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Mannheim Matters - December 2011 Edition

 

News and Notes

Welcome to the new and improved Mannheim Matters newsletter. We've revamped, retooled, and reenergised the newsletter to deliver all the news and happenings for the Mannheim Centre for Criminology at the LSE. There's news about upcoming events, updates on our post-grads, and we get to meet with Jill Peay in this edition. We hope you enjoy the new style, and that you have a wonderful holiday season!

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Meet ... Professor Jill Peay

Professor Jill Peay

Although I came to the LSE and the Mannheim Centre for Criminology some 15 years ago I have never really felt confident describing myself as ‘a criminologist’.  This maybe because I have been something of an intellectual butterfly, but may also be because I have some difficulty in defining what is ‘a criminologist’?

 

Chronologically I have fluttered and, some would say, flapped around.  Starting as a student in a psychology department with a strong behavioural and experimental tradition (yes, there were Skinner boxes aplenty), staying on in Birmingham to do a PhD in a field that overlapped with law (decision-making by Mental Health Review Tribunals under the Mental Health Act 1959) and then moving to the Centre for Criminological Research at Oxford, was potentially a criminologist’s trajectory. Three pieces of funded research later (on Sentencing, as part of the infamous Oxford study with Andrew Ashworth, Elaine Genders, Graham Mansfield and Elaine Player; on the Director of Public Prosecutions; and more on tribunal decision-making, under the 1983 Act) and I might have been heading for a full-time career, but for the precarious nature of the rolling-grant funding.  So I applied for, and was offered, a job in the law department at Brunel University; I accepted on condition that I would be allowed to re-qualify in law.  So for my first two years at Brunel I studied at Oxford Brookes (as it now is) and then drove down the M40 to Brunel to deliver my lectures. This was a pretty hairy time.  But it did make me feel more comfortable to be in a law department, knowing that I at least knew something about the theory of law (and, indeed, its practise when I went on to qualify as a Barrister).

 

This chequered background was reflected in two of my early publications at the LSE.  First, an article called ‘The Power of the Popular’, in which I tried to examine some aspects of what criminology was by getting all the criminologists I then knew to make one statement with which they believed other criminologists would agree.[1]  Second, ‘De Profundis: Criminology at the Water’s Edge’ (a Philip Stenning title) which looked at rural crime and the gulf, in some communities at least, between a rosy view of communities and their lived realities.  I have the clearest of memories, having presented this paper at a Mannheim gathering, of listening to Stan Cohen summarising in a perfectly-worded paragraph what this work meant.  Thankfully, I was able to capture it almost word for word and have realised ever since just how valuable it is to expose oneself to one’s colleagues no matter how ill-formulated one’s ideas might be.  The Mannheim meetings have, over the years, been a repository of wise and kind words to budding scholars.

 

Fast-forwarding fifteen years my interests have persisted in the areas of mental health, offending by those with mental disorders and in decision-making.  But I have also been diverted into the more obviously civil side of mental health law, sitting on the Richardson Committee, which provided the then New Labour Government with a blueprint for capacity-based mental health law reform (a blue-print which they swiftly torched).  My diversions also took me to Europe as part of an eight-country study of Guardianship laws with the Mental Disability Advocacy Centre, and onto a working party for the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, on ‘Ethical Issues and the Dementias’.

 

Most recently I have gravitated back to the criminal side with my book on Mental Health and Crime,[2] published in the David Downes and Paul Rock series on Contemporary Issues in Public Policy; and I have been working with colleagues from the Institute of Psychiatry and UCL on a Nuffield Foundation funded-study developing an ‘unfitness to plead’ instrument.  My plenary lecture to this year’s British Criminology Conference on ‘Recession, Crime and Mental Health’ – taking me into the unfamiliar territory of economics - is to be published; and finally, there is the collaboration with Tim Newburn on Robert Reiner’s Festschrift (not a secret!). 

 

So perhaps I am something of a criminologist.  All I really know is that my time at the LSE, and in association with the Mannheim Centre, has been one of magnificent opportunities and supportive friendships.  For anyone who is lucky enough to work here the state of the plumbing barely registers.

