Police reforms and community policing in Poland 2017-2020 by Monika Baylis

Polish Police was established on the 24th of July 1919 by the Act of ‘’Sejm’’ – the lower chamber of Polish parliament of the Second Polish Republic and recently has celebrated its’ 95th birthday. Today, the organisation employs over 100.000 police officers and has just emerged on a new journey called ‘’A programme of modernization of Police, Customs and Boarder Services, Fire Service and Government Protection Bureau’’ allocated for the years between 2017 – 2020, proposed by a current Minister of Interior Affairs and Administration, Mr Mariusz Blaszczak in 2016 and accepted in 2017 by Polish ‘Sejm’. 

01-baylis-main2Monika Baylis who is in her final year of PhD at the University of Huddersfield, argues that the Act, which was a continuation of the previous Act dated from 2006 can be seen as ‘a fresh breath of air’ and much needed ‘’a wake-up call’’ to improve Police service in general which goes along with the view of Polish Police Federation (NSZZ) or NZZPZK expressed in an official letter directed towards Polish government in 2016, stating: ‘’Policja’ has been neglected for many years’’(NZZPZK; 2016, n.p).


Monika Baylis, University of Huddersfield

email: Monika.Baylis@hud.ac.uk  Twitter: @MonikaBaylis

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Monika Baylis with Polish Police – Warsaw airport – September 2017.

Polish Police is based on a centralized model of policing which is similar to Italian or French one. Since its creation in 1919, the organisation went through some difficult transformations by changing its’ name (e.i. from ‘Policja’ to ‘Milicja’ during the communist regime); structure and the role; reflecting some major political, economic and social changes of that times; the First; the Second World War; the Soviet Era, the fall of Communism in 1989; the birth of Polish capitalism in 1990. However, as some Polish academics argue, Polish Police known these days as ‘’Policja’’ faced considerable reforms that resulted in a restructuring of the entire policing model when Polish parliament passed a new Police Act that took effect on April 6,1990.

This Act organized the police force by allowing ‘’Policja’’ to combat crime through the new democratic political framework, where the Minister of Interior Affairs and Administration gained the administrative controls over the institution by becoming ‘’ultimately responsible for “enforcing all statutory tasks in the field of public safety and order” (Pływaczewski and Walancik, 2004, p. 93).

Other reforms occurred independently in 1995 and 1999, which restricted municipal public order forces; ‘Straz Miejska’/ ‘’Municipal guards’’ from using the official title of “police”, and added sub‐divisions within the nationalized force, therefore, widening the scope of Police work by including criminal service, prevention service, drug squads and anti‐terrorism squads.

In addition, the reforms of 1999 introduced major changes in the administrative structure of the police force as they created another level of checks on police power by requiring officers to report to both regional police chiefs and county‐level police chiefs for all police‐related matters. Therefore, each commander of the region and county become responsible for identifying and assessing problems specific to his/her jurisdictions; drug abuse, organized crime, or property crime and then allocating the appropriate resources to address each problem.

This can be seen as a policing model that echoes elements of Community Oriented Policing (COP) model found in the US and it has been argued that it was created to bring officers and community members closer together by forming a trust between police and a public. However, gaining a trust of society can be a tricky issue, especially in the country where people still remember the methods of policing used by Milicja during the Communism time, and recall or witnessed the ‘zero tolerance’ approach or ‘hard policing’ when it comes to public disorder or ‘’hooliganism’’, which is currently used by Polish Police. Therefore, there are mixed messages passed across the country; according to latest statistics published by CBOS in 2016, 65% of Polish public trusted the Police, while the remaining 27% did not. Moreover, recently Polish Media featured and questioned the Codes of Ethics of police officers who dealt with a famous case of detaining of 25 years old Igor Stachowiak from Wroclaw, who died in a police custody in May 2016.

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The Police protecting the main exit of Police Station in Wroclaw (Wyborcza.pl, 2017).

The footage appeared on one of the most popular Polish TV channels; TVN24, which prompted massive public and official reaction; public demonstrations in Wroclaw and the dismissal of officers involved in the case.

Although, the case of Igor is still controversial one in Poland, it is important to add that gaining a trust of any community can play an important role in the way the Police is being perceived by others as some scholars argue that people are more likely to obey the law when they believe in the legitimacy of police authority. Therefore, the community policing and Police reforms; ‘’the Programme of modernisation of Polish public services; Police; Customs and Boarder Services, Fire Service and Government Protection Bureau’’ have become a popular agenda in marketing materials of Polish Government or Polish Police. This can be seen as the latest mission to improve the organisation’s image and the existing model of policing by adding a new rank of NPT officer known as ‘’starszy dzielnicowy’’; using social media; Twitter; FB; National TV or by taking on more pro-active approach by helping out with the National Programme called ‘’Kreci Mnie Bezpieczenstwo’’ – ‘’ Safety first’’ funded by Polish Government, where police officers from prevention units regularly visit local schools and interact with children, young or elderly people by discussing different aspects of ‘safety’, Anti-Social Behaviour or crime.

The arguments presented above have become a part of my PhD Literature Review, however, what is more relevant is the fact, that by being a PhD researcher in Criminology I carried out in total 32 semi-structured interviews with Polish Police and Municipal Guards plus joined them on car and foot patrols between 2015 and 2016. The experience gained and my project, has provided me with a rich data with a basic message to pass on; ‘’The change is needed and welcome by police officers’’.

