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The New Policing

Edition: 1st

Author: Eugene McLaughlin

ISBN: 9780803989054

Publishers: Sage Publications Ltd

Price £20.99

Publication Date: 4th Dec 2006

Publisher’s Title Information


The New Policing provides a comprehensive introduction to the critical issues confronting policing today. It incorporates an overview of traditional approaches to the study of the police with a discussion of current perspectives. The book goes on to examine key themes, including:

The core purpose of contemporary policework.

The reconfiguration of police culture.

Organizational issues and dilemmas currently confronting the police.

The managerial reforms and professional innovations that have been implemented in recent years.

The future of policing, security and crime control.

In offering this discussion of the nature and role of the police, The New Policing illustrates the need to re-examine and re-think the theoretical perspectives that have constituted policing studies. Examining evidence from the UK, the USA, and other western societies, the book promotes and enables an understanding of the cultural and symbolic significance of policing in society.
This ground-breaking text has been constructed to ensure that it touches on all the key issues that any course on police and policing will cover. It will be an essential purchase for all students of policing and criminal justice, and academics and professionals working in this field.


A young lady named Warner was about to select the forename Jack for her new born son when her mother informed her that such a name would identify him with the actor Jack Warner (1896-1981) who played the part of PC George Dixon murdered in the film The Blue Lamp (1949): the first film to receive the full co-operation of the Metropolitan Police. Later BBC TV resurrected him for the series Dixon of Dock Green (1955-1976). The programme was a reassuring and nostalgic series in which honest copper PC Dixon emphasised that crime did not pay.

This historical period is referred to in Eugene McLaughlin’s book The New Policing as the Dixonian era: a time when police constables patrolled the streets, criminals went in fear of arrest and virtually all murders were solved. Today police officers patrol in motor vehicles, carry a multitude of equipment, often including firearms and criminals (allegedly) no longer fear the prospect of arrest. Perhaps not unexpectedly the older generation hanker for the bygone days of George Dixon (myth or not) and constantly demand more police protection from criminals.  But those halcyon days have gone forever: in some cases helmets have been discarded for flat caps and regulation boots for lightweight shoes when appropriate.

Policing has changed every decade since its inception in 1829 but Professor McLaughlin commences his book at a sensible post-war period by describing the background of the legendary Jack Warner George Dixon and how London’s 1950s East End bobby differed from New York’s city cops. He subsequently examines the police in the community, policing society, multicultural problems with quotes and references from the Scarman and Macpherson reports, police accountability, terrorist crises and looking to the future. Each subject is examined in great detail with quotes from many of the 400 plus publications listed as references and conclusions drawn on each of the chosen subjects.   

The author admits in his preface that the book is from a British prospective but it also "touches upon much broader shifts that are restructuring the Anglo-American policing model". But why was it necessary to compare British policing with that of Americans?  It is questionable whether there is so much common ground between the two nations as to warrant comparisons. While the several police forces in the UK work on parallel lines the US consists of a number of States which are not necessarily comparable with each other let alone the UK. It would have been more thought-provoking to compare like with like such as policing in Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Rome, etc. especially in view of the recent European Crime and Safety Survey that revealed the percentage of households burgled were higher in the UK than in any other EU country, the percentage of population who were exposed to crime placed the UK second in the table, etc. 

Although written by an academic for (possibly) other academics the history and analysis of the vast number of subjects from a criminologist’s point of view as opposed to that of a practising police officer, the book would sit comfortably on the shelf of several police officers’ libraries; especially those who may not be conversant with the Dixonian period and subsequent changes in policing over the past fifty years.   In addition, it would enable them to appreciate the concern of their parents and/or grand parents for the return of Dixonian community policing (myth or not).


Cybercrime and Society

Author: Majid Yar

ISBN: 1412907543

Publishers: Sage Publications Ltd

Price £18.99

Publication Date: April 2006

Publisher’s Title Description:

`Criminology has been rather slow to recognise the importance of cyberspace in changing the nature and scope of offending and victimisation, and a comprehensive introductory textbook on cybercrime and its social implications is long overdue. One of the many strengths of Majid Yar's book is that it avoids 'techy' jargon and unites criminological and sociological perspectives in discussions of cybercrime, cyber-deviance and cyber-freedoms. Yar successfully de-mystifies a subject that causes many criminologists to feel out of their depth (or at least their comfort zone). Cybercrime & Society should be the first point of reference for any student of new media and crime' - Dr Yvonne Jewkes, Reader in Criminology, The Open University