 

Letter from Oxford

Mai Sato

I attended university in Tokyo studying law, majoring in business law, and worked for an insurance company in Japan after graduation. There, I learned about variable annuities (which I hoped would come in handy when I started thinking about retirement). I liked the people I worked with and was generally happy, but having grown up in a family who all had jobs which they loved or turned their hobby into a job, I had an uneasy feeling whether I really cared about life insurance…

 

My first contact with criminology was doing an internship at the International Centre for Prison Studies (ICPS) while doing an LLM. There was a Ministry of Justice official visiting from Japan to learn about prison privatisation, though the Japanese government had already decided then to privatise, so he was actually there to learn how best to run a private prison (I’m not sure if ICPS realised this). I tagged along to various prison visits with him across the UK. Coming from a black letter law education, seeing criminal justice in practice made me look at law in a different light. I asked Rob Allen (the then Director of ICPS) about doing a PhD. He told me to go to the Institute for Criminal Policy Research (ICPR) which was at that time based one floor above ICPS at Kings College London. There, I met Mike Hough who became my PhD supervisor. My thesis examined public attitudes to the death penalty in Japan. It challenged the Japanese government’s argument that majority public support for the death penalty made it impossible to contemplate abolition. Drawing on findings from three types of surveys that I carried out, I argued that the Japanese public do not care much about the death penalty and the legitimacy of state institutions would not be damaged if the government was to abolish it.

 

Leaving the insurance company “to study about the death penalty” was something that my erstwhile bosses thought was a terrible idea, and every time I am back in Japan, they still ask me when I am going to get a real job. But I am glad I make that choice.

 

I am very grateful for the Centre for Criminology and the Howard League for Penal Reform for giving me the opportunity to do a post-doc. The Centre has been a warm and welcome place. (Getting a work permit was another matter: the only practical way for a non-EU national to secure a visa within a reasonable amount of time meant taking an ethically distasteful but unavoidable decision to leapfrog queues of people by paying a very expensive visa company. This is because appointment slots with the UK Borders Agency are snatched by these firms, and trying to make an appointment on your own will results in being told that they are “fully booked” for the next three months.)

I am currently working on an ESRC proposal which looks at lay decision making in the criminal courts. A quick review of criminal justice systems around the world reveals great diversity in forms of judicial decision-making. Systems range from those in which decision-making power is vested in lay citizens to those which entail exclusive decision-making by professional judges. It is striking that matters as critical as determining the guilt of defendants and passing sentence on the guilty are considered in some jurisdictions to be best placed in the hands of “the man on the street” and in others are the sole responsibility of legally trained professionals. The proposed study will be a comparative study of two contrasting systems of lay decision-making in the criminal courts: the jury system in England and Wales and the saibanin system in Japan.

 

From 2012, I will be working on an EU-funded project FIDUCIA, which attempts to apply procedural justice theory to new forms of crimes across Europe. From May 2012, I am going to be living in Freiburg, Germany at the Max Plank Institute. There, I would like to carry on with the research on public attitudes to the death penalty, and will look forward to soon finding out what visa arrangements they have in Germany!

 

News

Books
Fine Lines and Distinctions: Murder, Manslaughter and the Taking of Human Life by Terence Morris and Louis Blom-Coooper. Waterside Press. £35

A review by Duncan Campbell  Guardian Monday 12 September 2011 on the book reads: “A man fatally stabs an armed robber who has entered his premises. Another man admits smothering his terminally ill wife. A teenager is found guilty of bashing his ex-girlfriend to death with a rock, in exchange for a free breakfast. Three cases in the news in England in the space of a single recent week. All three prompted an arrest for murder yet they are clearly very different forms of homicide. To address such diverse cases and the inconsistencies of the laws surrounding them, two of our leading legal brains, Professor Terence Morris and Sir Louis Blom-Cooper QC, have written Fine Lines and Distinctions: Murder, Manslaughter and the Unlawful Taking of Human Life. The thrust of their argument is that killings vary so greatly that the current definitions of murder and manslaughter – and the mandatory life sentence for the former – are inadequate to deal with them. They advocate a new offence of criminal homicide, with the judge determining a sentence based on the circumstances of each case.

To read the full review, you can visit The Guardian article.  

Reading the Riots
Time Newburn and his team at The Guardian have released their findings in the Reading the Riots project.
It has generated considerable coverage, and addressed many of the underlying claims made by the media and politicians in the days after the August riots. You can see the full coverage at The Guardian's dedicated pages to this monumental project.

