World-Leading Criminologist reveals insight into privatisation of criminal justice

  • Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Department of Social Sciences students and team heard directly from John Lea, Honorary Professor on the privatisation of criminal justice in his lecture at the University of Roehampton.

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Professor John Lea provided insight into how the privatisation for prisons has developed over the past decade and the impact that this has had on society as a whole. He argued that the debate wasn’t around whether or not private prisons or public ones were better. Instead, it is crucial to understand how society’s attitude is moving towards people in the criminal justice system being considered as ‘risks’ rather than citizens with rights.   

He also demonstrated a similar movement from public to private within the police force. He talked about how policing in public spaces has changed to more of a surveillance exercise. These issues have become increasingly complex as public spaces have also become privatised with the land-owners enforcing anti-social behaviour rules. 

Professor Lea said "The advance of the private security industry into the management of not only prisons and probation but increasingly the policing of public space is a matter for concern. It raises issues of quality, accountability and, most importantly, the power and political influence of transnational corporations whose global reach exceeds that of most elected governments."

Professor Lea has a long and distinguished career spanning over four decades, and was recently awarded the British Society of Criminology Outstanding Achievement Award 2015. His expertise includes organised crime, the history and development of crime and criminal justice institutions.

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