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.

#BSCconf16 – ‘My first BSC conference but definitely not my last’ by Roxanna Dehaghani

Roxanna is a PhD student and graduate teaching assistant at the University of Leicester. She presented a paper at this years BSC conference entitled ‘Vulnerable by law but not by nature: exploring custody officers’ conception of youth and childhood vulnerability in the context of police custody’ . She presented this on Thursday 7 July from 11-1230 in the ‘Childhood, Juvenile and Youthful Vulnerabilities’ parallel. Roxanna has written an interesting piece for us before about vulnerability in police custody, you can find this here.

The 2016 British Society of Criminology conference, hosted at the Nottingham Conference Centre, was not my first conference but it was my first BSC conference. And, as with the previous conferences I have attended, I enjoyed every moment – from the Postgraduate Breakfast (which gave me a chance to meet other PGRs) to the train home on the Friday afternoon (when I collected my thoughts and had a quick nap!).

The conference, for the PGRs, kicked-off on Wednesday morning with an informal meet-and-greet breakfast, shortly followed by a plenary entitled ‘Criminology on a Mission’ with Prof Peter Squires (Brighton) (see the blog by Ania Matczak for more detail). After a quick refreshment break we had the choice of attending one of four panel sessions. As I am nearing the end of my 3rd year I thought I had best attend the session ‘Building your Academic CV’ with Dr Steve Tong (Canterbury Christ Church) and Dr Victoria Silverwood (Birmingham City). This session provided PGR’s with invaluable gems about all things job market from a job-panel member (Tong) and a recent job market candidate (Silverwood). The conference-proper began after lunch with a talk by Mr Will Hutton entitled ‘Why Purpose Matters’ (see the blog by Ania Matczak for more detail). Of all the enticing sessions packed into the three days, I decided to focus on youth justice and policing, whilst also dipping into gender and queer criminology. Day 2, in particular, seemed to have a core theme – that of vulnerability and risk. Each session exploring this concept from different lenses. The plenary by Prof Kelly Hannah-Moffat (Toronto) entitled ‘Repositioning Criminogenic Risk in an Era of Diversity, Data Analytics and Inequality’ aligned perfectly with my ever-increasing interest in risk.

There are many lessons that one can learn from attending a conference. Firstly, you would be surprised about how various areas interact or overlap – do not be afraid to venture outside of your research topic/discipline as there are always (often not-so-obvious) links with your own work. Secondly, conferences can be daunting but they can also be a lot of fun! Some of the best ideas develop over lunch or at the drinks reception or dinner over a glass of wine (or fruit juice!). It is also helpful to discuss your ideas with experts and non-experts alike – these conversations can provide an additional perspective on your work (and it is sometimes the lack of perspective that has been causing you to stare blankly at a computer screen for weeks or months!!!). Thirdly, even if you are the only person attending from your department or institution (I was the only Leicester Law School member in attendance) you will soon realise that you are far from alone. Within the broad church that is criminology I met another Roxanna; two fellow Dutch speakers; a bunch of Leicesterians (from Criminology); other policing scholars; scholars interested in and researching the concept of vulnerability; an expert on the appropriate adult safeguard; and many, many other PGRs. Such commonalities highlight how easy it is to get to know people, establish friendships/working relationships and communicate ideas. Although many of these connections were facilitated through prior contact (through Twitter – I would recommend signing up and using this to connect with people before, during and after the conference! – or via email), many were established organically on the day.

Attendance at the BSC conference was invaluable and I would urge all PGRs to think about presenting a paper or poster at the British Society of Criminology conference next year at Sheffield Hallam.

 

The BSCPG Committee – going from strength to strength

Susie Atherton, Keele University

If you have been keeping up with our blog over the course of the BSC conference, you will see that Susie has offered some brilliant posts to update us with the key themes and messages from the conference proceedings. Here is another fantastic post from her, if you want to catch up with her previous posts you can find them here and here. Thank you Susie!

 

As an ex-chair of the committee, 2010-2012 (ish), I am so pleased to see the fine work which has gone on since my departure. When I took over, previous chairs had raised the profile of the BSC post-graduate group over the years, to have their own conference and website, and it was a valued voice for new PG students like me. To be part of it so early on in my PhD journey was exciting and at the time, developing the good work of my predecessors was helped by many others, on the journey with me and also established academics keen to pass on their wisdom and experiences.