`An engaging book full of lively discussion and careful explanation of the issues. Majid Yar manages to achieve the seemingly impossible task of balancing theory with action. I shall certainly recommend it to my own cybercrime students' -Professor David S. Wall, Head of University of Leeds Law School, Professor of Criminal Justice and Information Technology

Cybercrime and Society provides a clear, systematic, critical introduction to current debates about cybercrime. It locates the phenomenon in the wider contexts of social, political, cultural and economic change. It is the first book to draw upon perspectives spanning criminology, sociology, law, politics and cultural studies to examine the whole range of cybercrime issues, including:

* computer hacking

* cyber-terrorism

* media 'piracy'

* financial fraud and identity theft

* online stalking

* hate speech

* pornography

* surveillance

The book takes an international perspective, drawing on research, case studies and examples from the UK, the US, Europe and beyond. It includes chapter outlines and summaries, further reading and a glossary. The book is an essential resource for all students and academics interested in cybercrime and the future of the Internet.

Title: Penal Systems - A Comparative Approach

Authors: Michael Cavadino and James Dignan

ISBN: 0-7619-5202-9

Publishers: Sage Publications

Price £24.99

Publication Date: 2006

Much as the title states this book is a comparative approach to the study of punishments in various countries. Twelve countries are represented and a comparison is attempted as to the penology in each of these countries. Chapters on comparative youth justice and the privatisation of prisons are also presented.  The comparison of penal systems in various parts of the world, (by no means all countries are represented, in fact twelve are) makes interesting reading.

The foreword by David Downes of the Manheim Centre for Criminology and Criminal Justice of the London School of Economics.

The book is divided into four parts.  The initial part deals with introducing the reader to comparative penology.  The main section is part two which deals with the different countries represented for the assessment of their penal approach.  It begins with the American system followed by England and Wales, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Germany, Netherlands, France, Italy, Sweden, Finland and Japan.  Each approach has been labelled to some degree in the chapter headings, the United States being seen as hyper-incarceration oriented. England and Wales have a somewhat different approach called a "stop and go, and upward zig zag".  Australia and New Zealand have a "neo liberal" punitive method for dealing with criminals.  When speaking of the Netherlands there is the title "A beacon of tolerance dimmed".

Countries are considered from the point of view of social democracy and its impact on penology.  Japan on the other hand is viewed as "a fist in a velvet penal glove". Countries seem to differ in their penal culture.

Among the approaches which are prevalent in the different countries are those that are concerned with reforming criminals and their re-socialisation.  Others tend to emphasise retributionist philosophies of punishment, that is, getting the criminal to suffer for his offences.

Another approach or strategy is that of using extremely harsh and punitive methods to emphasise law and order, while a second seeks to use a managerial approach to punishment.  A third considers the importance of the human rights of individuals even when incarcerated.

A country’s stance on penology is often considered to be based on the imprisonment rate per one hundred thousand of the population.  There are certain errors in this approach as it depends very much on which crimes are being considered predominantly. There have been considerable changes in recent years.  The Netherlands were at one time a "beacon of enlightenment" but it appears that the prison population is fast escalating there.  Finland was remarkable in slashing imprisonment from 118 per one hundred thousand population in 1976 to 46 in 1999, but there has in recent times been an increase again.

The authors’ views are that excessive punishment remains not only inhuman but demonstrably inefficient and ineffective as a means of controlling crime in any kind of political economy.  The authors view the importance of pursuing a policy which fosters a rational discussion and deliberation in how best to respond to crime.  Popular pressure is that one must be firm with criminals and this populist approach has tended to increase the prison population in such countries as Sweden, Finland and Japan.

The effect of privatisation of the prison system has also brought about an increase in the prison population but not exclusively in the United States.  Both Holland and France have resisted to some degree the privatisation of prisons.

The latter part of the book is concerned with youth justice in different countries with different sentences often being provided for youth offenders.  There appear to be some similarities with youth justice in Finland and Sweden.  Youth justice in Britain has been transformed since the 19th century when young people received similar punishments as adults including the death penalty.

One of the lowest imprisonment rates is that of Japan which is 53 per hundred thousand as measured in 2002.  In contrast in the United States the prison population has risen dramatically.  It has the highest imprisonment rate of all the countries covered in the book.  In addition to the death penalty in the Unites States there is currently, and has been for some time, the war on drugs, with many offenders being imprisoned for offences related to drug addiction.  As one who visits prisons regularly in Britain, alcohol and drug use is a confirmed accompaniment to crime in many British prisons.