This can go along with the view represented by Polish Police Federation and a current Minister of Interior Affairs and Administration; Mr Mariusz Blaszczak as both sources keep pointing out that it is high time to bring a modern technology; body worn cameras; faster cars and improve officers’ conditions of work by re-opening and refurbishing police stations; adding updated system of communication or increasing officers’ salary to bring a positive change into the formation and improve the morale in general.

Finally, a recent report carried out by NIK (National Audit Office) in 2016, revealed that there is still plenty to do; increasing hours of Police training, introducing new equipment, and finally defining the role of the NPT officer itself. Yes, the list is vast and some work; testing body worn cameras; opening new police station or signing on new ammunition’s suppliers has been in the process but there are still three years left to be able to comment on the current work of Polish government and the evaluation of the reforms shall be carried out afterwards to see ‘’what works’’ or could be changed in the future. Therefore, a waiting game is on and let’s hope all actors involved will get it right as the safety of Polish public and the future of Polish Police is depending on the decisions of current government and the Chief Constable; Dr Jaroslaw Szymczyk.

Reference List:

Czapska, J., Radomska, E., and Wojcik, D. (2014), ‘’Police Legitimacy, Procedural Justice, and Cooperation with the Police: A Polish Perspective’’: Journal of Criminal Justice & Security, Vol. 16 Issue 4, p453-470. 18p.

Cebulak, W. and Pływaczewski, E. (2000), “Poland: developing nation-state”, in Barak, G. (Ed.), Crime and Crime Control: A Global View, Greenwood Press, Westport, CT, pp. 163-76.

Haberfeld, M. P., Walanick, A., & Barrtel, U. E. (2003). Community policing in Poland, final report. National Institute of Justice, (NIJ #199360). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice.

Ivkovic, S. and Haberfeld, M. (2000), “Transformation from militia to police in Croatia and Poland – a comparative perspective”, Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies

& Management, Vol. 23 No. 2, pp. 194-217.

Kancelaria Sejmu RP (2017), ‘’Dz.U. 1990 nr 30 poz. 179; Ustawa z dnia 6 kwietnia 1990 r. o Policji’’, Available from:  http://prawo.sejm.gov.pl/isap.nsf/DocDetails.xsp?id=WDU19900300179

KGP, (2017) ‘’USTAWA O MODERTNIZACJI POLSKIEJ POLICJI PRZYJETA’’, Available from: http://www.policja.pl/pol/aktualnosci/4432,Ustawa-o-modernizacji-Policji-przyjeta.html

Ministerswto Spraw Wewnetrznych I Administracji, (2016), ‘’Projekt ustawy o ustanowieniu „Programu modernizacji Policji, Straży Granicznej, Państwowej Straży Pożarnej i Biura Ochrony Rządu w latach 2017-2020”, Available from: https://bip.mswia.gov.pl/bip/projekty-aktow-prawnyc/2016/24051,Projekt-ustawy-o-ustanowieniu-Programu-modernizacji-Policji-Strazy-Granicznej-Pa.html

Misiuk, A. (2008) ‘’Historia Policji w Polsce. Od X Wieku do Współczesności’’, Wydawnictwa Akademickie i Profesjonalne.

NIK, (2016), ‘’NIK o pracy dzielnicowych’’, Available from: https://www.nik.gov.pl/aktualnosci/nik-o-pracy-dzielnicowych.html

NIST, (n.d.) ‘’Starszy dzielnicowy – awans dla dobra wspólnoty samorządowej’’, Available from: https://www.nist.gov.pl/serwis-obywatelsko-samorzadowy/starszy-dzielnicowy—awans-dla-dobra-wspolnoty-samorzadowej,428.html

Nowak, M, (2017) ‘’Polska Policja radzi, jak… schować się przed policjantem. Kto prowadzi im konta na Facebooku i Twitterze?’’, Available from: https://www.spidersweb.pl/2017/05/polska-policja-facebook-twitter.html

NZZPZ, (2016), ‘’Pan Mariusz Blaszczak Minister Spraw Wewnetrznych I Administracji WARSZAWA; WNIOSEK, Available from: https://bip.mswia.gov.pl/bip/projekty-aktow-prawnyc/2016/24051,Projekt-ustawy-o-ustanowieniu-Programu-modernizacji-Policji-Strazy-Granicznej-Pa.html

NSZZ, (2016), ‘’Wniosek o dodatek specjalny dla OPP i SPPP trafił na biurko Komendanta Głównego Policji’’, Available from: http://nszzp.pl/najwazniejsze-wiadomosci/wniosek-o-dodatek-specjalny-dla-opp-sppp-trafil-biurko-komendanta-glownego-policji/

Policja.pl, (n.d.), ‘’Historia’’, Available from: http://www.info.policja.pl/inf/historia

Policja.pl, (n.d.) ‘’Kampania MSWiA „Kręci mnie bezpieczeństwo”, Available from: http://www.policja.pl/pol/aktualnosci/142091,Ruszyla-kampania-MSWiA-Kreci-mnie-bezpieczenstwo.html

