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.

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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

Call for Contributions

BSC Postgraduates, we need YOU! We are looking for contributions from the criminology postgraduate community, for the all new BSC Postgraduate Blog.

In order to showcase the interesting and cutting edge research that we know postgraduates in criminology are doing, we have opened a call for contributions to the new postgraduate blog. To become a contributor to the blog, we ask that in the first instance you email an expression of interest to nicola.harding@stu.mmu.ac.uk.

Initially all we need to know is a short (150 words max) biography. Including the subject of your PhD, your year of study and university. Additionally please briefly explain what you will blog about. Please enclose a portrait image that you are happy to include with your blog post, and your preferred contact email (also to be published with your blog post).

Once accepted, we will give you a deadline and guidance helping you to submit a 500-800 word blog. Once looked over by the editors, the blog will be published and shared to our mailing list, followers and on social media. We will send you an email with the link to your blog, which you will be able to share and add to your CV.

Blogging is a growing form of academic engagement, and is becoming increasingly valuable for networking and disseminating your research. We look forward to facilitating this for postgraduate students within criminology.

Hello & Welcome..

Hello & welcome to the British Society of Criminology Postgraduate Blog.

The Postgraduate Committee is a sub-committee of the BSC and comprises of postgraduate research students and academic staff from universities across the UK. The aim of the Postgraduate Committee is to further the interests of current postgraduate students of criminology and related disciplines, and build connections between postgraduate students and the BSC Executive.

The Postgraduate Committee organises workshops and seminars for postgraduate students throughout the year, including a postgraduate event prior to the annual BSC conference.

Best wishes,

Your PG Committee – Claire, Sarah, Gareth, Steve & Nicola

&

Social Media Team – Gillian, Jessica & Nicola

Key Links:

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(The blog is generally administrated by Nicola Harding currently, if you have any queries or would like to contribute please feel free to email nicola.harding@stu.mmu.ac.uk or find her on twitter @NicolaAnnHarding).