 

Last year, in Plymouth, Professor Joe Sims was inspiring, celebrating the work of post-graduate students, telling them how valuable they are and how very important to criminology and social science. Having been out of loop since stepping down in 2012, I was so pleased to see how Rachel Morris and Anna Sergi had kept up the ethos and purpose of the BSCPG committee. Way back when I set up the Facebook and Twitter accounts, we just had a plan on how to best manage it and a hope that some members would find it useful. Since then, it has come on in leaps and bounds, now at 1,520 members and growing every week.

 

Now a new generation are taking things even further and ensuring that post-graduates in criminology (and related disciplines!) are part of the blogosphere, and seeing the opportunities of new technologies to generate debates, raise the profile of research and share experiences. I am certain for many students it is a lifeline – doing a PhD can be a lonely existence, even with the best efforts of university departments, and I hope students continue to value the work of the BSCPG committee. It is really heartening to see tweets from members such as Joe Payne (with a video!) thanking Clare Davis and her team for another great event, and I have to mention Nicola Harding for her excellent work on developing the blog and keeping it going. There is a bright future ahead for postgraduate students, and while sitting in my study and blogging away during #BSCConf2016 has been nice, I am excited to attend next year, hopefully as ‘Dr’, but that’s a blog for another day….

 

 

#BSCconf16 – Living up to the title

Susie Atherton, Teaching Fellow in Criminology, Keele University

Susie has been blogging brilliantly about the BSC conference in Nottingham. You can read her first post here

Another day of scrutinising tweets has shown how well this year’s conference is examining ‘Inequality in a Diverse World.’ As Prof. Neil Chakraborti said, ‘British Criminology is in good health’, which is demonstrated for me by the themes from this year’s conference showing a distinct shift towards applying what we criminologists know, getting it out there and not shying away from the difficult issues. Presentations on the experiences of trans-gender prisoners (Mia Harris) show academics engaged with these debates and delegates responding to this through their tweets, keen to understand and share knowledge about the detrimental practices in prisons for this group. There is a clearly a need to understand their experiences and how current legal provisions manages this. Karen Heimer and Stacy de Coster presented work on the narratives of women in prison and their perceptions of mothering, a theme recently examined in a text edited by Lucy Baldwin (‘Mothering Justice’) examining the treatment of mothers in criminal justice and broader social policies, from a range of practitioners and academic researchers. The announcement of a new journal on Gender Based Violence is welcome, given the wealth of research and scope of issues this can cover.

 

The rights of animals were also examined by academics from the University of South Wales (Dr. Harriet Pierpoint and Dr. Jennifer Maher), Middlesex (Angus Nurse) and Brighton (Prof. Peter Squires). Abuse and neglect of animals was discussed as ‘worthy of moral consideration and legal protections’, given the disturbing statistic that ‘97% of animal species receive little or no protection from legislation and those charged [with] their welfare are often abusers.’ Squires discussed the killing of animals in the name of sport, a campaign picked up by twitter in recent times, with the images of trophy killing, the outpouring of grief and outrage over Cecil the Lion. It is good to see that criminology, as a social science, is examining these issues I hope current and prospective PG students continue this trend, to perhaps consider zemiological perspectives beyond what is legally defined as criminal. If I had my PhD to do again, I would definitely design a therapeutic programme for ex-offenders which involved kittens in some way, to demonstrate their effect on reducing re-offending – I am certain it would work!

 

As Nick Howe and Mary Corcoran discussed, to examine social problems in the context of what the criminal justice system can do is needed, as it highlights the important role of the third sector, along with concerns about how agencies such as the police can adequately respond to issues generated by current social policies. Referring to domestic abuse cases, a report out today begs the question, how can the state protect victims if there is nowhere suitable to house them? Housing in communities seems to be at the very heart of social problems and also solutions, and yet, for many achieving this goal is out of reach, and for others, the focus is to see a house as an investment, not a home. This brings to mind again the theme of the impact of inequality, in that different approaches in policing and the courts, and the inclusion of the third sector are always going to be constrained in demonstrating their effectiveness, where social exclusion thrives and were the disadvantaged are misled and mis-represented.