Policja.pl, (n.d.) ‘’Komendant Glowny Policji’’, Available from: http://www.info.policja.pl/inf/kierownictwo-i-struktu/komendanci/86241,Komendanci.html

Policja.pl, (n.d.) ‘’Zero tolerancji dla kiboli i chuliganów stadionowych’’, Available from: http://www.policja.pl/pol/aktualnosci/138687,Zero-tolerancji-dla-kiboli-i-chuliganow-stadionowych.html

Policja.pl, (2016) ‘’Wiekszosc Polakow Deklaruje zaufanie do Policji’’, Available from: http://www.policja.pl/pol/aktualnosci/122393,Wiekszosc-Polakow-deklaruje-swoje-zaufanie-do-Policji.html

Policja.pl, (n.d.) ‘’Nowe posterunki’’, Available from: http://www.policja.pl/pol/tagi/7816,nowe-posterunki.html

Pływaczewski, E. and Walancik, P. (2004), “Challenges and changes to the police system in

Poland”, in Caparini, M. and Marenin, O. (Eds), Transforming Police in Central and

Eastern Europe: Process and Progress, Transaction Publishers, London, pp. 93-114.

Summers, D. and Plywaczewski, E. (2012), ‘’The Polish context Examining issues of police reform, drug use and drug trafficking in a transitioning democracy’’: Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, Vol. 35 Issue: 2, pp.231-252,

TVN24, (2017), ‘’Policja testuje kamery mundurowe. Docelowo mają rejestrować wszystkie interwencje (http://www.tvn24.pl)’’, Available from: https://fakty.tvn24.pl/ogladaj-online,60/policja-testuje-kamery-mundurowe-docelowo-maja-rejestrowac-wszystkie-interwencje,744485.html

TVN24, (2017), ‘’Sprawa śmierci Igora Stachowiaka. “Dążymy do tego, by policjanci byli wyposażeni w tasery” (http://www.tvn24.pl)’’, Available from: https://www.tvn24.pl/wiadomosci-z-kraju,3/igor-stachowiak-zmarl-na-komisariacie-policja-o-uzywaniu-paralizatora,741922.html

University of Huddersfield, (2017) ‘’Same page or poles apart – policing anti-social behaviour’’, Available from: http://www-old.hud.ac.uk/news/2017/january/samepageorpolesapartpolicinganti-socialbehaviour.php

 

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Building Foundations- A message for those at the start of their PhD.

As we start a new academic year, our Chair reflects on the early stages of the PhD.

So much of the early stages of the PhD is understanding the PhD process and what is expected of you. Where is the bar we’re aiming for? What level of writing? What level of knowledge? What level of analysis? An original contribution to what now?! It’s learning; how you work, how you write, how you get the best out of yourself. Building relationships, with other PhD students, with your supervisors, with your networks. Building resilience. Building confidence. And learning the field, learning your research topic. That in-depth knowledge of your topic begins from year one.

We’re in the PhD for the long haul. It is, as many say, a marathon. And the PhD can take over your life, and the lives of people around you. What do you mean people aren’t interested in discussing Goffman and Foucault?! The PhD has a presence with you, in your mind, a companion. The things you put in place in the first year need to make sense for the distance. You can’t sprint or push through for the whole of the PhD. There may be sprinting moments, but the way you work needs to be sustainable for the longevity. Be kind to yourself. Build practices that make sense for you and make sense for the marathon.

The first part of the PhD is important. It feels like nothing is happening and you’re getting nowhere. But this is building your foundations; your working practices, your knowledge, your confidence. And your PhD rests on these foundations. They are essential. It may feel like you’re lost in those early days, going down blind alleys of reading, different directions, different distractions. Is this relevant? Is it important? It may feel that you’re not achieving anything, going around in circles. But the foundation-building of the first year is fundamental. Trust that it is important. You absolutely need it. It makes for a strong PhD resting on solid ground.

This stage matters. You’re doing the building. Be patient. Be sensible. Be kind to yourself.

Claire Davis, BSC Postgraduate Chair.

 

Thinking Differently in Youth Justice: changing and challenging the youth justice system

Roxanna is a Lecturer at Leicester Law School, University of Leicester and has recently defended her PhD thesis. Roxanna’s research, funded by the University of Leicester, examines the implementation of the appropriate adult safeguard in police custody for vulnerable adult suspects. Roxanna’s research has involved qualitative research methods (non-participant observation in custody and semi-structured interviews with custody officers). As the appropriate adult safeguard is also required for young people, Roxanna has also developed a keen interest in youth justice. She has written a paper on the vulnerability of children and young people in police custody to be published in the Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law in November 2017.


