Archive for the 'Criminology and Criminal Justice' Category

Partners in crime? Understanding coercion and choice in co-offending



Charlotte Barlow

High-profile male and female co-offenders provide fascinating, yet disturbing, images of crime and deviancy; the likes of Myra Hindley and Ian Brady and Rose and Fred West being some of the most infamous offenders in UK history.

It is often questioned how two people can be as ‘evil’ as each other, but this approach is usually overly simplistic. Here, Charlotte Barlow, author of Coercion and women co-offenders examines the complexities inherent in such relationships.

Although many female co-offenders are ‘equal’ partners and make an autonomous decision to offend, other women may have a less autonomous offending role. There have been a number of high-profile cases in recent years involving women who co-offended with a male partner who suggested that their relationship, at least to some extent, influenced their motivations to offend. This raises interesting questions about the possibility of coercion.

What is coercion?

Coercion means persuading or encouraging someone to do something by using force, threats, abuse (including physical, psychological, economic and/ or emotional), manipulation (including love or obsession) and/or control. The possibility of being coerced or forced into crime, with a male partner/ co-offender influencing motivations to offend, is a lived reality for some co-offending women, particularly if this relationship is characterised by violence, abuse or control.

Shauna Hoare and Nathan Matthews

Continue reading ‘Partners in crime? Understanding coercion and choice in co-offending’

“I don’t see scholarship and activism as distinct” – Plenary at the ASA highlights need for activism, resistance among scholars

Fresh from the American Sociological Association annual conference in Seattle, author and academic Jessie Daniels questions whether there should be a distinction between scholarship and activism or whether the time for retreat to the academic ivory tower is well and truly over….

Daniels_headshot2Academic sociologists sat in silence, many openly wept, as a video of a macabre scene in an American jail played in the plenary session of the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association in Seattle on Saturday.

The video, pulled from a surveillance camera, shows five people covered head to toe in white protective jumpsuits, similar to cleanroom suits in semiconductor factories. The people in the white suits surround a naked, slightly built, Black woman, and with steady deliberation, end her life.

“Black women are never seen as damsels in distress,” Kimberle Crenshaw, critical race scholar and law professor at UCLA and Columbia, explained. “Rather, we are seen as something that must be controlled.” Continue reading ‘“I don’t see scholarship and activism as distinct” – Plenary at the ASA highlights need for activism, resistance among scholars’

Can we be fair to Russian athletes in Rio?

The recent doping scandal surrounding the Russian Olympic team has brought debate about banned substances in sports competitions, and the consequences of being caught using these substances, to the global stage. 

Nic Groombridge, author of Sports criminology, discusses who should really be held accountable in this situation and what should be done in the future to discourage doping. 

Nic GroombridgeFamously George Orwell claimed:

“Serious sport has nothing to do with fair play. It is bound up with hatred, jealousy, boastfulness, disregard of all rules and sadistic pleasure in witnessing violence: in other words it is war minus the shooting.”

The last phrase is routinely cited but it is worth considering some of the context. Orwell was writing in the wake of visit by a Soviet Union football team he only calls ‘the Dynamos’ (actually an augmented Moscow team, see this more upbeat account). He mentions cricket, boxing, swimming and even cock-fighting but writes with a distant disdain for his subject (see Beck, 2013 on Orwell’s own sporting endeavours). Continue reading ‘Can we be fair to Russian athletes in Rio?’

Police and Crime Commissioners: have new elections intensified the political colouring of the role?

Although last week’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) elections saw a 10% increase in voter turn out, up on November 2012, a third of PCCs did not stand for a second term and there was a significant drop in the number of ‘independents’ standing overall.

Author and Policing and Criminal Justice academic Bryn Caless asks whether the evident politicisation of the PCC role along party lines may alienate already limited public support in time…

Bryn CalessThe elections of 40 Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) which took place on 6 May in England and Wales alongside those for local councils, indicate that overt politicisation of the role has increased.

In November 2012, the first ever PCC elections were held amidst controversies about the politicisation of the police, there were worries about the high bar for qualification and the expensive candidacy fee (at £5,000, ten times that for a prospective MP). In 2016, all such concerns persist.


The police themselves were initially suspicious of this cuckoo in their nest, while the media have been unremittingly hostile to a ‘mediocre’ Conservative initiative to replace what Teresa May, the Home Secretary, has called ‘anonymous and ineffective’ Police Authorities. (Actually, the ‘elected representative’ had been Labour’s idea some ten years earlier.) Continue reading ‘Police and Crime Commissioners: have new elections intensified the political colouring of the role?’

