Contemporary landscapes of crime, order and control (3rd Post)   no comments

Posted at 11:47 pm in Criminology

Source: The Oxford Handbook of Criminology by Maguire. Morgan and Reiner

This week, I have been reading chapter 3 of the book which is on the influential theories behind the governance and control of crime. Changes to the landscape of crime, order and control forces the shape of criminology as a field of study to be revised.

  1. Which topics command the most serious attention
  2. Which theoretical resources and empirical materials best advance contemporary analysis
  3. How to contribute pertinently to public debates on crime and control

Significant features which shifts and changes include:

  1. Contemporary shifts in the character of the governance of crime
  2. The changing postures and capacities of the state
  3. The intensity of public sensibilities towards criminal justice matters
  4. The shifting boundaries between the public and private realms in providing security
  5. 5. Social consequences of risk
  6. The place of crime and social order in public culture

The chapter is divided into three chapters, governance, risk and globalisation, all of which are important factors in our perception of crime today. Below are the notes I have made.


Governance: blurs the distinction between state and civil society. The state becomes a collection of interorganisational states made up of governmental and societal actors with no sovereign actor able to steer or regulate.

Transformation in the field of control institution and philosophies came in the 1970s when there was:

  1. Massive escalation in post-war crime rates
  2. Significant changes in economic, social and cultural relations. Modernity include:
    1. Transformation in capitalist production and exchange
    2. Changes in family structure e.g. rising divorce rate
    3. c. Proliferation of mass media
    4. A democratization of everyday life – as witnessed in altered relations between men/women parents/children and a marked decline in unthinking adherence towards authority.
    5. New Rights government rule in USA, Britain, Australia and New Zealand which aimed specifically to break with the economic and social consensus of the post-war decades. The result is the formation of “MARKET SOCIETIES” in which social inequalities deepened and had profound ramifications on levels/responses/politicization of crime.

Refiguring policing and prevention

  1. De-centering of the criminal justice state: there is a tendency for government officials and senior practitioners to emphasize the limits of the police and criminal justice in controlling crime and to seek to inculcate correspondingly more “realistic” public expectations of what state criminal justice agencies can accomplish.
  2. Managerialism: subjected the police, courts, probation and prisons to a regime of EFFICIENCY and value-for-money, performance targets and auditing, quality of service and consumer responsiveness. (an attempt to inject “private sector disciplines” into public criminal justice agencies)
  3. Emergence of crime prevention partnerships at a local level: commercial actors delivering closed-circuit television systems (now: ISP supply data, eCrime police)


Long standing professional concerns with judgements about ways of anticipating and forestalling future harms have evolved and extended to incorporate new methods, statistical models and the availability of previously unimagined computational power.

The refocusing of the theory and practice of crime control in terms of risk actually serves to reconfigure its objects of attention and intervention, its intellectual and institutional connections with other domains, and its cultural and political salience and sensitivity in potentially fundamental fashion.

Gidden, we live in a world of “manufactured uncertainty” and it is characteristic of such a “risk-climate” that its institutions become reflexive. That is, endlessly monitoring, adjusting and calculating their behaviour in the face of insatiable demands for information and pressures for accountability.

Becks, “Risk may be defined as a systematic way of dealing with hazards and insecurities induced and introduced by modernisation itself. Risks, as opposed to older dangers, are consequences which relate to the threatening force of modernisation and to its globalisation of doubt.”


Relations between states and societies (and the economic and political systems within which they are embedded) have altered in ways that rob analyses of “societies” as distinct entities with clear boundaries of much of their purchase, and bring to the fore the issue of networks and flows; movement of capital, goods, people, symbols and information across formerly separate national contexts.

Criminal networks and cross-border crime flows (transnational crime)

Hirst and Thompson emphasise that globalisation is not a new phenomenon and can be traced back over centuries. However, in terms of the extensity, intensity, velocity and impact of global networks and flows, the globalisation new are witnessing is distinct.

Criminal networks operate ruthless protection and enforcement systems that challenge directly “an essential component of state sovereignty and legitimacy”. Such networks become appealing cultural idols for many dispossessed young males who see no other obvious route out of poverty, as well as having more diffuse effects at the level of popular culture.

Shadow enterprises deploy some variant of bribery, extortion, political funding, assassination or armed combat as a means to undermine the governing capacities and political authority of weak or “failed” stats. Such networks have assumed a key role in setting the basic terms of existence across many parts of the globe. (Most cybercrimes are moving towards organised crime)

“Local” crime and responses to crime

Bauman has written provocatively that the economic precariousness and existential insecurity attendant upon globalisation generals “withdrawal into the safe haven of territoriality” and condensed anxieties about, and social demands for, safety.

Transnational crime control

Interpol was originally set up in 1923 and in its current guise in 1949. However, its impact has diminished because the US is trying to extend and coordinate law enforcement beyond its borders and the building of an enhanced police and criminal justice capacity within the EU.

The developments in the EU are:

  1. The 1992 Maastricht Treaty of a Third Pillar of EU competence in “justice and home affairs” of forms of intergovernmental activity and supranational policymaking in areas of police cooperation, efforts to tackle organised crime and measures concerning immigration, asylum policy and other matters.
  2. The onset of institutions, networks and training programmes aimed atfurthering the exchange of information and know-how among Europe’s police officers, prosecutors and judges.
  3. New modes of ground-level cooperation between national police forces e.g. Europol liaison officers

Relevance to cybercrime

Cybercriminals most often belong to an organisation or criminals across the globe with well structured hierarchies and well organised plans to aggregate profit in a quick, efficient and well disguised manner.  This chapter has introduced the theories behind the changes in governance, the influence of risk on society and in particular, it has introduced the impact of globalisation on crime and control. It would be interesting to see if cybercriminals really are those “dispossessed young males who see no other obvious route out of poverty”. It has also introduced transnational policing and some of the developments such as the Europol.

Written by my2e09 on March 9th, 2010

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