The following blog post gives a brief overview of some of the themes arising from the ‘Thinking Differently in Youth Justice’ conference held at the University of Leicester on 25 April 2017. Roxanna was responsible for organising the conference, alongside Sarah Brooks-Wilson. If you would like to contact Roxanna, you can email her roxanna.dehaghani@le.ac.uk or tweet her @roxanna_law.

http://www2.le.ac.uk/departments/law/people/roxanna-fatemi-dehaghani 

The ‘Thinking Differently’ series was established so as to create a space for postgraduates to challenging taken-for-granted thinking in criminology and criminal justice. This second event – on the area of youth justice – brought together practitioners, established academics, and PhD candidates at various stages of their studies. The day began with a talk by Prof Hannah Smithson (who has been labeled a ‘pracademic’) who spoke about ‘Knowledge Transfer and Youth Justice’. In her talk, Hannah highlighted that many young people are neglected in discussions surrounding youth justice. She urged that inclusion, whilst vital, must ensure representativeness: central in this should be the voice of young people (and not just one, but many). The youth-centred focus must exist, not simply in policy and practice circles, but too in academic fora. The youth-focused approach continued through Anne-Marie Day’s talk, which teased-out the various concerns of looked-after children (as part of her PhD, Anne-Marie interviewed looked-after children). These concerns included not being heard, and being labelled, dehumanized, bullied, and separated from their birth families. Anne-Marie also raised the issue of the ‘paper self’: young people felt that what was written in their risk assessment took over their identity and they became the ‘bad’ child or the ‘mad’ child. Both of these talks drew attention to how important the child’s voice is within the youth justice arean.

Dr Kate Gooch and Piers von Berg then examined some legal aspects pertaining to the detention of young suspects in police custody. Highlighting that the police custody suite is the ‘gateway’ to the criminal process and that it is ‘out of sight, out of mind’, Kate and Piers urged that we reconsider how young suspects are treated within police custody. In particular, they drew attention to the lack of a complete policy agenda and the absence of national guidance on how to interview a child. Within this context, they urged for the maxim ‘Child First, Suspect Second’, although they recognized that currently the opposite is very much true. The ‘child first’ approach seems to be more closely adhered to in Scotland, as explored in Fern Gillon’s talk on Early and Effective Investigation (EEI). The Scottish approach may, particularly for a criminologist hailing from England, Wales or Northern Ireland, seem wonderful. Yet, as Fern highlighted, it was far from perfect: although there were claims that the system was free from power relations, the reality is such that the police act as gatekeepers and it is they who decide which cases go through to EEI. The main question raised by Fern was whether the Scottish system of EEI is effective and working or whether it is simply better than the alternative.

Power relations and the silencing of young people are not the only problems within the youth justice landscape: as the panel (comprised of Jayne Louise Price, Shantey Francis and Sarah Brooks-Wilson) highlighted, other problems exist such as: what happens to those transitioning from the youth to the adult justice system? What type of environment is required for children and young people to flourish? Are children and young people being adequately supported? Do they face social exclusion and a lack of mobility? And how does this exclusion and lack of mobility impact upon their treatment within the justice system? Prof Jo Phoenix’s highlighted some further worrying trends in her talk on the death of youth justice: not only have YOTs staff declined sharply, the decline has been more deeply felt for sessional and casual staff and volunteers, i.e. those who spend more time with young people. Jo urged the audience to consider whether falling numbers of children and young people entering the system really equated to a more just system and highlighted the unachievable goal of ‘justice’ in a society marked by social inequality. Her talk also served as a call for youth justice researchers to start thinking more radically and to see past the current systems of youth governance and youth justice.

In all, the day contained two pertinent lessons. The first was that we need to consider the voice of the child and the second was that we need to think of new ways of providing justice for children and young people. The day also highlighted the massive appetite amongst youth justice researchers for future networking, discussion, and collaboration. With this in mind we are thinking of ways to facilitate this through the British Society of Criminology and/or the BSC Postgraduate Committee. Watch this space!

PhD Blog – How can we make sense of the experiences of a growing number of Eastern European women in English prisons?

1448056554235This new contribution to the PhG guest blog is from Magdalena Tomaszewska. Magdalena is a second-year PhD candidate at the University of Surrey. Her PhD explores the treatment and experiences of female Eastern European prisoners in England and Wales (particularly those from the A8 and A2 accession countries to the EU). Working across 3 prisons in England and a third sector organisation providing support for female foreign national prisoners, she examines the lived realities of incarceration for these women, taking into account their socio-cultural backgrounds, relationships with staff and other prisoners, and the effects of the penal policy shifts which have prioritised removal of ‘foreigners’.

This project builds on her Masters research which explored the experiences of female foreign national prisoners in one prison in the South East of England and has been awarded Howard League’s John Sunley prize. Magdalena’s broad research interests lie in the area exploring linkages between identity, imprisonment and immigration control, especially in the context of women’s imprisonment. Alongside her doctoral studies, she is working with the University College London and a user-led charity User Voice co-coordinating a large-scale trial testing the merits of mentalisation based treatment (MBT) for offenders diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder (ASPD).

Contact: m.tomaszewska@surrey.ac.uk


How can we make sense of the experiences of a growing number of Eastern European women in English prisons?

Anna, originally from the Czech Republic, came to the UK at the age of 10 and has lived here ever since. After committing a drug-related offence, she was sentenced to just over 3 years imprisonment. In addition to her custodial term she was also informed that she was going to be deported from the UK on the completion of her sentence, since, as it was explained to her, as a ‘foreign criminal’ she had ‘no right to remain in the UK’. She was released from HMP Peterborough earlier this year having successfully appealed her case.

