Sydney Institute of Criminology
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From the repository...

As part of our 50th anniversary celebrations, the entire archive of 78 Institute proceedings files has been digitised here, with topics ranging from family violence, sentencing and shoplifting to white collar crime and mental health in the justice system. Beginning in 1967, the proceedings detail twenty years of the Institute’s early and important work in researching and discussing key crime issues in Australia, many of which are still of concern today.

Given the recent political discussion around the potential lifting of the current ban on Adler shotguns in Australia - which have raised concerns due to their magazine capacity and fast-moving lever action - it seems fitting this week to revisit the Institute's early writing on the topic of gun control.

This report was written in 1985, prior to the Port Arthur massacre which would later inspire game-changing gun control legislation in Australia. It summarises the proceedings of a seminar held by the Institute regarding various perspectives on the gun control debate at that time. Contributors to the report represented a range of organisations, including the Australian Institute of Criminology, the Firearms Sports Association, and the Arms and Militaria Collectors' Association of NSW. 

The Australian Institute of Criminology, which has a longstanding and well-respected reputation as Australia's national criminology research body, was represented by Professor Richard Harding. He canvassed a number of issues, including data, education, registration, the politics of reform, and also victimisation. Professor Harding argued that gun law reform in NSW was “better late than never” (pg. 32). Raising the issue of the apparent significant spike in gun ownership that had occurred in recent years, Professor Harding acknowledged the logistics of what reform would entail, but argued  “… it should and must be done, albeit belatedly. There will be tangible public benefit from doing so” (pg. 36).

The former Attorney-General of NSW, T.W. Sheahan, also spoke at the seminar. Largely concerned with community safety, he stated, "Guns that are allowed to play a major role in urban life create the fear which so badly damages the increasingly important value people are placing on the quality of their lives" (pg. 14). Much like the political commentators of today, he also drew comparisons between Australia and the USA when summarising the debate:

"Both [sides of the argument] seemed to agree on the search for freedom as their basic motive and the mark of the safe society. On the one hand the “gun lobby” (as it is called) said that free access to guns guaranteed that freedom and therefore created the safe society, while the opponents of that lobby and those in favour of a strict regulation felt that the gun was likely to create a “fear spiral” and therefore weaken freedom and bring us to a situation where there was no safe society. Both the United States and Australia seem to be heading in that direction, and the argument was, of course, that that spiral could be stopped” (pg. 15).

Overall, the report discusses the difficulty of balancing safety concerns while ensuring gun control legislation was not "unduly restrictive" (pg. 12), the concept of gun ownership as a right, community safety, and fear of crime. Reflecting upon recent debate, it is clear that these challenges continue to be of concern today.

To read the entire 1985 document on gun control, please visit the repository or follow this link to the individual document. 

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Upcoming Events
'East End Stories: Research and Social Change in London's East End' with Professor Dick Hobbs

Date: 8 November 2016, 5:00-6:30pm
Location: Main Hall, Parramatta Town Hall, NSW

East London is known for its ethnic diversity, poverty, politics and crime. Perched on the banks of the river Thames and on the periphery of London's financial hub, East London generated a mutant form of entrepreneurialism that pervaded every aspect of social life. Drawing on over 30 years of ethnographic research, this talk will reflect on the changes that continue to impact on the area that Jack London once called "The Awful East". In particular this talk will cover an era that saw East London morph from "London’s gash", into a fashionable zone of transition where traditional options such as crime retain their appeal for the excluded.

About the speaker:

Professor Hobbs is an urban ethnographer specializing in the sociology of London, organized and professional crime, the nighttime economy, violence, drug markets and research methodology. He trained as a sociologist at the LSE and the University of Surrey before working at the Universities of Oxford and Durham, where he held Chairs in both Sociology and Law. He was Professor of Sociology at the LSE (2005-2011) before taking a post in the Sociology Department at Essex University (2011-2014), where he was Professor of Sociology and Director of the Criminology Centre. In 2016, Professor Hobbs received the British Society of Criminology Society Lifetime Achievement Award.

To attend this event, please send an RSVP to SSAP-research@westernsydney.edu.au

Designs on punishment: the architecture of incarceration and the architecture of hope
Date: 24 November 2016, 6:30-7:30pm
Location: University of Melbourne

Like hospital design, the architecture of incarceration conveys clear messages about the individuals confined within and how they are expected to behave. Yet, while prisons and hospitals traditionally have shared an ethos of discipline and surveillance that dehumanises their occupants and instils feelings of fear and vulnerability, there has in very recent times emerged a different approach to designing and building such institutions – described by the architectural theorist behind Maggie’s Centres (a developing, global cancer care network), as the ‘architecture of hope’. 