 

I was really struck by the range of methodologies present in papers, from ethnography getting the attention it deserved, from papers and most importantly, giving Professor Dick Hobbs the Lifetime Award – a lot of crimtweeters were very pleased about that one! But there were also some exciting new forms of studying crime, through examining essays written by women who have committed serious crimes (Heimer and de Coster) and lyrical criminology (Steve Wakeman) which is something I want to know more about. Finally, the use of social networking data as a predictor of crime – computational criminology (Prof. Matthew Williams). Accessing data from social networking sites was something I used in my own research in a much less sophisticated way, but for me it was a useful resource by which to examine community life and experiences as well as responses to agencies using social networking to promote their work, such as charities and also Neighbourhood Policing teams. To use it as a form of ‘big data’ is an exciting new frontier and will no doubt generate plenty of new research opportunities. This was also demonstrated by Kelly Hannah Moffat in her paper on big data and social injustice.

 

So, I heartily agree with Prof. Chakraborti, that British Criminology is in good health – these ramblings are from just some of the #BSCConf2016 tweets and surely the tip of the iceberg, but they do show how criminologists are engaging with new forms of data, contemporary challenges and understanding and embracing what a truly diverse world we live in.

SPECIAL CALL FOR CONTRIBUTIONS : Chilcot Inquiry

Special Call for Contributions: Chilcot Inquiry

We are putting out a special call for contributions to a blog piece, written by criminology postgraduates. This is an opinion piece, and we are only after a small paragraph 150-300 words, that discusses the potential implications of the report from a criminological perspective.

You can address any area of  the report or talk more generally about the impact upon wider criminal justice issues.

If this relates to your research, or would like to make a longer contribution (500-800 words) this would also be welcomed. (Please indicate in your email if you would like to offer an extended piece and I will send you the details back before you write your contribution).

Please email nicola.harding@stu.mmu.ac.uk with your contribution by Wednesday 13th July.

iraq inquiry call.png

 

BSCConf2016 – Plenary review

BSCConf2016 – Plenary on ‘criminology’ by Professor Peter Squires and the ‘near perfect storm’ by Will Hutton.

By Susie Atherton

Susie Atherton is a Teaching Fellow in Criminology at Keele University. She has recently submitted her PhD on ‘Communities, Crime and Justice: Exploring community justice and community life’ which is a case study of community justice initiatives in the North East. It examines different ways in which the police, courts and restorative justice practitioners work with volunteers and local citizens to solve the problem of crime and anti-social behaviour.

As an observer in the comfort of my study and soft leather (effect) chair it is interesting to watch how the conference this year is represented through twitter, and so I decided to collate some observations and thoughts.

image

Professor Peter Squires began with asking ‘What is Criminology?’ A very important question and one which we all still need to grapple with, in order to consider its role in determining the future of criminal justice policy, the political and economic contexts in which this occurs and to critique the pervasive notion of justice as punishment. It resonated with me given my own PhD research on problem solving justice, which requires practitioners, journalists and local citizens to accept different forms of ‘doing justice.’ Any number of evaluations into such approaches, (e.g. Wolf 2007, Mair and Millings, 2011; Bowen and Whitehead 2013) demonstrate the value of problem solving approaches, innovation in courts and restorative justice. However, they also emphasize the challenges in engaging citizens to work with the state to prevent crime and re-offending, whether this is seen solely as the responsibility of the state, or a problem they wish to see removed, rather than resolved. Donoghue (2014) suggests court processes can do something which is more ‘socially meaningful’ than being part of the punishment production line and others see courts as a place for ‘therapeutic jurisprudence’ (e.g. Ward, 2014) in which the adversarial contest gives way to dialogue with defendants and partnership working with a range of other agencies to prevent re-offending.

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In his plenary, Professor Squires suggests the discipline of criminology needs to contribute to policy which is evidence led, asks more practical questions, looks forward and seeks to solve problems. In restorative justice and problem solving approaches in courts and in policing, there are examples of a response to crime which is more forward thinking. Perhaps then challenge for criminologists is to get this message out to those who still view justice as punishment to deter others, taking retributive glances back to the harms caused and justifying the rhetoric of control as a means to solve the problem of crime.