Anna is one of a growing number of Eastern European women currently held in prisons throughout England and Wales. Since 2004, when 11 countries of the former Eastern Bloc[1] joined the European Union, the number of female prisoners originating from these countries has risen dramatically (even though the overall proportion of foreign nationals in the female estate has remained at a 11%) (MoJ, 2016). Today, within a population which counts nearly 80 countries, every third inmate comes from Eastern Europe, with Poland and Romania as the top two. Overall however, these women have remained invisible, apart from a handful of third sector accounts which emphasize their vulnerability to exploitation through trafficking (e.g. Prison Reform Trust, 2012), or press reports which lump them together with men, portraying them under the label of ‘dangerous Eastern European criminals’[2], and with it fuelling the demands for more streamlined deportations.[3]

Both of these perspectives are problematic. For one, given the difficulty in identifying victims of trafficking via the National Referral Mechanism it is tricky to assess how big a problem trafficking is amongst the incarcerated East European women (Gelsthorpe and Hales, 2012). It would be difficult to deduce that from the nature of offences which predominantly land them in prison, which PRT (2012) reports as theft and handling or drugs offences. At the same time, violent offences among this population are lower than for their British counterparts. Majority serve their first and only prison sentences, with a ‘very low’ risk of reoffending. In this sense, there is also little to support the argument that these women are especially dangerous.

These discussions however divert attention away from the changes that have already taken root in the female prison system. When Anna arrived at HMP Bronzefield in 2013, it had been 5 years since the UK Borders Act 2007 came into power, requiring all EEA nationals sentenced to more than 2 years imprisonment to be – in line with section 32 (5) of the Act – mandatorily deported from the UK[4]. This, as Kaufman (2012) has shown, was further accompanied by broader logistical arrangements between the Prison Service and the Home Office under the ‘hubs and spokes’ agreement, whereby non-citizens (especially those under deportation orders) are to be concentrated in specific foreign national ‘hub’ prisons which are furnished with full time immigration staff who are to facilitate a more efficient deportation process.

In 2013, on the recommendation of the NOMS Women’s Custodial Estate Review (2013), this system was adopted in the female estate. As the report advised, a female foreign national hub was to be created at HMP Peterborough, ‘taking into account best practice from the male hub and spoke system’ (p.6). Much like in the male estate then, the female prison system took it upon itself to systematically identify and segregate women who ‘do not belong in the UK’.

In my research I explore the experiences of currently the largest regional group within the female foreign prison population – Eastern European women – who ‘do time’ under these conditions. Taking inspiration from the scholarship which looks to questions about identity at the intersection of gender, race, and class to cast light on the prison as a space ‘permeated’ by broader social inequalities (e.g. Phillips and Earle, 2011; Bosworth and Kaufman, 2012), I am interviewing currently and formerly incarcerated Eastern European women as well as a range of practitioners working with them (prison officers, legal case workers), documenting accounts like that of Anna, who shortly before being transferred to HMP Peterborough was told by one prisoner that this was a place where “all you Russian prostitutes go to”, and where she could, according to one prison officer, “find the support of those with the same “culture”. Politics of identity, as Kaufman (2012, p. 18) observes, ‘are central to the practice of punishment’.

Stories such as Anna’s can offer new insights into this work, especially when it comes to documenting the relationship between imprisonment and nationality. Authors such as Emma Kaufman and Mary Bosworth have led this effort, developing illuminating accounts on how the practice of deportation and treatment of many non-citizens caught up in it (especially those originating from former British colonies) implicates the British prison in the exercise of ‘collective [postcolonial] amnesia’. The positioning of East European prisoners like Anna clearly doesn’t fit this frame. Instead, it seems to speak to anxieties about more recent, ‘suspect white’ migrants from poorer parts of Europe, who, although conform to racialized understandings of what it means to be European, are subject to gendered, classed and racialized framing as ‘other’, based on language and cultural difference (Bhui, 2016).

Thinking more broadly about the emerging themes, many important changes are currently taking place in the arena of British immigration policy. As the fieldwork for this project gathers pace, the British government is set to start the process of taking the UK out of the European Union. Although it seems that for now, the topic of foreign national prisoners as well as the specifics of immigration policy where it crosses paths with the prison system remain lower down the list of negotiation priorities for Theresa May, it is yet to be seen what effect Brexit will have on the carceral lives of the growing ranks of female prisoners from Eastern Europe (as well as those from wider EU) held in British penitentiary institutions. For Anna, one thing was clear: “Learn to live with uncertainty”.

References

Bhui, H. (2016), ‘Place of Race in understanding immigration control and the detention of foreign nationals’, Criminology and Criminal Justice, 16 (3), pp. 267 – 285.

Bosworth, M. and Kaufman, E. (2012), ‘Gender and Punishment’, in Simon, J. and Sparks, R. (eds.) Handbook of Punishment and Society, London: Sage.

Gelsthorpe, L. and Hales, L. (2012), ‘Criminalisation of Migrant Women’, Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge, UK, available at: http://www.crim.cam.ac.uk/people/academic_research/loraine_gelsthorpe/criminalreport29july12.pdf.

Kaufman, E. (2012), ‘Finding Foreigners: Race and the Politics of Memory in British Prisons’, Population, Space and Place, 18 (6), pp. 701 – 714.

Ministry of Justice (2016), Offender Management Caseload Statistics 2016, London Ministry of Justice.

National Offender Management Service (2013), Women’s Custodial Estate Review, available at: http://socialwelfare.bl.uk/subject-areas/services-client-groups/adult-offenders/nationaloffendermanagementservice/155762womens-custodial-estate-review.pdf.

