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Historical Institutionalism, Agendas and Crime: an analysis of the politics of crime since 1979 Stephen Farrall, Will Jennings, Emily Gray and Colin Hay.

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Presentation on theme: "Historical Institutionalism, Agendas and Crime: an analysis of the politics of crime since 1979 Stephen Farrall, Will Jennings, Emily Gray and Colin Hay."— Presentation transcript:

1 Historical Institutionalism, Agendas and Crime: an analysis of the politics of crime since 1979 Stephen Farrall, Will Jennings, Emily Gray and Colin Hay BSC2014

2 What is Historical Institutionalism? Concerned with illuminating how institutions and institutional settings mediate the ways in which processes unfold over time. Institutions do not simply ‘channel’ policies; they help to define policy concerns, create the ‘objects’ of policy and shape the nature of the interests in policies which actors may have. So … Politics does not simply create policies; policies also create politics. Attempts to understand how political and policy processes and relationships play out over time coupled with an appreciation that prior events, procedures and processes will have consequences for subsequent events. There are both fast- and slow-moving causal processes and outcomes.

3 Figure 1: Property Crime Per Capita (Home Office Recorded Statistics and BCS)

4 Economic change Changes in the housing market Changes in social security provision Changes in education policies (esp. after 1988) In which ways might this be a legacy of ‘Thatcherite’ policies?

5 Economic Changes During the 1970s there was a move away from the commitment to Keynesian policies and full employment. Dramatic economic restructuring overseen by Thatcher governments. Consequently, levels of unemployment rose through the 1980s (see Fig 2).

6 Figure 2: Unemployment Rate (%),

7 This in turn led to increases in levels of inequality (Figure 3), augmented by changes in taxation policies which favoured the better off. Economic Changes

8 Figure 3: Income Inequality (Gini coefficient),

9 Using time series analyses for Jennings et al (2012) find statistically significant relationships for: 1: the unemployment rate on the rate of property crime (consistent with other studies), 2: we also find that the crime-economy link strengthened during this period. 3: (economic inequality just outside bounds of significance). The Economy and Crime in Post-War Britain

10 1980 Housing Act (+ others): created RTB – saw a huge rise in owner-occupation. Held to have created residualisation of council housing; transient/marginalised residents with low levels of employment. Contributed to increases in inequality (Ginsberg, 1989) and concentration of crime (Murie, 1997). Housing Policy

11 Social Security : Some tinkering with the DHSS Social Security Act based on Fowler Review. Following this payments reduced for many individual benefits claimants (whilst total spend increased due to unemployment).

12 Social Security Evidence to suggest that reductions in government expenditure are associated with rises in crime during the 1980s (Reilly and Witt, 1992). Jennings et al (2012) suggest that increases in welfare spending is associated with declines in the property crime rate.

13 Education Changes in education policies encouraged schools to exclude children in order to improve place in league tables. Exclusions rose during the 1990s, reaching a peak of 12,668 in

14 Education Dumped on the streets this fuelled ASB (Home Office RDS Occ. Paper No. 71). The BCS shows sudden jump of people reporting “teens hanging around” to be a problem from an average of 8% before 2001 to 30% after School exclusions helped to create Labour’s discourse of ASB and need for C&DA 1998.

15 British Crime Survey ASB items

16 What happened to crime (etc)? Rise in crime (Fig 5). This was generally rising before 1979, but the rate of increase picked up after early 1980s and again in early 1990s. Fear of crime rises (tracks crime rates, Fig 6). People want to see an increase in spending on the police/prisons (with decrease of spending on social security, Fig 7).

17 Figure 5: Property Crime Per Capita (Home Office Recorded Statistics and BCS)

18 Figure 6: Percentage worried about crime (BCS )

19 Fig 7: Priorities for extra spending (social security vs. police) BSAS

20 Temporality of Thatcherite Policy Spillover

21 Developments post-1993: Howard (Home Sec ) talks tough on crime. Prison population rises immediately (Newburn 2007). Rise in average sentences: Riddell 1989:170; Newburn 2007: Trend continued, appears due to tough sentences and stricter enforcement. MoJ 2009: 2-3 cites mandatory minimum sentences (aimed at burglars and drug traffickers) as a cause. Prison population grew by 2.5% p.a. from 1945 to 1995, but by 3.8% p.a (MoJ, 2009: 4).

22 Labour Party’s Response Move to the political right. ‘Tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime’. Focus on ‘young offenders’ (Sch Exclusions related to?). Did not oppose Crime (Sentences) Act 1997 despite it being quite draconian (‘3 strikes’, minimum mandatory sentences).

23 Labour In Government Needed to do something about crime because … a) it actually was a problem (peak was in 1994) but still a source of public concern b) they needed to be seen to be doing something to avoid being accused of having ‘gone soft on crime again’.

24 What have Govts done? They devote more time to crime in it’s expressed policy agenda (Fig 9). Little sustained interest in crime until 60s (2%). After 1979 GE rises to 8%. Big jump again in 1996 (15%). Thereafter runs at or near to 20%.

25 Figure 9: Proportion of attention to law and crime in Queen’s Speech (from policyagendas.org)

26 What have Govts done? Farrall and Jennings report statistically significant relationships for: 1: national crime rate on Govt attention on crime in Queen’s Speeches, and, 2: effects of public opinion on Govt. attention on crime in Queen’s Speeches. So the Govt responds to crime rates and expressions of public concern about crime.

27 Future Work ESRC funded project using BCS, BSAS, GHS, LFS etc. to explore trends using self- report data (and at the regional level) Time series models the main approach. Age-period-cohort analyses to explore ‘Thatcher’s Children’. Shef.ac.uk/law/research/projects/crimetrajectories Twitter.com/Thatcher_legacy newsletter.

28 Further Info/Readings Farrall, S. and Hay, C. (2010) Not So Tough on Crime? Why Weren’t the Thatcher Governments More Radical In Reforming the Criminal Justice System? British Journal of Criminology, 50(3): Farrall, S. and Jennings, W. (2012) Policy Feedback and the Criminal Justice Agenda: an analysis of the economy, crime rates, politics and public opinion in post-war Britain, Contemporary British History, 26(4): Farrall, S. and Jennings, W. (2014) Thatcherism and Crime: The Beast that Never Roared?, in Farrall S., and Hay, C. Thatcher’s Legacy: Exploring and Theorising the Long-term Consequencies of Thatcherite Social and Economic Policies, Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp Farrall, S. and Hay, C. (2014) Locating ‘Thatcherism’ In The ‘Here and Now’, in Farrall S., and Hay, C. Thatcher’s Legacy: Exploring and Theorising the Long-term Consequencies of Thatcherite Social and Economic Policies, Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp Farrall, S., Gray, E., Jennings, W. Hay, C. (2014) Using Ideas Derived from Historical Institutionalism to Illuminate the Long-term Impacts on Crime of ‘Thatcherite’ Social and Economic Policies: A Working Paper. Hay, C. and Farrall, S. (2014) Interrogating and Conceptualising the Legacy of Thatcherism, in Farrall S., and Hay, C. Thatcher’s Legacy: Exploring and Theorising the Long-term Consequencies of Thatcherite Social and Economic Policies, Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp Hay, C. and Farrall, S. (2011) Establishing the ontological status of Thatcherism by gauging its ‘periodisability’: towards a ‘cascade theory’ of public policy radicalism, British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 13(4): Jennings, W., Farrall, S. and Bevan, S. (2012) The Economy, Crime and Time: an analysis of recorded property crime in England & Wales , International Journal of Law, Crime and Justice, 40(3):


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