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All the editors and contributors to this book are members of The University of Birmingham's 'Community and Criminal Justice Group' (BCCJ Group). Drawing on the different disciplines of law, criminology, forensic psychology, social work and public management, they explore the shifts and progress made in criminal justice in England and Wales over the past two decades and highlight the possibilities and pitfalls for the future. The overarching theme of the book is the balance between the role of central government in creating and shaping the regulatory framework of criminal justice and the potential for communities at local level to become more involved and to exercise more responsibility for themselves in responding to crime and anti-social behaviour in their midst. These twin dynamics are explored in the two main sections of the book.
In Part I (The Regulatory State) through a series of case-studies, the authors examine how the central state has sought to address the risks and problems associated with crime and anti-social behaviour in modern times. They consider the new context for law and order which arose during the period under consideration and ask how and why new sanctions were put in place to regulate particular kinds of behaviour. They also highlight some of the unintended consequences, notably the criminalisation of more people. Then in Part II (Empowered Communities as Stakeholders in Criminal Justice) the book explores the potential for local communities playing a greater role in addressing the problems of crime and anti-social behaviour in their own neighbourhoods. In this section of the book the authors also consider the prospects for crime reduction through a more 'localist' approach in which citizens and communities play a more active part in a 'big society'. The book provides a timely and topical stock-taking of key issues and challenges within criminal justice. Through an exploration of the relative strengths and limitations of 'centrist' and 'localist' approaches to tackling crime and anti-social behaviour, it also offers a prescription of principles and priorities for a way forward.