Phillips, C. and Earle, R. (2011), ‘Cultural diversity, ethnicity and race relations in prison’ in Crewe, B. and Bennett, J. (eds.) The Prisoner, London: Routledge.

Prison Reform Trust (2012), ‘No way out: A briefing paper on foreign national women in prison in England and Wales’, (online), available at: http://www.prisonreformtrust.org.uk/portals/0/documents/nowayout.pdf.

Footnotes

[1] The 2004 A8 accession countries include: Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia. The 2007 A2 accession countries include: Bulgaria and Romania. In 2013 Croatia also joined the EU.

[2] See for example: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2614279/Poland-tops-league-foreign-inmates-UK-jails-ahead-Ireland-Jamaica.html.

[3] See for example: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3622924/EU-killers-rapists-ve-failed-deport-UK-s-inability-expel-thousands-foreign-criminals-undermines-case-EU-say-MPs.html, https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/2291020/more-than-130-polish-criminals-jailed-in-the-uk-should-have-been-deported-in-past-four-years-bungling-officials-admit/, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/eu-referendum-more-than-13000-foreign-criminals-awaiting-deportation-from-uk-a7063026.html.

[4] This rule also applies to all non-EEA nationals sentenced to more than 1 year in prison.

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

PhD Blog – Communication is key: Why does Communication in Youth Justice Matter?

 

As we resume our PhD guest blog series after the summer break, this weeks blog is from Gabriella Simak.
Profile_PictureGabriella is in the 3rd year of a PhD in Criminology and Criminal Justice at Bangor University. Her research interests are related to youth justice policy, more specifically the use of restorative justice models in the current retributive framework of youth justice. Gabriella’s PhD is exploring how the speech, language and communication needs/difficulties affect restorative justice in the context of referral orders in England and Wales. Her project employs a mixed methods approach, including a wealth of data from interviews with YOT practitioners, Speech and Language Therapists, non-participant observation of Youth Offender Panel meetings, and case level quantitative data on young people sentenced to referral orders.
Gabriella has an MA in Comparative Criminology and Criminal Justice. Her dissertation focused on the implementation of Family Group Conferencing in Welsh Youth Justice Services, titled Youth Justice in Wales: Possibilities through the Family Group Conferencing Model.  Gabriella is originally from Canada, and completed her undergraduate degree in Criminology and Sociology at the University of Toronto – making her a truly international criminologist! This blog post showcases her PhD work to date. If you wish to contact Gabriella about her research, please email sop00f@bangor.ac.uk.
Communication is key: Why does Communication in Youth Justice Matter?

This study explored how communication impacts restorative justice measures in the context of referral orders, including whether reparation to the victim and to the wider community is possible for young people with communication difficulties in England and Wales.

Research questions:

  • How are speech language and communication needs (SLCNs) identified in Youth Offending Teams (YOTs) for young people on Referral Orders?
  • How do communication needs of young people affect the reparation process in Youth Offender Panel (YOP) meetings?
  • How young people’s SLCNs affect referral order outcomes?
    • Hypothesis: Young people with SLCNs are more likely to breach their referral orders than those without.

Speech, language and communication needs refer to “a wide range of difficulties related to all aspects of communication in children and young people. These can include difficulties with fluency, forming sounds and words, formulating sentences, understanding what others say, and using language socially” (Bercow, 2008: 13). Key research points to the difficulties young people with SLCNs face when engaging with services within the young justice system. Recent studies have estimates the prevalence of SLCNs in the young offender population to be up to 60% (Gregory and Bryan, 2007: 507), whereas 6% in the general population in the UK (Law, et al. 2010). Communication difficulties, such as lack of understanding, poor vocabulary and difficulties with expressive language have a negative impact on how young people’s behaviour is perceived by YOT (Youth Offending Team) practitioners (Gregory and Bryan, 2009: 8). Research shows that young people with low levels of language ability are likely struggle particularly with verbally mediated interventions (Bryan and Gregory, 2013: 360). Referral Orders were introduced by the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 and should operate on the restorative justice principles of responsibility, reparation and reintegration (Ministry of Justice, 2015: 10).

This project explored the impact on young people’s SLCNs on referral orders using a mixed methods approach. Twenty two YOTs with seconded Speech and Language Therapists (SLTs) were identified and approached (Five in Wales and 17 in England). Participants included: YOT Case Managers, Referral Order Coordinators, Early Intervention Officers, Volunteer Community Panel Members (VCPMs) and seconded SLTs from a total of 16 YOTs. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with participants in person, over the telephone and interview questions were available in questionnaire format for participants’ convenience. Non-participant observations of Youth Offender Panel meetings were undertaken, including initial and review panel meetings. Finally, quantitative case level data were collected from one YOT in Wales to answer the third research question.

