Skip to toolbar

Posts from May 2016

Crime has become a form of entertainment?

19 May 2016

IanWith colleagues at MMU, I have been working on several inter-related projects that look at cultural representations of law and order. We have written about the works of David Peace, the novels and journalism of Gordon Burn as well TV cop drama. Our research uses bricolage as an approach as this allows researchers to cover a whole range of materials – newspaper articles, films, TV series, novels and music to examine the way that versions of events are produced.   We argue that crime has become a form of entertainment. One result of this process is that the brutality of high profile crimes such as sexual violence and homicide is diluted or repackaged as drama.  Recently marked the fiftieth anniversary of the sentencing of Brady and Hindley to life imprisonment.  We wrote an article https://theconversation.com/the-moors-murders-50-years-on-how-brady-and-hindley-became-an-awful-celebrity-template-58665 about the ways, in which, the reporting of their crimes and the subsequent media obsession with the case have become almost a template for the symbiotic relationship between the media and serial killing.  I was then interviewed on local radio and TV about the article and proposed book that we are writing exploring these issues.  Throughout our work, we argue that the mediatisation of crime has the indirectly results in the marginalisation of the pain and suffering of the victims and their families  – the academy plays a part in this with the obsession with motivations of perpetrators and developing typologies of killers.  . The article was published on 6th May – the media loves anniversaries, both interviews asked me questions about Brady and the death penalty. I recognise that there is something of a post-modern dilemma here using the media to argue that the focus should shift.  These areas are explored in more depth here http://www.internetjournalofcriminology.com/Cummins_Foley_King_The_Strange_Case_of_Ian_Stuart_Brady_and_the_Mental_Health_Review_Tribunal_IJC_Jan_2016.pdf

The other papers I discuss are available here http://usir.salford.ac.uk/view/authors/11079.html

Ian Cummins, Senior Lecturer in Social Work

School of Nursing Midwifery, Social Work & Social Sciences

Successful Cities

19 May 2016

chris3What can criminologists do when they work in countries with very high crime rates? What proposals can they make for bringing crime rates down? This was the topic I addressed when invited to talk (via Skype) to Criminology graduates in Mérida, Venezuela, in March of this year. Venezuela saw its crime rates increase dramatically from the mid-1990s onwards and now has some of the highest crime rates in the world. In 2013, the murder rate was estimated at 79 per 100,000 habitants (which compares with a murder rate of 1 per 100,000 for the UK). Such is the sense of urgency and crisis that the usual crime prevention measures, which often require long-term development, don’t seem to be appropriate.chris1

However, one answer to the problem might be found in policies that have been adopted, with apparent success, in some other parts of Latin America. For example, the city of Medellín, Colombia, with a murder rate above 350 per 100,000 in the early 1990s saw a substantial decline to about 25 per 100,000 by 2005. How did they do it? By developing urban infrastructure to improve and integrate low income neighbourhoods, improving urban management, increasing citizen participation and, importantly, negotiating with violent actors. chris2In other words, they established or increased the presence of the state in order to pacify the urban
environment. Many of these solutions look interesting, feasible and defensible. The worry relates to the negotiation: is it designed to dismantle violence as a form of control, or only to regulate it? That is a dilemma for criminologists as well: how do they engage with, confront and defuse systems of violence?

Chris Birkbeck, Professor of Criminology