‘Black Roses’ and Developing New Understandings of Hate Crime Victimisation #NHCAW

This week is National Hate Crime Awareness week and Jon Garland and Neil Chakraborti,  authors of Responding to Hate Crime, share their thoughts on how understanding Hate Crime is developing in the UK…

Jon Garland

Jon Garland

Neil Chakraborti, author of Responding to Hate Crime & Leicester Hate Crime Project

Neil Chakraborti 

The broadcasting by BBC Television of Simon Armitage’s play Black Roses: The Killing of Sophie Lancaster in early October 2015 will do much to raise awareness of the targeted victimisation of members of alternative subcultures.

The play, about the circumstances surrounding the horrific murder of ‘goth’ Sophie Lancaster in 2007, had already been broadcast on BBC radio and enjoyed a successful theatre run, and won a number of awards. It tells Sophie’s story, and that of her mother Sylvia, in a very touching and moving way, and highlights the devastating effects of such brutal assaults upon the families of victims.


An interesting facet of public discussions about attacks like that on Sophie Lancaster is that they are often described as ‘mindless’ or ‘senseless’, as if they have little or no real motivation behind them.

Much of the discussion of the Fiona Pilkington case, for example, also contained such sentiments (Fiona and her family were the subject of disablist bullying and harassment by some members of their local community for a number of years before Fiona, in despair at the lack of help she had received from the police and local authorities, killed herself and her daughter Frankie in 2007).

“By deeming them to be merely ‘mindless thuggery’…the hate element of the incident is overlooked”

It seems as if some politicians and police officers are unable, for whatever reason, to comprehend or acknowledge that such attacks do have motives and that these motives are often characterised by hostility towards the identity of the victim.

By deeming them to be merely ‘mindless thuggery’ or ‘anti-social behaviour’ the hate element of the incident is overlooked, meaning that the opportunity to learn valuable lessons and to put appropriate preventative measures in place is lost, placing future victims in a more vulnerable situation.

In the case of the targeting of alternative subcultures, there is a growing body of evidence (which is summarised in our book Responding to Hate Crime: the Case for Connecting Policy and Research) which suggests that such groups – whether they be goths, emos, metallers or punks– are the subjects of verbal abuse and physical violence simply due to the perpetrators of such harassment being angered, disturbed or somehow even revolted by their physical appearance or way of life.

Research conducted by the Leicester Hate Crime Project found that those in such subcultures were routinely described as being dirty or unkempt by their abusers, and were frequently labelled as ‘grebs’ (a derogatory term for alternatives) or ‘freaks’.

Sustained bullying

Some were subject to sustained bullying while others were, thankfully less commonly, the targets of brutal beatings. Such harassment and violence had a profound impact on victims, causing them to suffer psychological trauma and to change their patterns of behaviour in order to avoid future incidents.

What this evidence means is that there is substance to the claims of the Sophie Lancaster Foundation (a charitable, campaigning organisation set up by Sylvia Lancaster in the wake of her daughter’s murder) that this type of harassment bears all the hallmarks of the officially recognised hate crimes, and thus should be understood and treated as such by the criminal justice system – indeed, a handful of police forces (following Greater Manchester Police’s 2013 lead) are already doing just that.

” …in their eyes it trivialises the concept of hate crime and renders it almost meaningless…”

However, there is a degree of opposition to this standpoint, not least from those who feel that comparing the situation of members of alternative subcultures with that of, for example, minority ethnic communities, belittles the latter’s long history of discrimination, marginalisation and racist victimisation. In their eyes it also therefore trivialises the concept of hate crime and renders it almost meaningless.

Whilst these points are very important it should also be acknowledged that the pain, hurt and suffering caused by being targeted because of who you are does appear to be similar in substance, both at the individual and wider community levels, whether you are from a ‘traditionally’ recognised hate crime victim group or from what could be termed a ‘new and emerging’ one, like alternative subcultures.

It will be fascinating to see how this debate eventually resolves itself. In the meantime, it is worth exploring the work of the Sophie Lancaster Foundation and seeing Black Roses, a play which may, in time, bear the distinction of being not only an award-winning piece of theatre but also one which helped shape the future of how we understand hate crime victimisation.

REPLACEMENT_Responding to hate crime [FC]Responding to Hate Crime is out now in paperback and is available to purchase here  from the Policy Press website. Remember that Policy Press newsletter subscribers receive a 35% discount – if you’re not a member of our community why not sign up here today?

For more information on National Hate Crime Awareness week, check out the Stop Hate UK website here. You can also follow Stop Hate UK  @stophateuk on twitter – hashtag #NHCAW and Facebook

Want to know more about the Sophie Lancaster story? Listen here to the BBC Radio 4 dramatisation of Simon Armitage’s play Black Roses: The Killing of Sophie Lancaster ortake a look at the Sophie Lancaster Foundation website.

The views and opinions expressed on this blog site are solely those of the original blogpost authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the Policy Press and/or any/all contributors to this site.