 

Christmas Greeting from Abroad

In February 2010, Mercedes Hinton left academia to work as a consultant for the World Bank's Crime, Conflict, and Violence group, then she joined the Washington D.C. office of George Soros' Foundation, the Open Society Foundations (OSF), as a program officer to direct the Latin America related work of a new crime and violence prevention program.  
 

This program, the OSF - Crime and Violence Prevention Initiative, is premised on the view that the criminal justice system alone cannot curb violence.  Addressing violent crime requires a multi-sectoral approach that addresses the root causes and drivers of crime, in addition to traditional law enforcement and criminal justice sanctions.  Through grant making and programmatic work, the Initiative seeks to serve as a force to raise the local and international priority of the prevention agenda, catalyze innovation and local government partnership with civil society, increase awareness of good practices, and otherwise mobilize support and resources for appropriate public policy development and implementation at the local level.

Geographically, the Crime and Violence Prevention Initiative is currently focusing its programming on Kenya, Namibia, Mozambique, and Guatemala, El Salvador and Costa Rica.  Programming also supports cross regional learning between Latin America and Africa. Funding preference is given to to locally-based civil society organizations. 
 

Mercedes has been very much enjoying her new job together with the experience of living in Washington D.C, although she does miss London and the warmth of her LSE colleagues a great deal.  She sends warmest good wishes to her friends and former colleagues for Christmas from Washington:  mhinton@osi-dc.org 

 

Comment is Free

Our PhD students continue to impress. Daniel Bear has penned a piece for The Guardian's Comment is Free section about the potential use of water canons by police.

Post Graduate Update

Hiu Gloria NG - MSc Social Policy

I enjoy the course from the LSE so far. There are three things that I particularly like. The first thing is that nearly all the lectures in all modules are given by the expertise of the field, such as Robert Reiner, Tim Newburn and David Smith in the module ‘ Policing and Police Power’. This indeed makes the lectures become really exciting, meaningful and fruitful since the professors and the lecturers are all equipped with the knowledge in that particular areas.

Secondly, I do enjoy the interactions between all my classmates since this course attracts people from all over the world with different backgrounds. This makes the discussions in the seminars very interesting and fruitful. It is because we can have many different perspectives in viewing one issue. This can help us to understand more about the issues in a global view.

Finally, I enjoy the flexibility of the course very much. It is because in some modules, we can choose between having an exam and doing a dissertation on a self-chosen topic. By doing so, we can handle our time more effectively and allows us to demonstrate our strength. Besides, this course also allows us to choose the courses provided from other departments or even other colleges within the University of London. Such flexibility enables us to choose the most suitable modules for ourselves.

 

Roger Graef seminar

Roger Graef came to talk to students on Janet Foster’s course ‘Crime, deviance and Control’ about his documentary ‘kids in care.’ This followed three youngsters in the Coventry care system. Roger started by saying that for him his work is to put the humanity back into the frame as it is this which disappears from the criminal justice system. He tries to counteract the stereotype which creates a forced dichotomy between good and bad children. He conceded that teenagers can be difficult to reach and get past the stony faced mask of cool. He is anxious to tell kids stories which have subtly and variation.  Kids in care reveals what kids are like and why they are difficult to manage. 

Fourteen year old Conor had missed out on three visits to his Mum because there was no one available to take him on a supervised visit. He was, justifiably, angry. He lost it with the social worker who was trying to explain him having a delayed visit. At the same time Conor was shown being playful with his young step sister and demonstrating his need and capability for and of love. Roger explained about Conor’s angry outburst: “he does not have reserves to handle disappointment”.  He went on to say that damaged children reflect the damage in their behaviour. Abuse and violence I often all they know from the adults around them as ways to deal with stress and disappointment. Their models of behaviour are erratic and unpredictable

 

Four million people watched Kids in Care when it was screened as a panorama special and were engaged by the discovery of these children. Roger has now produced a follow up sequel “Trouble with adoption” particularly because there is so little available about failed adoption. He mentioned that another, younger Conor, is in the midst of a court battle between his birth mother and foster parents as to his final home.

In making the film, Roger explained the production team never quite know what the day’s filming will reveal and he looks for ‘hinge’ moments where the kids’ story may take a turn such as Conor’s disappointing news about his home visit. When asked about editing the material, he does present the stories chronologically but has to think carefully when conveying levels of pain experienced by the kids or levels of violence they display.

