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Sovereignty, Biopolitics and the Local Government of Crime in Britain

NCJ Number
Theoretical Criminology Volume: 9 Issue: 3 Dated: August 2005 Pages: 265-287
Kevin Stenson
Date Published
August 2005
23 pages
Through the use of rural and urban examples of biopolitical struggles, this paper highlights interactions between official and informal biopolitics (territories) in the governance of crime in Britain, with biopolitics involving communal groups attempting to govern from below.
The management of crime, risk, and fear and the recoding of other governmental issues under these headings have ascended the political agendas of liberal democracies. In areas of the world, post-September 11th security fears have reinforced concerns about such macro-level issues as terrorism, people, arms, and drug smuggling, in addition to local ones about public or community safety. This paper explores the implications of the interest in local crime control and public safety in relation to a political, as well as spatial, turn in criminology, given that a concern with the local governance of crime and safety entails sensitivity to spatial differences. This applies both to recognition of different levels of governance and how these issues are managed in different places. It is suggested that criminology avoid relying on state-favored technical, depoliticized conceptual tools, insensitive to local context and political processes, to analyze and manage local problems of crime and safety. Complex inter-communal conflicts are increasingly coded under the simpler headings of crime, fear, and public safety: governing through crime. This coding overloads the capacity of local law enforcement and criminal justice systems to manage these political issues, at which level sovereign authority is most obviously manifested and challenged. Notes, references