Policy Press February ‘editorial picks’: Criminology and Criminal Justice

This is the first in our new series of monthly ‘editor picks’ in which our editors tell you a little bit about themselves and share some of their thoughts on the titles they are most excited about publishing. With our newsletter focus on Criminology this month (sign up here!), Commissioning Editor Victoria Pittman tells us a bit about her background, what she’s most excited by in upcoming Criminology and Criminal Justice titles and why she can’t complain about the length of the book on her bedside table…

Victoria Pittman

Victoria Pittman, Commissioning Editor

Name: Victoria Pittman
Title: Commissioning Editor

What’s your story? 
I studied English and European Literature at the University of Warwick and my first job in publishing was an Editorial Assistant at Blackwell Publishing (before the Wiley takeover/merger). It was in the Medical Division and my first books were about Cardiology which was both fascinating and alarming. It taught me that academic publishing is about learning from experts rather than thinking you know everything about a subject area. After moving on to work as a Development Editor at Blackwell, I then joined the Law Department at OUP where I worked for five years and was the Commissioning Editor responsible for the Criminal Law list as well as other areas before moving to Policy Press in 2013.

What does your role entail and what do you enjoy most about it?
My role involves commissioning and developing new content across the subject areas I am responsible for and then managing those lists whilst liaising closely with my colleagues in sales, marketing and production. I think editorial and commissioning is the most exciting area of publishing as you get to work closely with authors and be involved right from the conception of a project. I love learning from people who are passionate about their subject area and then working with them to bring their research and knowledge to its intended audience.

What most excites you about your subjects?
I am responsible for our lists in Criminology and Criminal Justice, Sociology and Social Justice and Human Rights. This covers a huge range of topics and so many important issues. I am always particularly excited about the titles which include really unique and interesting research with hard to reach groups or on areas which have been previously neglected. For example our book Domestic violence and sexuality by Catherine Donovan and Marianne Hester offers new research and the first detailed discussion of domestic violence and abuse in same sex relationships.

What key things are happening in Criminology at Policy Press this year?
We have some brilliant titles publishing on the Criminology and Criminal Justice list this year, I really want to list them all! As this is a growing area for us, it is nice to see such a variety of titles and to be working with lots of great authors.

This month we’ve seen a particularly important one released: Children behind bars: Why the abuse of child imprisonment must end by Carolyne Willow exposes the harsh realities of penal child custody. Some of the stories are particularly shocking and it’s important that more people know about the realities faced by children who are locked up in these places.

I’m also looking forward to seeing our new textbook An introduction to critical criminology publish as I think it will be really valuable for students and lecturers in this area. Pamela Ugwudike who teaches this course at Swansea has managed to cover an incredible amount of material in an accessible way, covering topics such as Marxist criminology, crimes of the powerful, and cultural criminology.

Other highlights include Positive youth justice: Children first, offenders second by Kevin Haines and Stephen Case, Intermediaries in the criminal justice system by Joyce Plotnikoff and Richard Woolfson and Simon Pemberton’s new book in our Studies in Social Harm series, Harmful societies.

There will be lots of others as well, including some new Policy Press Shorts such as Female Serial Killers by Elizabeth Yardley and David Wilson and Privitising probation by John Deering and Martina Feilzer.

What interests you particularly in Criminology and Criminal Justice?
I find the books on reforming and improving the criminal justice system the most interesting but also enjoy reading about advances in solving crime and the investigative side. My Dad is a police detective (technically retired from the police force now but I will always think of him as a policeman!) and he has done a lot of work on forensics which always fascinates me.

What reading book is currently on your bedside table?
Goldfinch by Donna Tartt – it’s our book group book and I chose it so I can’t complain about how long it is!

What question would you want us to ask our next editorial interviewee?
If the earth was about to be destroyed and you could only take one book with you to another planet, which one would you take?


If you enjoyed reading this, you might also enjoy:

Children behind bars: Is it time to close our child prisons? by author Carolyne Willow

What really goes on Inside Crown Court? by Victoria Pittman

Children behind bars: Is it time to close our child prisons?

Haunted by the restraint-related deaths of Gareth Myatt and Adam Rickwood in prisons run by G4S and Serco, Carolyne Willow spent 18 months collecting information about young offender institutions and secure training centres.

Her book ‘Children behind bars: why the abuse of child imprisonment must end’, which details the findings of her research, publishes today. In a guest post for us, Carolyne shares the shock she felt at the bleak and murky world of child prisoner abuse uncovered by her research.

Carolyne Willow

Carolyne Willow

Although I had been close to the issues of child prisoner treatment for getting onto 20 years, I discovered there was still much for me to learn. The transfer of methods, and perpetrators, between different institutional settings was one revelation.

I hadn’t realised, for example, that the ringleader of the sadistic abuse of people with learning disabilities at Winterbourne View had honed his techniques whilst working in a young offender institution.