He also spoke about attachment and the important to children in learning how to make decisions for themselves and to criticise their own decision making in a critical way.

Recent Events

Joint Mannheim/BSC Seminar

Joanna Gilmore, University of Manchester spoke to her paper “Repression and resistance in an age of austerity; protest policing and the normalisation of exceptional powers in the UK”

 

Joanna spoke about her recent doctoral research. She started with accounts of some young Muslims whose door was broken down by police in March 2009 explaining how frightening they found the experience. Joanna’s argument was that this one example was indicative of the 1,800 arrests made in Britain since 2011 under the counter terrorism legislation especially as part of police operation ‘Ute.’ Only 5% of arrests have led to successful prosecutions. The focus of her presentation was the involvement of Muslims in protest against Operation ‘Cast Lead’ launched by the Israelis in Gaza. Joanna suggested that many of those involved were not radicals, and many were young women who had not previously attended political demonstrations. The protests were supported by students and trade unionists, faith groups and peace campaigners. In January 2009, an estimated 100,000 people took part in a mass demonstration which involved some shoe throwing at the Israeli embassy (as a symbolic gesture following the incident involving George W. Bush).  Police invoked the kettling tactic to contain protestors. Joanna purports that “the indignation of tabloid journalism was reserved exclusively for the illegitimate actions of protestors, often repeating verbatim the official police account of the demonstrations”. Relatively little coverage discussed allegations of brutality on the part of the police. Moreover, the Met issues a press release appealing for information to trace people suspected in violent and aggressive behaviour during the Gaza demonstrations. When sentences were metered out they were harsh which Joanna suggest served to legitimate the earlier anti protest rhetoric of much of the media coverage. And reinforced the radicalized construction of the protestors thus portraying Muslims as extremists rather than protestors. She concluded from her analysis that the construction of protest by the media as signifying problems of social crisis justify what she argued as a disproportionate response from the State.

Her presentation provoked a spirited discussion in which it was suggested that there is a crisis: i.e. the State does not know how to handle protest and heavy handed tactics is perhaps an indication of the State’s anxiety about the underlying volatility of the public mood. One comment drew attention to the issuing by the Met of plastic bullets for possible use in that day’s student protest, which passed largely unremarked in the media. A further exchange proposed that there has been an increment in the use of containing public order methods by the police and deterrent sentencing by the courts which have represented a ratcheting up of oppressive methods to dampen protest and an undermining of the mass political expression of opposition.

Specialty Seminar
November 22, 2011
The Mannheim Centre specialty seminar marked the publication of Children of the Drug War edited by Damon Barrett. The discussion looked at the impacts of drugs on families with special reference to Latin America. A major theme was the idea that enforcement efforts have not been successful in stemming the trade in drugs and that there should be a shift towards regulation.
 

Hermann Mannheim quote of the month

“There is the apparently ineradicable habit of confusing statistical correlations with causal explanations. If we find, as some American scholars, I believe, have found that more children are born in districts where there are more storks, we are not likely to conclude that storks bring the children! If we find e.g. more crime among unmarried men than married men we are inclined to conclude at once that marriage is a crime preventing factor for men… statistical figures and correlations are nothing but signposts. Therefore if we establish a fairly high correlation between juvenile delinquency and, say, broken homes we have proved nothing: we have found nothing but a clue.” 

Mannheim. H. (1955) Group problems in crime and punishment.  London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. p134.

From The Archives

From 'Street Life in London', 1877, by John Thompson and Adolphe Smith.

"In Drury Lane there is a house which has been celebrated for more than a century. It was a "cook-shop" in Jack Sheppard’s time. This notorious criminal often dined there, and it is now still."

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Holiday Wishes

We hope that you and your family have a wonderful holiday season, and an exciting new year.
Forthcoming Events

Mannheim/BSC Wednesday Seminar                    

Professor Penny Green (Kings College)

The seminar, entitled "State Crime", will start at 6.30pm, with wine from 6.15pm, and we recommend arriving early to be sure of a seat. We hope you will also be able to stay for drinks with the speaker after the talk.

18 January 2012,London School of Economics, NAB (New Academic Building), Room 1.07

 

To Do in London
   

 

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