An educational resource at the heart of criminological teaching, debate, and research

Welcome to CrimeTalk

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CrimeTalk aims to be an educational resource for university teaching, public debate, criminological research and professional practice; a site where people can find information, comments and insights, learn from each other, where everyday experience meets scientific research, and where professional practice mixes with popular feeling and academic thought; a site which generates ideas, policies and change.

Because it will be interactive and dynamic, because I listen to your voices, I hope you will be able to make it your own and become part of a diverse community concerned with crime, anti-social behaviour and social justice.  It will be an independent online publisher of research, essays, comments, rants, policy proposals, reviews of media output, printed books, e-books, podcasts, course materials, interviews, and news.

CrimeTalk is a unique educational publishing venture concerned with crime, criminal justice, social deviance, morality, immorality and anti-social behaviour. Launched in January 2011, it aims to provide a service for [1] university students and scholars in criminology, criminal justice studies, law, history and the social sciences; [2] the wide range of criminal justice professionals, such as police, prison and probation officers, who constantly need a perspective and bigger picture within which to locate their policies and action; [3] those concerned groups and individuals, ranging from politicians, novelists and journalists to activists, who talk a lot about crime and social justice as part of their work; and [4] those who have to pick up the pieces, such as victims, family, charity workers, and clergy, and interested members of the public in search of explanations and solutions.

CrimeTalk is about crime and criminal justice, social deviance and social justice, morality and immorality, anti-social behaviour and conformity, systems of discipline and levels of tolerance, and of course the interconnections between them. That means it is about all forms of social censure and all types of censured activity or people. In 1919, one Professor Giddings invented the "seven devils" to summarize this field of enquiry: the depraved, deficient, deranged, deformed, disorderly, dirty and devitalized.  At that time, and for some years after, criminology and social administration focussed on what were seen as the degenerate, defective, daft, debauched, diabolical, disobedient, disruptive and dissenting.

Yes, lots of D's but not much about those people or forces that were most destructive, damaging and detrimental towards humanity - dictators, derivatives and diseases - or the diabolical systems and circumstances which gave them power. Our notion of who the bad guys are has changed.  We still talk of delinquency, deviance, dissidence, social decay, the dependency culture, and dysfunctional families, but, at last, we are beginning to talk a lot about corrupt cultures and the clowns, charlatans and cretins in charge who make us cynical about civic idealism.  We're moving from the D-word to the C-word.

Our mass media are full of stories of crime, obsessing with the negative and with conflict, and we consume them in large numbers. Negative is a news value; positive is not. So crime is still a daily staple for today's media. This is in a world full of diversity and difference, where we know that a terrorist one decade is an acclaimed leader of humanity the next, where one person's heroism is another's censured activity, and where one community's success is another's failure.

CrimeTalk welcomes contributions of various political hues and tones to our debates and discussions on all these matters. Whatever my own political beliefs, I have always tried to practice tolerance and democracy in the genuine belief that free speech and quality of thought matters and that out of the multiplicity of voices will emerge some sense. Sadly, this is often abused, however that never justified abandoning a good principle.

Readers might like to know that, whilst a writer of books in radical sociological theory, their editor has never been a member of any political party and these days does not much like politics of any kind. Humanity is a complex mess and will not be amenable to any kind of simple politics. I guess I prefer Shakespeare's deeply poignant perception in Macbeth:

Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage, 
And then is heard no more; it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

I hope CrimeTalk will become an archive of our knowledge on this subject, an educational resource of interest, use and value to those who can make progress in society.  I want it also to be like the common room or Faculty that most universities have lost, an area where scholars and students can relax and talk without fear or pressure - I want it to rescue some of the good things being lost in the contemporary commercialization and privatization of education. But above all I want it to become a global centre of learning, out of which emerge some good ideas for change.

Colin Sumner

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