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GERN Research Paper Series - nr 1
“Crime, violence, justice and social order”
Monitoring Contemporary Security Issues
GERN (Groupement Européen de Recherches sur les Normativités) is a large consortium of scientific
researchers in the domain of deviance and social control, more precisely studying delinquency, penal
institutions, public policies of security and the importance of penal questions in society (insecurity,
penal justice, juvenile justice, sanctions, police, private security, public policies of security and of
prevention, the creation of the penal law, violence, informal economy, economic and financial
delinquency, the relation of legal norms with other social norms, ...). GERN started in the middle of
the eighties. It was Philippe Robert who gave the initial impulse for the initiative.
The consortium is multidisciplinary, nourished in the first instance by sociology, history, political
sciences, law and criminology (in those countries where it is a discipline). To a smaller extent
anthropology, demography and economic sciences are present within the consortium. Today GERN is
a scientific network present in ten European countries, uniting forty research units and researchers
of different disciplines. The consortium includes some associated centres outside Europe, e.g.
Canada, Argentina and India. GERN has arrangements for collaboration with other networks or with
international scientific organisations.
Through time, GERN has acquired experience in building a culture of collaboration. Specific working
tools are used for this objective, including Interlabos (day conferences), conferences, research
seminars and working groups. In September 2012 GERN organised its first GERN Summer School on
“Crime, Justice, Social Control and Security”, at Ghent University, Faculty of Law (Belgium). PhD
students working in the domain of “Crime, Justice, Social Control and Security” were brought
together, stemming from the different GERN partners. The Summer School was directed at students
who were in an early stage (but not at the very beginning) of their PhD-project and who had already
explored in a preliminary way some problems that they had encountered in their project but who
were at the stage of making strategic choices, i.e. finding solutions and making cutting-edge decisions
(such as setting restrictions, operational choices, measurement issues, target populations).
The Summer School was dealing with the transition from theoretical assumptions to empirically
defining what kind of inquiry the students wanted to develop and how they wanted to achieve their
ultimate research goals. Many PhD students experience doubts at that stage because they realise
that making one decision sometimes cuts off other directions. The intention of the Summer School
was to make the PhD students aware of the different strategic choices they had to make in
operationalizing their theoretical framework and defining their field of study.
The Summer School in Ghent included a combination of courses, given by Joanna Shapland (Sheffield
University), Adam Crawford (Leeds University), Jacques de Maillard (Université de Versailles Saint-
Quentin-en-Yvelines/CESDIP) and Paul Ponsaers (Ghent University). Lecturers were asked to develop
themes during their lectures that were of common interest for PhD students working in the domain
of “Crime, Justice, Social Control and Security”. PhD students were expected to intensely prepare the
Summer School by writing and presenting a paper. The students obtained feedback from the
lecturers as well as from the other PhD students.
This book contains a selection of these papers, which were reworked after the Summer School and
afterwards submitted to a double blind peer review procedure. It is a rich compilation of new
European work in the field of “Crime, Violence, Justice and Social Order”. The GERN Research Paper
Series has the ambition to monitor European contemporary security issues, reflecting the result of
actual doctoral research in the framework of the GERN consortium which has been discussed during
the GERN Summer Schools. A better monitoring system for key topics in the domain of interest can
scarcely be imagined. The series aims at disseminating the results of research conducted in the GERN
network. With this new initiative GERN contributes to a better understanding of contemporary
questions concerning “Crime, Violence, Justice and Social Order”, presenting recent research results
and scientific reflection, by devising new approaches and by re-evaluating the heritage of social
sciences in this domain. It implies a new openness with regard to other disciplines and to the
normative questions resulting from the commission of crime and the reaction to it by actors in the
criminal justice system and beyond.
The editorial board is proud to issue this first volume, comprising original and new research papers
that have been proofed by international peers. The volume contains thirteen papers, addressing a
variety of topical issues, clustered around four themes.
The first cluster of three articles concerns one of the central questions in contemporary social
sciences, in particular the use and meaning of violence.
Flemish youngsters and right-wing extremist groups. Status quaestionis
Maarten De Waele (Ghent University)
Framed within emotionally loaded history, contemporary right-wing extremism still has to contend
with its association with the cruelty of the Nazistic regime. The attack by Anders Behring Breivik was
yet another confirmation of that previously created image. Through the years Flemish right-wing
parties on the edge of the political spectrum had to compete against these assaults. Within this
contribution Maarten De Waele focusses on three categories of Flemish right-wing extremist groups,
namely political parties, social movements and social and cultural groups (networks). He explains
their presence in society and the relationship to violence. This contribution investigates also which
(social) psychological characteristics are related to members of right-wing extremist groups.
