Law and order has become a key issue throughout the world. Crime stories saturate the mass media and politicians shrilly compete with each other in a race to be the toughest on crime. Prisons are crammed to bursting point, and police powers and resources extended repeatedly. After decades of explosive increase in crime rates, these have plummeted throughout the Western world in the 1990s. Yet fear of crime and violence, and the security industries catering for these anxieties, grow relentlessly. This book offers an up-to-date analysis of these contemporary trends by providing all honest and concerned citizens with a concise yet comprehensive survey of the sources of current problems and anxieties about crime. It shows that the dominant tough law and order approach to crime is based on fallacies about its nature, sources, and what works in terms of crime control. Instead it argues that the growth of crime has deep-seated causes, so that policing and penal policy at best can only temporarily hold a lid down on offending. The book is intended to inform public debate about these vital issues through a critical deconstruction of prevailing orthodoxy. With its focus on current policies, problems and debates this book is also an excellent introduction to crimilogy for the growing numbers of students of the subject at all levels.
Robert Reiner is Professor of Criminology at the London School of Economics and Political Science.