who denounce human rights in this way are missing the point, for them to be human rights they must apply to all citizens not just those deemed worthy of them.

For Winston Churchill, ‘…the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of the civilisation of any country’. I would implore the politicians before they repeal the Human Rights Act to consider these words, because by failing to consider the rights of all of our citizens, including those who are imprisoned, politicians endanger the rights of us all.

Finally, PhD Candidate Adam Westall from Manchester Metropolitan University, appeals for us to ‘just do right’ – reminding us that, during times of change and uncertainty, it is the way we treat each other on a day to day basis that promotes security and social justice.

‘Great’ Britain, as we are officially titled is not looking so ‘great’ at the moment.  In the immediate aftermath following the decision to leave the EU, we appear to be more divided and less ‘great’ than we have ever been.  We are split politically in terms of our political parties being at war with each other, without (in my opinion any of them being able to run the country), we are divided in terms of class with significant differences in opinion between the less wealthy communities and those in the ‘middle and upper’ classes; and we are divided geographically with Scotland and Northern Ireland expressing wishes to leave the not so ‘United’ Kingdom.

So what does this mean for our security and maybe our safety?  Nationally and politically only time will tell, but individually, well the answer to this question lies in the streets and towns of the United Kingdom, it starts with us and our communities.  Over the next few years there will be change, both good and bad.  There may be racism and hurt along with lies and mistruths, which will affect how secure we feel.  There may also be bias and upset towards politicians, political parties or even our neighbours.  There doesn’t have to be.  This after all should never have just been about law making, immigration or the NHS.  Let us use this opportunity to look at things a bit different.  Start by doing right, saying hello or helping each other out a little, don’t let what happens on the world stage affect what happens on our streets.  This starts in the street, driving the car or popping to the shops, this is what matters.  We do not need to be a divided Britain despite leaving ‘the club’, we just need to simply ‘do right’ by each other.

 

SPECIAL CALL for contributions: EU Referendum result

We are putting out a special call for contributions from criminology postgrads. This is an opinion piece, and we are only after a small paragraph 150-300 words, that discusses the potential implications of the vote on criminal justice.You can address any area of criminal justice- such as prisoner voting, or human rights – or talk more generally about the impact upon wider criminal justice issues (security etc). 

It doesn’t matter how you voted, this is about looking forward to consider what this vote may mean. The committee will take a selection of submissions (assuming we receive enough suitable contributions to run the piece), and post one blog about it next week. 

Please email submissions to nicola.harding@stu.mmu.ac.uk before Wednesday 29th June 2016. 

BSC Talking Points: Gareth Stubbs – Representation in Policing

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.

This months BSC TALKING POINT is brought to us by serving police officer Gaz Stubbs, he asks what does representation mean in policing. He also runs the blog the Thinking Blue Line and you can find him on twitter at @DedicatedPeeler.

This months session is today  (Monday 6 June)  at 8-9pm on our facebook group ‪#‎GetInvolved‬ #SeeYouThere

 

Picture credit: Lego homage to Banksy’s Kissing Coppers. Photo: Jeff Friesen/Rex Features. http://metro.co.uk/2014/05/30/man-makes-lego-tribute-to-banksy-4745420/bricksy-a-lego-homage-to-the-work-of-banksy-may-2014-18/