Researching men’s violence: an integrated approach to dangerous subjectivities
Anthony Ellis (University of Sheffield)
This article provides an in-depth ethnographic account of men who have used violence against other
men. Much existing work within criminology and sociology that focuses on violence is fragmented
into specific theoretical sub-fields, at the expense of theoretically integrated approaches that can
account for both violent subjectivities and the wider socio-economic and historical contexts in which
they are situated. The core aim of this article is to advance an integrated approach to understanding
men and violence by drawing upon emerging contemporary theoretical frameworks infused with
sociological and psychological theory. In utilising these more recent theoretical contributions the
article elaborates upon violent male subjectivity, whose motives and emotions have often tended to
be obfuscated in many analyses. Using original data framed within this contemporary theoretical
context, this article attempts to uncover and interpret some of the complex psychosocial dynamics
that underpin the lives and motives of violent men.
Framing fear: from war to civilisation and back
Ben Ellis (University of Leeds)
This paper introduces a single case study from a former British Royal Marine and his struggle to adapt
from experiences of extreme fear and danger within war to life as a civilian. The main focus of this
case study is to explore his experiences of being feared - of being an object of fear. The case study
describes his interpretation of the extreme situations in which he had been placed, the ways his own
violent acts are internally justified or not and, the self-confessed on/off switch for interpersonal
violence in post-military life. To make sense of this a conceptual framework, inspired by the work of
Erving Goffman, has been developed which allows a connection to be built between the individual
situations experienced and how they are related to, given meaning and, given structure in ongoing
A second cluster of four articles addresses policing the informal economy and tackling social
The supply of doping products: a neglected phenomenon - the case of cycling
Bertrand Fincoeur (Catholic University of Louvain)
This article is intended to draw criminologists’ attention to a semi-illegal market criminology has so
far largely neglected: the market for doping substances or methods. Although this market involves
more users than the market for some illegal drugs, the topic of doping has been mostly regarded as a
problem of the sports world, particularly of its highlight-making but small elite segment and, as such,
it has been neglected by criminologists. Specifically, whereas scholars from other disciplines,
primarily biomedical and sport sciences, have conducted numerous studies on doping use, few
studies have addressed the supply of doping products. In this article, we establish the baseline for
possible studies by other criminologists on this topic. We also give some first results of an ongoing
research on cycling.
Rural door supervision
Alistair Wilson (University of Sheffield)
This paper provides a unique insight into door supervision in a small rural English town ‘Brassville’,
and is based on direct observation of door supervisors. It outlines both the monotony of work and
the potential severity of incidents, in terms of violence faced by door supervisors in a rural night-time
economy, discussing the role of professional and capable guardianship as a form of crime prevention.
Police decision making and the drunk: exploring Penalty Notices for Disorder
Sara Grace (University of Sheffield)
Binge drinking accounts for half of all alcohol consumed in Britain, however, whilst there is much
research about the policing of the night-time economy, there is little that considers the specific role
of the police in dealing with alcohol-related disorder. This paper explores officers’ decisions to
intervene and/or take formal action when faced with offending in the night-time economy, focusing
particularly on the use (and non-use) of penalty notices for disorder (PNDs) (police-issued fines).
Drawing on fieldwork undertaken in one English city, this chapter presents the findings of a
quantitative analysis of PND tickets, street-level police observations and a qualitative review of PND
tickets. This paper provides an insight into the realities of policing alcohol-related offending and
considers the influence of offence severity, offender intoxication and offender demeanour in police
decision making, exploring how these factors interact with officers’ need to maintain control when
policing the night-time economy.
The use of restorative justice in England and Wales: preliminary findings
Laura Parker (University of Sheffield)
This piece discusses the use of Restorative Justice by the police in England and Wales. The
foundations and theory of Restorative Justice are considered in relation to Restorative Policing and
its intended application relative to police facilitated restorative processes. The research methodology
is described and the subsequent findings discussed before considering that the use of the Restorative
Disposal and Restorative Policing may not be truly restorative, yet useful and important in the
context of policing none the less. It poses questions which are yet to be answered through empirical
research, and presents findings which are important as the first step toward understanding the police
use of Restorative Justice within England and Wales.
A third cluster of four articles addresses methodological issues in research on crime.
Emotional and insecurity reactions to different urban contexts
Inês Sousa Guedes & Carla Cardoso & Cândido da Agra (University of Porto)
Since the sixties fear of crime has emerged as a significant topic. In fact, fear of crime fractures the
sense of community, triggers harmful psychological effects and creates a need to change people’s
habits in their daily life. However, considering fear of crime as only a series of negative emotions
overlooks the possibility that the emotional responses to risk include an emotion that motivates
instead of damaging. In this sense scholars distinguish dysfunctional fear and functional fear of crime.
According to them, worry about crime does not always erode the quality of crime due to the
precautions people take to feel safer. Like crime itself, fear of crime also does not have uniform
distribution over space and time. At a micro level, the study of the relationship between fear and
space may be important to understand what are the environmental cues that trigger feelings of
insecurity. The present study contributes to the exploration of the relationship between emotional
reactions (including fear of crime) and environmental space. More concretely, using an experimental
methodology in a laboratory context, it will try to answer the following research questions: do
pictures representing urban contexts at night trigger more fear of crime than pictures representing
the same urban contexts in daylight?