Data obtained in 2002 indicates that the imprisonment in the United States is 701 per one hundred thousand general population.  During the latter part of 2002, 2,330, 331  individuals were incarcerated.  This may be contrasted with the British population of prisoners in 2004 of 74, 488.  Each of the countries mentioned falls somewhere between the United States and Japan in their rate of imprisonment.

"Penal Systems - A Comparative Approach", is a complex book which provides a considerable amount of information and comparisons between countries.  The book is likely to be of interest to Prison Officers, Forensic Psychologists and Psychiatrists, as well as Universities training those likely to be involved with penal policy and practice. The book may best be read in parts as are required by the interest of the individual rather than read from page 1 to the end.  It is a comprehensive and up-to-date book and should serve as a staple textbook for use in law and social science courses dealing with penal policy and practice.

Dr L F Lowenstein

Extreme Killing, Understanding Serial and Mass Murder

Authors: James Alan Fox and Jack Levin

ISBN: 0761947558

Publishers: Sage

Price £19.99 RRP UK

Publication Date: 2005

Publisher’s Description:

Extreme Killing provides a comprehensive, fascinating overview of multiple homicide, including both serial and mass murder. Adopting a unified conceptual framework for understanding these divergent forms of extreme killing, this book illustrates the many violent expressions of power, revenge, terror, greed, and loyalty using contemporary and classic case studies in multiple murder.

Publisher’s Description:

In Extreme Killing, renowned experts James Alan Fox andJack Levin examine the theories of criminal behaviour and apply them to a multitude of well-known and lesser-known cases from around the world. The authors draw upon research from two large data sets - one comprised of serial killers and the other of those who have committed massacres. The book presents the many commonalities among multiple murders and also focuses on the varieties of serial and mass killing. The authors address the characteristics of both killers and their victims, and, in their concluding chapter, discuss the special concerns of multiple murder victims and their survivors.

Understanding Homicide

Author: Fiona Brookman

ISBN: 0-7619-4755-8

Publishers: Sage Publications

Price £19.99

Publication Date: January 2005

Publishers Information on the Book

Why do people kill?

What are the patterns and characteristics of UK homicide? How is homicide investigated?

How can it be prevented?

Understanding Homicide is a comprehensive and stimulating text that unravels the phenomenon of homicide.

The book bridges a major gap in criminological literature. Brookman combines original analysis with a lucid overview of the key theories and debates in the study of homicide and violence. She introduces the broad spectrum of different features, aspects and forms of homicide.

Topics covered include:

The killing of children

Multiple homicide (including serial and mass murder, terrorism and corporate homicide)

Domestic homicide

Female killers

Homicide among men

Features to aid the student include study tasks, review questions and annotated suggested further reading, including internet resources.

Understanding Homicide is ideal for undergraduate and postgrad­uate students in the fields of criminology, criminal justice, psy­chology, sociology and forensics. It' will also be invaluable to academics, researchers and practitioners interested in the phe­nomenon of homicide and the broader issue of violence.

'A very significant contribution to the available literature on vio­lence generally, and  Homicide in particular.' Kenneth Polk, Professor of Criminology, University of Melbourne

'This is a thoughtful, lively and informative book which helps to fill a sur­prising gap in the recent criminological literature. Mike Maguire, Professor of Criminology, Cardiff University

Fiona Brookman is Principal Lecturer in Criminology at the University of Glamorgan


Despite its continued prominence in the media, homicide has received surprisingly little serious analytical attention from criminologists in recent years, especially in Britain.  As Rock (1998: 9) puts it, homicide has suffered from 'intellectual neglect­fulness'. Fiona Brockman, whose excellent doctoral thesis on the subject I super­vised when she was at Cardiff University during the 1990s, has taken some important steps towards ending this neglect, and I am pleased to accept her invita­tion to write a brief preface to this very welcome book.

The book is a substantial contribution to the recent academic literature on homi­cide, at the same time being written in a reader-friendly manner which will help it reach a wider audience, including students of criminology and criminal justice.  It is informed throughout by the author's now considerable research and teaching experience in this area.  Her doctoral work was concerned with explanations of dif­ferent kinds of homicide, especially those committed by men, and she explored and developed theories around the concept of 'masculinities' and issues of control.  She also considered the extent to which homicide should be regarded as a unique kind of crime, deserving of its own theoretical explanations, or whether it should primarily be regarded as the extreme end of the spectrum of violent behaviour (the death of the victim often being the result of behaviour not initially aimed at killing, and to some extent contingent upon fortune - as it were, the difference between a knife hitting the heart or an arm) and hence explicable in the same ways as serious violence in general.  In exploring such questions, she undertook extensive analysis of both qualitative and quantitative data, including details of all cases recorded in England and Wales on the Homicide Index and a considerable number of police files.  These theoretical interests have been complemented more recently by policy ­focused research on behalf of the Home Office, in which she has both examined police investigations and has explored possible ways in which levels of homicide might be reduced in the UK.  This book draws on all the above work, bringing together the theoretical with the practical to present a comprehensive overview of the subject. It gives a clear and well evidenced picture of patterns and forms of homicide, discusses competing explanations of why it occurs, outlines key issues in police investigations, and considers the possibilities of reduction and prevention.  Whilst focused mainly on the UK, it deals with literature, research and debates from other parts of the world; especially North America, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

