Table of Contents


Title page

Copyright page

Preface and Acknowledgements

1 Introduction: Neoliberalism, Crime and Control

Neoliberalism: The Revolution of the Rich

‘Root Causes’ or ‘Realism’?

Neoliberalism, Anomie, Crime and Control

Ethics and Individual Responsibility

2 An Inspector Calls: Putting Crime in its Place

3 A Mephistophelean Calculus: Measuring Crime Trends

What are the Crime Statistics?

Problems of Interpreting Police Recorded Crime Statistics

Alternatives to the Police Statistics

What Happened? Unravelling Crime Patterns and Trends

Conclusion: The Politicization of Crime Statistics

4 Permissiveness versus Political Economy: Explaining Crime Trends

Blame it on the Sixties

Political Economy and Permissiveness

Five Necessary Conditions of Crime

What’s It All About? Explaining Postwar Crime Trends

5 A New Leviathan? Law and Order Politics and Tough Crime Control

The Rise of Law and Order Politics

The Crime Control Consensus

The Toughening of Crime Control

New Labour, Old Punitiveness

Explaining Toughness

Tough on Crime? Assessing the Impact of Law and Order

6 Conclusion: Law and Order – A 20:20 Vision



Title page

Preface and Acknowledgements

The media are saturated with dramatic crime stories; public concern and political argument about crime and its control are more intense than ever throughout the Western world. In Britain, the government itself speaks of the criminal justice system as not fit for purpose in the twenty-first century, and pledges to ‘rebalance’ and modernize it – again and again. Paradoxically this comes after more than a decade of falling crime rates. This is only one of the many ways in which the febrile discourse of law and order is out of kilter with a more sober and measured analysis.

The aim of this book is to inject some of the findings of the extensive research conducted by criminologists into the public debate on crime and control. Its main thesis is likely to be controversial and disputed, however, even among criminologists. The core thread running through the book is the argument that neoliberalism, the increasing penetration of free market principles and practices into all spheres of life, is the fundamental factor underlying both the threats of crime and violence, and increasingly authoritarian control tactics.

The abandonment of the more regulated and welfarist mixed economy strategy that prevailed in the three decades after World War II, often looked back on now – for all its faults – as a golden age of widely shared economic progress and security, was a Faustian bargain. We are learning that there is a high price to be paid for the fantastic wealth of some and the glittering baubles enjoyed by many: growing unhappiness, family breakdown, mental illness – especially among the young – looming environmental catastrophe, financial and physical insecurities and risks of many kinds.

The crimes that are focused on by the media act as a lightning conductor for a mass of other anxieties and resentments. Nonetheless the pains inflicted by these crimes, and by the attempts to control them, are real enough, and this book aims to shed light on their sources and the prospects for effective and humane protection.

The subtitle of the book will be recognized by criminologists as homage to the classic liberal analysis of criminal justice, published in 1970 by Chicago University Press: Norval Morris and Gordon Hawkins’s The Honest Politician’s Guide to Crime Control. This was an inspiration to me and I’m sure many of my generation, although my analysis here differs in many profound ways from theirs. An obvious difference is my substitution of ‘honest citizen’ for ‘honest politician’. Sadly the latter label would appear an impossible dream today. But the book is aimed at the many honest citizens remaining, so that they may impress on their supposed representatives smarter and more humane crime control policies. As a brief but reasonably comprehensive review of criminological literature, it is also hoped that the book will be useful as an introduction to the subject for its rapidly growing number of students.

My intellectual debts to many scholars are too many to even begin to acknowledge them all here. But the ideas in the book have been developed over many years during which I have had the privilege of teaching at the Law Department of the London School of Economics and Political Science. The LSE Mannheim Centre for Criminology has a remarkable number of criminological giants whom I have had the benefit of learning from, at the weekly Tuesday Ph.D. seminars, and the many courses we teach jointly – though they will probably disagree with much if not all of what I say. I would like to thank its members, past and present: Stan Cohen, Rachel Condry, David Downes, Marian Fitzgerald, Janet Foster, Roger Graef, Frances Heidensohn, Mercedes Hinton, Dick Hobbs, Jon Jackson, Nicola Lacey, Leonard Leigh, Terence Morris, David Nelken, Tim Newburn, Jill Peay, Coretta Phillips, Maurice Punch, Peter Ramsay, Paddy Rawlinson, Mike Redmayne, Paul Rock, Judith Rumgay, Mike Shiner, David Smith, Anna Souhami, Janet Stockdale, Michael Zander. I would also like to add Kate Malleson and Lucia Zedner, both of whom left for other pastures some time ago, and Ben Bowling and Wayne Morrison with whom I taught joint courses on the now defunct London University intercollegiate LLM. I have also learned much from Mike Maguire and Rod Morgan during our joint editing since 1994 of the Oxford Handbook of Criminology, now in its fourth edition.

The burdens of this book have fallen mainly on my family. I must apologize to them for my mental absence and grumpiness while writing it. Above all I must thank my children, Toby, Charlotte and Ben, and my wife, Joanna Benjamin, for their constant and never-failing support, encouragement, and above all inspiration. I only hope I can find some way of repaying them for everything.