Assessing the vulnerability of targets for burglary. Creating a multi-level observational instrument
Marlijn Peeters (Ghent University)
Many empirical studies on burglary focus on environmental characteristics, more specifically on non-
observable factors like residential mobility and income. However, since burglars cannot observe
these characteristics, why would they use them in the target selection process? Environmental
research mostly looks at the macro level, the neighbourhood, or the micro level, the house. The
meso level, the street, has been researched less often. A gap in previous research lies in the
combination of multiple levels. The interaction effect between the neighbourhood, the street and
the house have hardly been researched, while all these levels are taken into account when a burglar
selects a target. This paper addresses the construction and pilot test of an observational instrument
at neighbourhood, street and house level for the observation of stable environmental factors. The
instrument presented in this paper can be used in further research to examine the influence of
environmental characteristics on target selection by burglars.
“Intransparency”, deviance and crime in science. Steps for a comprehensive analysis
Rita Faria (University of Porto)
This paper explores an uncommon topic of research in Criminology: “intransparent” deviant and
criminal behavior committed by scientific researchers and higher education teachers in the course of
their occupation. Relevant literature is extensively reviewed and the features of different deviant
behaviors and social control in science are presented, along with some data from previous studies.
Not only falsification and fabrication of data or plagiarism have been found, but also some insight on
disapproved of practices by authors, conflicts of interest, intimate relationships with political and
economic power and other grey areas (e.g. jury tampering) is provided. A project for a multilevel
approach is presented, indicating the need to look at deviant individual behavior (micro-level) in
relationship with the organizational environment of universities (meso-level) and the European
normative framework governing it (macro-level).
Distance matters: a look at crime trip distances in Flanders
Christophe Vandeviver (Ghent University)
Most journey-to-crime studies are flawed in two ways: they predominantly rely on local police data;
and long trips are deliberately removed from the analysis, although a number of studies hint at the
presence of substantially longer crime trips than are commonly reported. Consequently, current
journey-to-crime studies limit the scope of their conclusions to local offending, and their empirical
design is biased towards studying short trips. This paper demonstrates the need for dedicated
criminological research into long crime trips, and provides a preliminary insight into journey-to-crime
distances in the greater Ghent area, Belgium. It analyses five-year public prosecutor data on property
crimes to assess the length of the journey to crime and the number of long crime trips. The study
found a substantial number of long crime trips, with 35% over 10 km. The criminological implications
for future journey-to-crime research are discussed.
A fourth cluster of two articles deals with prisons.
Member State differences in prison disciplinary regimes and implications for European Union
Vincent Eechaudt (Ghent University)
The European Union has consistently promoted judicial cooperation between Member States, with
the result that prisoners can now easily be transferred between them. Despite this, research and
practice has shown that prison conditions differ significantly between Member States, and there is
considerable discrepancy in their compliance with European and international standards. Significant
variation between countries is also found in prison disciplinary regimes, even though they are
required to act in accordance with fundamental human rights such as the principle of legality, the
right to a fair trial and the prohibition of inhuman or degrading punishment. The judicial cooperation
being fostered by the EU is inherently based on mutual trust and the presumption that equivalent
standards are mutually respected. However, this is not the case in practice, and the EU may need to
begin to measure compliance using supranational standards to maintain levels of trust. This paper
argues that standards relating to prison disciplinary regimes should be reviewed to determine
whether existing differences between Member States could undermine the high level of mutual trust
currently existing. Judicial cooperation should be of benefit to all parties – prison disciplinary regimes
that conform to international standards ensure that Member States cooperate efficiently and protect
detainees from arbitrary or unlawful actions – so it is vital that it is correctly managed and
Participation to prison programmes: encouraging and discouraging factors
Dorien Brosens (Free University Brussels)
This study aims at providing a literature review of the motives and barriers of prison inmates to
participate in education, vocational training, sports, wellbeing and health, and cultural activities.
While the majority of studies concerning prison activities focuses on positive outcomes like
contribution to self-worth, better health and the reduction of recidivism, the purpose of this study is
to investigate the motivators why prisoners participate in prison programmes, as well as the related
barriers. Therefore, this paper draws on a systematic literature review and qualitative content
analysis. In total 22 studies were retrieved and analysed. The motives and barriers are situated in an
ecological framework, categorizing them on micro-, meso-, exo-, and macro-levels. Results indicate
that research focusing on the participation of prisoners is rather scarce, especially in relation to
determinants on the meso- and macro-level. In conclusion, substantial attention is paid to outlining
possible implications and guidelines for future research.
The editors of this volume and the authors of the papers thank profoundly PhD student Jannie Noppe
at Ghent University for the efforts invested in the Summer School and this volume. Without her, this
book would not have been possible.
May 2013, The editorial board:
Adam Crawford, Jacques de Maillard, Joanna Shapland, Antoinette Verhage, Paul Ponsaers.