Practitioners interviewed mostly agreed that there was a large prevalence of SLCNs in young people on referral orders and that communication is of great importance in referral order processes. Young people mask their SLCNs by adapting behaviour that may be perceived and misinterpreted as difficult by YOT practitioners. The two main themes emerging were SLT service provision and SLTs role within the YOTs and the second theme was practitioners effectively engaging and communicating with young people with SLCNs during the referral order process. There were differences of SLT service provision within individual YOTs in terms of the SLTs role, such as screening young people, referral to SLTs by YOT Case Managers, and whether the SLT was able to provide intervention for those young people with identified SLCNs. Similarities in the role of SLTs were training of YOT practitioners in SLCN awareness and engaging young people in interventions. SLTs had an important role of providing material for YOT practitioners and a consultancy role for practitioners to discuss particular cases. In Wales, there was a need for bilingual English and Welsh SLT service provision for those young people who are more comfortable using Welsh.

In terms of YOP observations, VCPMs’ level of experience in engaging young people greatly differed with more experienced volunteers engaging more effectively with young people during panel meetings. Volunteer panel members were provided information through the referral order report written by the YOT Case Manager, including the Asset assessment, which informed panel members’ approach to engaging young people in a dialogue. Reparation directly to the victim was affected by young people’s SLCNs in terms of their ability to express themselves both verbally and participating in reparative activities.

Just like any programme based on restorative justice principles, referral orders assume open communication between stakeholders. However, effective communication is lacking, a power imbalance is created which hinders reparation and restoration of the harm. Most interventions in referral order processes are verbally conducted, and require young people to understand and process complex information. Consequently identification and appropriate support of young people with SLCNs is of great importance in order to successfully complete referral orders, young people must be able to communicate with other stakeholders. Analysis of case level data on young people with SLCNs indicate that there is no significant relationship between young people’s SLCNs and their referral order completion/breach rates. Therefore the hypothesis was rejected.

 

References:

BERCOW, J., 2008. The Bercow Report A Review of Services for Children and Young People (0–19) with Speech, Language and Communication Needs. Nottingham, England: DCSF Publications.

BRYAN, K., FREER, J. and FURLONG, C., 2007. Language and communication difficulties in juvenile offenders. International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders, 42(5), pp. 505-520.

BRYAN, K. and GREGORY, J., 2013. Perceptions of staff on embedding speech and language therapy within a youth offending team. Child Language Teaching and Therapy, 29(3), pp. 359-371.

BRYAN, K., 2004. Preliminary study of the prevalence of speech and language difficulties in young offenders. International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders, 39(3), pp. 391-400.

GREGORY, J. and BRYAN, K., 2009. Evaluation of the Leeds Speech and Language Therapy Service provision within the Intensive Supervision and Surveillance Programme provided by the Leeds Youth Offending Team. Leeds% 20SLT% 20report% 20Jun% 2010a.pdf (accessed 12 December 2010).

LAW, J., GARRETT, Z. and NYE, C., 2010. Speech and language therapy interventions for children with primary speech and language delay or disorder (Review). Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (3), pp. 1-79.

MINISTRY OF JUSTICE, 2015. Referral Order Guidance. United Kingdom: Ministry of Justice.

 

#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.

 

#BSCconf16 experience – Sophie Pike

Sophie Pike attended the BSC Conference in Nottingham last week and has kindly written a blog of her experience of the conference. Sophie presented a brilliant paper under the ‘Homicide Investigation’ panel – a widely tweeted about panel session!  If you would like to contact Sophie about her PhD or research interests please email – Sophie.Pike@southwales.ac.uk or you can find her on twitter at Twitter at @MissSophie84.

 

Last week I attended the British Society of Criminology conference for the first time.  It was a really informative event and this blog post will give an insight into my experiences of attending.

As well as attending the conference for the first time, I was asked to present as part of a panel that my PhD supervisor, Professor Fiona Brookman, established to address the topic homicide, which was entitled ‘Homicide Investigation: UK and USA Research Findings’.  Dr Cheryl Allsop and I presented on our forthcoming paper ‘The Changing Face of Homicide Investigations – only the crime is fixed in time’.  Based on our PhD research, the talk consisted of two parts.  Firstly, I discussed some of my findings in respect of how the investigation of homicide in England and Wales has changed since the 1980s, before Cheryl explained how these changes, particularly scientific and technological changes, have enabled investigators to resolve cold cases many years after they originally occurred.  I have always found it helpful to present my PhD research and have done so at several stages over the last few years; it helps to develop your ability to justify your topic and your approach along with your ability to answer questions about the research, all of which will be helpful when it comes to the Viva.  It was great to speak to people afterwards and hear them say that they enjoyed the talk and are interested in my work – I even spoke to a prospective external examiner.  Our panel was very well received and many people commented on how they liked and found useful that each of the three talks were linked to each other.

One of the things that I most enjoyed about the conference was the diversity of the talks – there were plenty to choose from and it was not easy to decide what to go along to!  This was particularly the case with the postgraduate sessions on the first day.  In the end I opted for the session on publishing in journals and books.  It is my intention to convert my thesis into a book and there were plenty of helpful tips on how to do this. I found the hints around developing a book proposal especially helpful and I hope to put them to good use soon.  As well as attending sessions that were more closely related to my research and areas of interest, such as the session on miscarriages of justice, I attended others that I was interested in, but knew less about.  For example, I attended particularly interesting sessions on joint enterprise and animal abuse.  It was helpful to learn about new topics and to see the very different ways in which people of all different experiences conduct their research and how they present that work.