In short, this is a thoughtful, lively and informative book which helps to fill a surprising gap in the recent criminological literature in Britain. It deserves wide readership among students of the subject and non-specialists alike, and I wish it every success.

Mike Maguire

Professor of Criminology, Cardiff University

Reviews of the last two books above by Professor David Wilson

The first two books in this trilogy under review tell us much about the current state of academic criminology in the UK and in North America, especially in relation to how it is taught.   Brookman’s Understanding Homicide, for example, positively screams ‘based on a PhD thesis’, and ‘even though this is a textbook can it still count for the Research Assessment Exercise?’   As such it covers almost every theoretical perspective related to, or even semi-related to murder, and any undergraduate that ploughs their way through to the end, will undoubtedly be better informed about murder as a result. On the other hand Fox and Levin, who both teach at Northeastern University, have produced in Extreme Killing a rather lazy hybrid between a "true crime" expose and a magazine article, with an occasional nod to the academy thrown in for good measure. Theirs is a book about entertaining students, rather than teaching them, and seems much more to do with keeping them occupied with a steady diet of horror, rather than questioning why those horrors exist in the first place.  Any undergraduate ploughing their way through Extreme Killing -and unfortunately more will undoubtedly read this rather than Understanding Homicide, is not necessarily going to learn anything at all, but is simply going to have nightmares. So, having revealed my preference for Brookman, what do we learn about murder and serial murder?

Brookman, Principal Lecturer at the University of Glamorgan, sets out to provide an "accessible and comprehensive yet challenging overview of homicide for both teaching and research purpose" (p.1).  In doing so she returns to cover some of the territory that she occupied in her PhD, but offers more besides.  In particular she provides a lively and readable overview of biological, psychological and cultural approaches to understanding the phenomenon of homicide, whilst reminding her readers "we have yet to discover one single coherent theory that is capable of explaining homicide" (p.98).  So too she presents a wealth of valuable statistical information that throws some light onto the minutiae of murder, and even throws in a chapter about serial killing for good measure.  Indeed, in linking the first two books that are being reviewed here, Brookman’s Table 2.14 on page 50 demonstrates that between 1997 and 2001 there were some 4,123 murders in England and Wales and that 80 of these -or 1.9 per cent of the total could be attributed to serial killers.

Fox and Levin have previously written about serial and mass murder, and they suggest that Extreme Killing is an "opportunity to reassess some of the prevailing notions about these crimes -most notably, the artificial and often problematic distinctions between serial and mass murderers based primarily on the timing, and the uncritical embrace of sociopathy as an explanation" (p.ix).  And, if they had stuck to their plan, then Extreme Killing would indeed have been useful in attempting to unravel the supposed differences between serial killers, spree killers and mass murderers.  However, Fox and Levin are too aware that this essentially academic interest would lose them readers, and so they are seduced into "true crime" very quickly to keep their audience hooked.  For example, discussing Leonard Lake and Charles Ng, Fox and Levin suggest that their "torture tapes revealed the vicious rapes that the gruesome twosome perpetrated" (p.57), and that Jeffrey Dahmer "liked them young -or small, especially with dark skin -and he surely liked Tracy Edwards" (p.82).  Extreme Killing is filled with this type of extreme prose and lurid description, and when Fox and Levin pose interesting questions -such as why the numbers of serial killers quadrupled in the 1970s and 1980s, but declined in the 1990s, or why some groups -such as the elderly, the young and prostitutes are targeted by serial killers they rarely provide an answer.  So, for example, they suggest that "cultural diversity and economic competition have together produced a pervasive sense of resentment and close-minded, twisted logic in the hearts and heads of many hateful Americans" (p.234), this explanation - which hints at structural causes for the phenomenon of serial killing, is never pursued, but is merely left on its own as a conclusion with no further analysis offered. 

To Brookman’s great credit, she also theorises about the homicides committed by corporations and by the state.

David Wilson


"Internet Law Book Reviews"