Nor did I know that Frank Beck, the country’s most notorious children’s homes manager, used the ‘rib distraction’ (sharply driving fingers or knuckles into the child’s ribs) technique. Several years after Beck was sentenced to five life sentences plus 24 years for his systematic abuse of children in care, this was one of three brutal restraint techniques approved for use in secure training centres.


I was horrified by the scale of alleged abuse in Medomsley detention centre in Durham, now reported by 950 former inmates. The account of boys lying at the foot of the stairs so others could jump on their legs and break them, as the only means of leaving the institution and escaping further abuse, is heartbreaking.

Sexual abuse in Downview women’s prison, which also held girls, was also news to me. Civil servants refused to release the report from the prison service’s internal investigation, though they disclosed that action was taken against four prison officers between 2009 and 2013.

Other information I elicited points to children being sexually abused in that prison. Successive parliamentary questions about prison officer sexual abuse have been rebutted on cost grounds. I can only imagine how Louise Casey would have reacted had Rotherham councillors dared use this ‘disproportionate cost’ excuse for lack of data during her recent inspection of the authority’s action on child sexual exploitation.

After months of pursuing information on child prisoner abuse, I was told 62 prison officers working with children in nine state prisons were disciplined for abuse between 2009 and 2013 – six of these for an ‘inappropriate relationship with a prisoner/ex-prisoner’.

“…in the words of the sentencing judge, [William John Payne] was able to sexually assault a child prisoner ‘at every opportunity’”

My information requests to councils and police forces for the first time give a picture of children’s allegations, and the inadequate response of child protection agencies. Even when prison officers have been convicted, as with William John Payne – who, in the words of the sentencing judge, was able to sexually assault a child prisoner ‘at every opportunity’ – child protection follow-up seems non-existent.

The local authority in which that prison is located couldn’t give me rudimentary data on abuse allegations made by children. It did, however, say no serious case reviews were held during the relevant period. Serious case reviews are initiated when a child dies or has been seriously harmed and there are concerns about safeguarding. Payne had been a prison officer for 30 years.

Fear, hunger, deprivation of fresh air and exercise, physical abuse and desperate loneliness are ubiquitous in child prisons. Thirty-three boys have died since 1990. A single government department was responsible for the 19 prisons in which 31 of the children died, and the Youth Justice Board managed contracts with the multinationals running the two secure training centres in which Gareth and Adam died.

routine strip-searching

Prison policy demanded the routine strip-searching of child inmates until last year, with thousands of children forced to suffer the degradation of adults in uniforms inspecting their bodies. Those who refused would be held down and their clothes yanked off, sometimes with ‘safety scissors’.

Stripping children naked was part of the authorised procedure for transferring them to the ‘block’ (segregation). This is one of many penal practices I hope Justice Lowell Goddard will scrupulously investigate during her inquiry into sexual abuse and exploitation from the 1970s onwards, which has prisons and ‘secure’ institutions listed within its remit.

Long before the judge reports, however, our remaining child prisons must close, whatever the financial cost. It’s time for the hamster-wheel of reforms and rebrands to stop. Chris Grayling’s self-indulgent plans for new penal institutions – the ‘secure college’ – should be graciously donated to a museum of Victorian childhood.

Children suffer in prison precisely because they are in prison; that is the truth. New centres of excellence modelled on the best of secure children’s homes, and international evidence, is the only way forward. Clinging onto child prisons in the face of the devastating evidence is far more than covering up abuse. It is perpetuating it.

Related links

Guardian article 11 February 2015 – Carolyne Willow: ‘We closed workhouses, let’s get rid of child prisons’

Children behind bars [FC]Children behind bars: why the abuse of child imprisonment must end publishes today and copies can be purchased at a 20% discount from the Policy Press website – here.

The views and opinions expressed on this blog site are solely those of the original blogpost authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the Policy Press and/or any/all contributors to this site.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Twitter Updates


Helen Kara

Writing and research

Peter Beresford's Blog

Musings on a Mad World

Paul Cairney: Politics & Public Policy

Professor of Politics and Public Policy, University of Stirling

Path to the Possible

Democracy toward the Horizon


Governance: An international journal of policy, administration and institutions

Shot by both sides

The blog of Kerry McCarthy, Labour MP

Paul Collins's Running Blog

Running and London Marathon 2013 Training

Bristol Civic Leadership Project

A collaborative project on change in local governance

Stuck on Social Work

And what a great place to be

Points: The Blog of the Alcohol & Drugs History Society

short and insightful writing about a long and complex history

Urban policy and practice

Publishing with a purpose


Policy Politics Place


Publishing with a purpose

Public Administration Review

Public Administration Review is a professional journal dedicated to advancing theory and practice in public administration.


European Politics and Policy

Urban Studies Journal

Publishing with a purpose

%d bloggers like this: