The Criminalisation of
Social Policy?
Janet Jamieson
Loïc Wacquant’s
Punishing the Poor Thesis
There is a “new institutional machinery for
managing poverty” wherein “the invisible
hand of the market and the iron fist of the
state combine and complement each other”
(2001: 404)
‘Workfare’ and ‘prisonfare’ a response to
the problems of the neoliberal state in
Wacquant observes that within the
European context England has often served
as the ‘Trojan horse’ and the ‘acclimation
chamber’ (2001: 405) for a US inspired
‘penalisaton of poverty’ (ibid.: 401)
Loïc Wacquant – lecture on the penal state
available at:
The Special Case of Anti-Social
Boundary blurring:
• Ambiguity of ASB definition
• Reliance on civil as opposed
to criminal law
• Multi-agency endeavour.
Displacement of goals:
• Loss of the social in favour
of social order and crime
control objectives (Rodger,
Lessons and Dangers
Undermining civil rights of
young people;
Disproportionate to act
Meaningless or unenforceable
Targeted on vulnerable
(In)Justice by geography
Alienating and exclusionary
Promote intolerance
Criminalisation of social
Dispersal Powers in Merseyside
I didn’t know anything of the restriction till that
moment so… and then after it I was like “well that
was wrong, we weren’t in the wrong, the police were
in the wrong for that, we didn’t do nothing”. I could
understand if I had drugs on me or weapons but we
didn’t. I was quite peed off to be honest.
I really care because I know it’s not alright especially
when we’re not even doing anything wrong [...] So
why should we care? Why should we care anyway
yeah? Because who are they to tell us where we can
and can’t go? Bang out of order.
and the woman, oh my god I thought she was going
to hit me. She was just so nasty and you know I
mean my mates, we’ve never ever took drugs, we’ve
never done anything wrong. All we were doing was
singing you know that’s not an offence, alright yeah
we were walking down, it was X Avenue and that’s
got the one with is it a Section Thirty and she just
bollocked us but she was so nasty.
Enter the Coalition Government
Big Society
Spending Review
Green Paper on ASB
Criminal Behaviour Orders
Crime Prevention Injunctions
Community Protection Notice (levels 1 &2)
Police Direction Powers
Community Trigger
Riots 2011
PM describes the August riots as a ‘wake up call for the country’ which will
necessitate a ‘security fightback’ of increased police presence on the
streets and a ‘social fightback’ to improve parenting and get ‘families
back on track’ (Cameron, 2011).
“These riots were not about poverty” (Cameron, 2011)
The Riots, Communities and Victims Panel (2012) “a lack of opportunities
for young people, poor parenting, a failure of the justice system to
rehabilitate offenders, materialism and suspicion of the police”
What is the place of ASB measures in
contemporary Youth Justice?
Is a criminalisation of social policy evident in
contemporary youth justice policy and practice?
Is the contemporary policy preoccupation with
‘troubled families’ fit for purpose?
Can the youth justice system help to give young
people a ‘stake in society’?