My first experience of attending and presenting at the British Society of Criminology conference did not disappoint.  It was, as ever, valuable, to present my own work and to learn more about areas that were new to me.  The importance of networking also cannot be underestimated and it was great to meet new people (including those whose names I recognised from books and journals!) and to spend time with colleagues – heading to the pub to watch the football and chatting over several glasses of wine at the conference dinner!  I would definitely recommend that other postgraduate students attend the conference if they get the chance.

 

Picture credit @BritSocCrim / Twitter

What now criminology? Anna Matczak

Anna Matczack is a PhD researcher and criminologist at London School of Economics and Political Science. She recently attended the BSC conference in Nottingham and has written this review. You can find the original review at Anna’s blog https://annamatczak.com/2016/07/11/what-now-criminology/, and contact her on twitter @MatczakAnia.
Ana also presented her poster at the BSC conference, take a look below:

20160707_141110-01(1)

 

‘Everything starts at the crime scene’, said Professor Peter Squires in the first session of the British Society of Criminology conference, which I attended last week in Nottingham. So what is criminology really for? To answer this question Professor Squires put forward a number of stimulating remarks. The obvious function is to provide voices for the excluded but criminology must also remain critical in questioning authority and the power to punish. As all of the conference presentations demonstrated well, the criminological thinking in Britain has been informed by a variety of robust and interesting research. Nonetheless, according to Professor Squires, the purpose of this should not be to advance criminology as such but to have a say about the quality of justice in a given society. What the profession needs more are critical criminologists who acknowledge the broader context of crime and punishment and take the research evidence further.

The broader context of current criminology affairs was then discussed by two conference plenary speakers, Will Hutton and Professor Kelly Hannah Moffat. Will Hutton addressed, among other things, the fact that criminology should better accommodate the notion of inequality as its levels have become exceptionally dysfunctional. This observation was later interestingly echoed in a couple of sessions in which I participated. For example Dr John Moore’s presentation, Built For Inequality in a Diverse World: A Brief History of Criminal Justice showed brilliantly how important is to understand the origins of the criminal justice system, which was built on the premise of and destined for inequality; therefore criminal justice systems in general will probably never become the best mechanisms through which to achieve social justice. Furthermore, as we know there are different kinds of inequalities and Professor Harry Blagg’s presentation, Southern Theory and Southern Criminology: A Postcolonial Critique demonstrated how to maintain a critical stance towards the unequal production of criminological knowledge. Based on his observations related to the situation of indigenous populations in Australia, Professor Blagg said that the information from the ‘Global South’ becomes knowledge only if it is processed by the ‘Global North’. In the light of this highly pertinent argument, my own reflection would be that there is a significant imbalance in the knowledge recognition within the Global North itself, for example between Western and Eastern European countries.

The choice of the conference theme proved that criminology is capable of accommodating and discussing the notion of inequality. However it is still debatable whether the same applies to achieving practical outcomes, or in other words how to do public criminology well. A very interesting remark was made by a member of the audience after Will Hutton’s lecture – universities are institutions that are good at creating a sense of purpose and moral alignment but they are not good at creating conditions for moral actions. This point was played out in another session that I attended, entitled What is to be done about crime and punishment? Professor Roger Matthews, who chaired the session, made a rather strong introductory statement, saying that contemporary criminology has become theoretically weak and empirically dubious, and has no policy relevance and as a result is disentangled with the real world. Although this claim was then challenged by Professor Philip Stenning, who said that the problem lies in the political elites who are not listening, not in criminologists, in my view Professor Matthews’ opening comment was an interesting provocation that aimed to generate emotions, and possibly actions. Professor Roger Matthews’s point was that the contemporary research might be informative and interesting but lacks a tangible policy impact. To prove that research can be communicated differently he then introduced three panellists (who are also contributors to his new book, What is to Be Done About Crime and Punishment? Towards a ‘Public Criminology’) who presented fascinating and policy-focused papers on policing (Professor Ben Bowling), drug policy (Dr Caroline Chatwin) and youth gangs (Professor John Pitts).

The organization of the conference made it evident that there is an enormous willingness to engage with the wider public on the part of criminologists. Communicating criminological thinking in the form of blogging, tweeting, or poster presentations interestingly mirrored Professor Kelly Hannah Maffot’s plenary lecture, which made me rethink how criminologists have increasingly become involved in networked social activism. Nonetheless, as indicated by Professor Kelly Hannah Moffat, risk is constructed in a non-neutral way and the production of knowledge about crime in times of an information avalanche has begun to be constructed by new tech-savvy players – it is worth remembering that the profession of criminologists is only one of these players. Although we might strive for real and tangible policy outcomes, we also have to consider carefully how we should take our research to the next level.

On a more personal note, the conference took place in the shadow of the Brexit vote – a subject that appeared in almost every presentation and informal conversation. I might be a PhD candidate at a great university with promising career prospects. However since 24th June it has felt as if my identity has been limited to the ‘migrant other’. Attending the BSC conference somehow helped alleviate my disappointment in the referendum outcome and recreate a sense of belonging. I should not forget that Britain will always be the place where I gained my very first research experience, met inspirational academics and made a beginning as a criminologist. The conference experience reminded me of how much I have learnt and developed throughout my academic migrant years in the UK.

Whatever the future holds for me professionally, I promised myself to deeply cherish this thought.