 

The theme of the political and economic contexts in which crime and the response to it occurs was then picked up by Will Hutton. He outlined the ‘near perfect storm’ of the political and social disaster of the new right project, which has seen pervasive and long term inequalities leading to what Dr Mary Corcoran described as  ‘weakening civil society.’ The acceptance of contemporary forms capitalism across the board of policy makers, politicians, the media and citizens, which Dr James Treadwell described as ‘capitalism on steroids’ has now demanded attention by criminologists. Recent events have seen high profile political figures retreat from their responsibilities, even in the face of a victorious (in the eyes of Gove, Johnson, Farage et al) referendum vote to leave the European Union (EU), in a campaign which dismissed the word of ‘experts’ and which has gambled with social and economic policy. The divisive reactions from citizens focusing their frustration and anger on immigration and the role of the EU is disturbing, but not surprising. Given that it is the experts, the researchers and academics across the country who can provide evidence on what works, for whom and why, criminology has its place in using research to examine the details of how crime and justice affects individuals and communities, whilst also understanding how social structures and political ideologies inform policy, practice and perceptions of crime and justice.

 

Both plenaries have provided some interesting themes for the conference, so, if anyone at the conference is reading this, do keep tweeting!

 

References

BOWEN, P. and WHITEHEAD, S. (2013) Better courts: Cutting crime through court innovation, New Economics Foundation and Centre for Justice Innovation.

DONOGHUE, J. (2014). Transforming Criminal Justice?: Problem-Solving and Court Specialisation. Routledge.

MAIR, G. and MILLINGS, M. (2011) Doing Justice Locally: The North Liverpool Community Justice Centre, Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, London.

WARD, J. (2014) Are problem-solving courts the way forward for justice? London: Howard League for Penal Reform.

WOLF, R.V. (2007) Principles of Problem Solving Justice, Center for Court Innovation, New York: Bureau of Justice Assistance.

Picture credit to Claire Davis BSC PG Chair @ClaireDavisPHD.

Tweet Susie your thoughts @SusieAtherton and follow the conference hash-tag #BSCConf16.

 

 

BSC Conference 2016 – Inequalities in a diverse world

Today is the first day of the British Society of Criminology conference for 2016 ‘Inequalities in a diverse world’. This year the conference is being held in Nottingham, and postgraduates are part of the main conference, with a dedicated morning for postgraduates starting today at 9am with a free breakfast!

Claire and the postgraduate committee have organised a brilliant morning today which will be very useful for postgraduates attending the conference. This includes:

Postgraduate Plenary:Peter Squires, University of Brighton
‘Criminology on a Mission: Difficult Issues and Awkward Questions’

 

Postgraduate Panel sessions:

Mark Simpson, Teesside University and David Best, Sheffield Hallam University -Networking and Conference Skills
Peter Squires, University of Brighton and Helen Jones, British Society of Criminology
– Dissemination, Media and Impact
Steve Tong, Canterbury Christ Church University and Victoria Silverwood,
Birmingham City University
-Building your Academic CV
Thomas Sutton, Routledge Books
Getting published: An introduction for early career academics
and
Jacquelyn Fernholz, Routledge, Taylor and Francis
Publishing in academic journals.

You can look through the conference proceedings here.

Today at least two of our postgrad’s are giving oral presentations, and they have both also contributed to our blog.

Jayne Price, University of Liverpool, is in today’s first session A.1 ‘Perspectives on youth justice’ 15:15-16:45 (LT4, Level 1 and 0 access). You can read her blog post here.

‘Exploring pathways and transitions between juvenile and adult penal institutions’
And

Charlene Crossley, Manchester Metropolitan University, is in today’s last session B.15 ‘Young people, Violence and Homicide’ 17:00-18:30 (LT9 Level 0). Read her blog post here.

‘Here. Me. Now.: The goals and aspirations of young people living in communities labelled as gang affected’

If you are at the conference and are able to, please go along to show them some support and ask some questions/ give feedback. Don’t forget, we have some brilliant poster submissions from postgraduates, please do make sure you get a chance to check them out.

** Are you a postgraduate presenting at the conference this year? email me your details nicola.harading@stu.mmu.ac.uk, and I will also feature you on the blog **

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.

 

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