Drawing on the findings of a major, three-year international research study that looks at the role of prison architects and the effects of carceral design, Professor Yvonne Jewkes will discuss the broad rationales behind the prison modernization programmes currently underway in Australia, New Zealand, the UK and parts of Europe, including the primary drivers behind design decisions and the extent to which top-level stakeholders are cognisant of the effects of their decisions on the everyday lives of prisoners. Using examples of international best (and less good) practice, Professor Jewkes will reflect on the extent to which contemporary prison architecture communicates a nation or state’s particular philosophical stance on punishment, and she will consider how far design creativity can be taken, while still remaining attuned to the real-world application of novel thinking about prison architecture and design.'

For more information and to register, please follow the link.
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Recent Publications
Methamphetamine use and acquisitive crime: evidence of a relationship

By Susan Goldsmid and Matthew Willis

Methamphetamine use among Australian police detainees is rising; the impact of this rise on crime trends, and particularly on trends in acquisitive crime, is yet to be established. Identifying trends in and motivations for offending among methamphetamine users may assist law enforcement and policymakers to better target resources.

This paper examines the engagement in acquisitive crime, and perceived motivations for methamphetamine-driven crime, of a sample of Australian police detainees recruited in 2013 through the Drug Use Monitoring in Australia program.

Methamphetamine users reported deriving a significantly higher proportion of their income from crime than non-users. Logistic regression analysis reveals the use of methamphetamine, heroin and/or cannabis predicts engagement in acquisitive crime when other drug use and polydrug use is controlled for. In addition, methamphetamine users reported their use played a contributing role in their offending, most commonly through intoxication or the need for money to purchase drugs.

The findings indicate recent methamphetamine use increases the risk of engagement in acquisitive offences.

The full report can be read online here.

The Implementation of Feminist Law Reforms: The Case of Post-provocation Sentencing
By Rosemary Hunter and Danielle Tyson

In 2005, the Australian State of Victoria abolished the controversial partial defence of provocation. Part of the impetus for the reforms was to challenge provocation’s victim-blaming narratives and the defence’s tendency to excuse men’s violence against intimate partners. However, concerns were also expressed that these narratives and excuses would simply reappear at the sentencing stage when men who had killed intimate partners were convicted of murder or manslaughter. This article analyses post-provocation sentencing judgments, reviewing cases over the 10-year period since the reforms in order to determine whether these concerns have been borne out. The analysis suggests that at the level of sentencing outcomes they have not been borne out, although at the level of discourse the picture is more mixed. While sentencing narratives continue to reproduce the language of provocation, at the same time, post-provocation sentencing appears to provide opportunities for feminist judging – picking up on the spirit of the reforms – which have been taken up by some judges more than others.

The article can be found online here.

Crime, Justice and Social Media
By Michael Salter

How is social media changing contemporary understandings of crime and injustice, and what contribution can it make to justice-seeking? Abuse on social media often involves betrayals of trust and invasions of privacy that range from the public circulation of intimate photographs to mass campaigns of public abuse and harassment using platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, 8chan and Reddit – forms of abuse that disproportionately target women and children.

Crime, Justice and Social Media argues that online abuse is not discontinuous with established patterns of inequality but rather intersects with and amplifies them. Embedded within social media platforms are inducements to abuse and harass other users who are rarely provided with the tools to protect themselves or interrupt the abuse of others. There is a relationship between the values that shape the technological design and administration of social media, and those that inform the use of abuse and harassment to exclude and marginalise diverse participants in public life.

Drawing on original qualitative research, this book is essential reading for students and scholars in the fields of cyber-crime, media and crime, cultural criminology, and gender and crime.

The book can be purchased online here.

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Call for Papers
Safer Communities, Safer Relationships Conference

Date:4-6 October 2017
Location: Tuscany, Italy

Persistent violence and other serious offending behaviour has a devastating effect on victims, family members, society and the perpetrators themselves. Finding effective solutions to reduce the incidence and severity of offending requires a cross-disciplinary focus. Only with a concerted and ongoing effort can we succeed in reducing the effects of these behaviours in our societies.

Set in the intimate surrounds of a medieval town centre in Prato, Italy, within the 18th century Palazzo Vaj (just 20 minutes from Florence, in Tuscany, Italy) this international conference brings together interdisciplinary practitioners, policy contributors, decision makers, advocates, and researchers to examine various aspects of serious offending and violence. The aim of the conference is to share research, practice and policy developments; to stimulate critical examination of the multifaceted causal issues; and to foster ongoing learning and collaborations.

