Science-fiction visions of dystopian societies, such as Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, Kurt Vonnegut’s Harrison Bergeron and Philip K Dick’s Minority Report, all three turned into successful films, are increasingly evoked in discussions of changes in society, individual freedoms and state control of criminal justice. These stories, in the eloquent words of Lucia Zedner, tap into our worst fears of:
"..a shift from a post- to a pre-crime society...in which the possibility of forestalling risks competes with and even takes precedence over responding to wrongs done. In consequence, the post-crime orientation of criminal justice is increasingly overshadowed by the pre-crime logic of security. [...] Pre-crime, by contrast, shifts the temporal perspective to anticipate and forestall that which has not yet occurred and may never do so." (2007: 262)
In Predicting Young Criminals, his recent article for CrimeTalk, Sean Creaney is therefore in good company in seeing parallels between Minority Report, with its pre-crime social exclusion of predicted murderers, and the pre-emptive turn in youth justice developments. He reflects on the role of practitioners required to assess the likelihood of young people becoming offenders, using fallible methods, and then to direct them onto youth offending programmes before they have offended.