The conference will give particular attention to the following themes:

  • Understanding violence and other serious offences
  • Effective law and policy developments for managing and reducing offending
  • Intimate partner and family violence
  • Solutions for severe and persistent young offenders
  • ‘Crossover kids’ – from protection to offending
  • Origins of violence and its life course
  • Neurobiology of violence
  • Mental illness, substance misuse, disability and violence
  • Effective interventions with perpetrators
  • Family law
  • Child protection

First call for abstracts closes 30 June, 2017. For more information, please visit the conference website.

Journal of Criminological Research, Policy and Practice

This multidisciplinary international journal provides a unique single outlet on the notion of a ‘seamless disposal’, covering contact with the police, prosecutors, courts and sentencing through to custody and release. The journal considers how criminal justice institutions engage with the community and non criminal justice agencies.

Each issue includes peer-reviewed papers covering three areas of

• Initial and preventative contact

• Containment (involving police, courts and custody)

• Through-care, resettlement and community based work.

The journal publishes research from a variety of perspectives including the offender(s), the victim(s), communities and the professionals involved.

As well as regular research papers, JCRPP also welcomes brief research reports. These must not exceed 3,000 words in total, including references (up to 12 allowed) and up to one table.

For further information please contact Dr Philip Birch (University of Western Sydney, Australia: p.birch@uws.edu.au) or Professor Jane L. Ireland (University of Central Lancashire and Mersey Care NHS Trust, UK: JLIreland1@uclan.ac.uk). The journal's website can also be found here.

The Second International Conference on Non-Adversarial Justice
The Australasian Institute of Judicial Administration is pleased to announce that The Second International Conference on Non-Adversarial Justice: Integrating Theory and Practice will be held at the PARKROYAL Darling Harbour in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia from 6-8 April 2017.

Consolidating on the successful inaugural Non-Adversarial Justice: Implications for the Legal System and Society Conference, hosted by the AIJA and Monash University Faculty of Law in 2010, the second conference aims:
  • To promote discussion and consolidate knowledge about non-adversarial justice practices operating in justice systems today.
  • To promote dialogue between courts and tribunals and the social sciences in relation to non-adversarial justice practices.
  • To consider the theoretical and practical challenges facing courts utilising non-adversarial justice practices and programs      including ensuring theory is reflected in the practice of non-adversarial justice and vice versa.

The deadline for abstract submission has been extended until the 14th of November 2016. For more information on registering for the conference, submitting an abstract or sponsoring the conference, please visit the conference website.
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Worth a Watch
4 Corners: Copwatchers
In New York City, a controversial group of citizen activists patrol the streets, capturing police officers on camera as they work. They're part of a US wide movement taking on police departments following a succession of deaths of black men and boys at the hands of police officers. In the age of smart phones and social media, many of these deaths have been captured on camera. One of the first was Eric Garner. The confronting footage of his death, as he was held down in a chokehold by a group of officers, captured the nation's attention. Garner's dying pleas of "I can't breathe" became the catchcry of protestors demanding justice.

Four Corners brings you the story of these "Copwatchers" as they roam
the streets of New York, listening in to the police radio, then race to film the arrests and the behaviour of the NYPD. In this raw, fast moving film, the copwatchers engage in tense exchanges with the police. Sometimes they are arrested. Despite their provocative approach, they have support from some unlikely quarters.

Copwatchers, from the BBC and presented by Sarah Ferguson, can be seen on ABC iview and at abc.net.au/4corners.
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Student Opportunities
Apply for Sydney Institute of Criminology summer internships!
The Institute’s internship program is open to LLB, JD and Masters of Criminology students of the Sydney Law School. The program is undertaken on a pro-bono basis. Interns must be available to work 10 full days over January and February.

The internship program will be of interest to students seeking to gain experience in an organisation devoted to research and public policy in the area of criminal justice. Interns will be provided with the opportunity to participate in a broad range of Institute activities and to interact, both formally and informally, with Institute staff members.

To apply, please send a cover letter, CV, copy of your academic transcript, writing sample, and details of two academic referees to law.criminology@sydney.edu.au.

Applications for the summer internship close at 5pm Friday 18 November 2016.
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Job Advertisements
Community Lawyer - Family Violence Team - Melbourne, VIC

The Eastern Community Legal Centre has been selected by the Australian Government to implement a specialist family violence unit under the Women’s Safety Package (announced in September 2015). The Family Violence Team provides end-to-end intensive legal support to vulnerable women at risk of family violence, including a specific focus on early
intervention and advocacy in child protection matters and where clients are experiencing multiple legal issues.

As a key member of the Family Violence Team, the Community Lawyer will work alongside an advocate, project and other personnel as part of a specialist family violence team within the broader legal practice. The Community Lawyer will ideally have considerable experience in family violence, child protection and generalist law and the ability to deliver holistic and high quality prevention and intervention legal services to vulnerable women.

Applications close on the 14th of November 2016. For more information and to apply, please follow the link.

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