Icarus and Goliath: mixed metaphors, Mardi Gras 2013 and the politics of representation

Justin Ellis1
1Sydney Institute of Criminology. Sydney Law School. University of Sydney NSW

Visual representations of police-public encounters are often reduced to a minimum number of parts, with individual motivation seen as the origin of action. This decontexualisation creates space for metaphorical interpretation of complex power relations that rarely fit neatly. Media reports of public order policing are particularly susceptible to such simplification. Using competing mainstream and social media images, this paper examines the visual representation of the police excessive force at the 2013 Mardi Gras parade for metaphorical analogies and what they reveal about police-public relations. It considers the extent to which the symbolism in these mixed metaphors reflects the tension between the Mardi Gras as a protest-turned-celebration within a broader history of paternalistic policing. Scrutinising these differing interpretations provides insight into the power dynamic between authority and resistance and the role the media can play in shaping public discourse on legitimate use of force.


Justin Ellis lectures in Criminology at the UTS law school. His research examines the impact of digital technologies on negotiations of legitimacy. Previously he was a legal affairs journalist in Sydney and spent close to a decade living in Japan where he reported on gay, lesbian and transgender rights for Asia region publications. @justRellis

Constructing Cops: Cultural Forces and Policing Practices

Alyce McGovern1, Murray Lee2
1School of Social Sciences. Centre for Crime, Law and Justice. UNSW Sydney, 2Sydney Institute of Criminology. Sydney Law School. University of Sydney NSW

Popular forms of media are replete with content that depicts crime, law and order, and in particular, the police and policing (Reiner 2010). Fictional and ‘reality’ television programming, true crime podcasts, nightly news broadcasts, and social media platforms – just to name a few media types – provide the public with an array of ‘police stories’. Moreover, images and representations of police and policing through these popular forms of media feed in to, reinforce and create particular cultural constructions of police and the work that they do. As we have argued elsewhere, police organisations themselves are increasingly playing a key role in the creation and dissemination of these constructs of policing too, actively presenting ‘preferred’ police images not only to external audiences – the public, the political sphere and the external media – but also to their internal audience, operational police (Lee and McGovern 2014). This paper explores the recursive nature of these representational processes suggesting that police cultures and practices now need to be understood as embedded in an increasingly image saturated mediatised context.


Dr Alyce McGovern is an Associate Professor in Criminology and Deputy Head of School (Learning & Teaching) in the School of Social Sciences at UNSW Sydney. She has researched widely in the area of crime and media, including police-media relations, police use of social media, young people and sexting, and craftivism. She is the co-author of Policing and Media: Public Relations, Simulations and Communications (2013 with Lee, Routledge), Sexting and Young People (2015 with Crofts, Lee and Milivojevic, Palgrave) and guest edited the Current Issues in Criminal Justice journal’s Special Issue on Crime, Media and New Technologies.

Body Worn Images: The New Aesthetics of Policing

Carolyn McKay1, Murray Lee1
Sydney Institute of Criminology. Sydney Law School. University of Sydney NSW

This paper adopts a visual criminological approach to examining the images generated by police body-worn (BWC) camera. While there is growing scholarship regarding the use of the technology in crime prevention and detection, as well as its evidential efficacy, transparency, behavioural impacts on both police and citizens, and surveillance/privacy/civil rights concerns (Gannoni, Willis, Taylor and Lee 2017; Lee and McGovern 2014), and some work on viewer perspective (yu and Bogin 2017), there is little academic engagement with what this form of technology actually produces aesthetically, other than to comment on its often poor and grainy image. Here we treat BWC as image making devices linked to techniques and technologies of power, which construct and frame police encounters.  These encounters become coded in specific ways, and we suggest that the aesthetics of the image contribute greatly to the truth-value their images acquire. We adopt a forensic aesthetic approach, informed by a visual arts context, to analyse the images made by these new vision machines (McKay 2018).


Dr Carolyn McKay is a Lecturer in Law at the University of Sydney Law School where she teaches Criminal Law and Civil & Criminal Procedure. Carolyn is Deputy Director of the Sydney Institute of Criminology and a member of the Sydney Law School Social Justice Committee. She is recognised for her empirical research into prisoners’ experiences of accessing justice from a custodial situation. Her qualitative study based on one-to-one interviews with prisoners provided evidence for her recently published research monograph, The Pixelated Prisoner: Prison video links, court ‘appearance’ and the justice matrix. She is also a visual artist and curator.


Technologically-Facilitated Violence Against Women and Girls: Can Canadian Criminal Law Respond?

Prof Jane Bailey1, Carissima Mathen
1University Of Ottawa Faculty Of Law

Technologically-facilitated violence against women (TFVAW) can take many forms, from school teachers secretly recording female students’ breasts with pen cams (R v. Jarvis) to vindictive ex-partners distributing intimate images of their former wives and girlfriends without consent to relentless stalking that sometimes involves threats of physical and sexual violence, and distribution of personal information exposing women to attacks by strangers (West Coast LEAF, 2015) to malicious use of home security and key stroke devices to surveil women in their own homes (Southworth, 2005).   The Canadian Criminal Code includes offences that appear to apply to many forms of TFVAW, including provisions related to hate propagation, criminal harassment, non-consensual disclosure of intimate images, uttering threats, intimidation, defamatory libel, identity fraud, extortion and unauthorized use of a computer (Bailey, 2016).  However, inadequate police responses, failures to prosecute and acquittals in cases such as Jarvis have led to questions about whether criminal law can adequately respond (Mathen & Bailey, 2016).

Framed within the context of prior feminist discourse around whether law is an effective tool for addressing VAW (in whatever form), this presentation analyses current stumbling blocks to effective use of criminal legal responses; and probes deeper into the underlying question of the kind of harms to which we are seeking responses and whether criminal law is an appropriate vehicle for addressing those harms.


Jane Bailey is a Full Professor of Law at the University of Ottawa where she co-leads The eQuality Project, a 7-year SSHRC funded partnership focused on the impact of online commercial profiling on youths’ identities and social relationships.  Jane leads the Project stream focused on cyberviolence and vulnerable youth.  Among her proudest professional achievements are co-leading The eGirls Project, creating and teaching a law course called Cyberfeminism and, appearing before the Supreme Court of Canada in the Jarvis voyeurism case. In fall 2018 she will be a Visiting Professor at Hong Kong University and at RMIT in Australia.

Image-Based Sexual Abuse: Victim Experiences

Dr Nicola Henry2
2RMIT, Melbourne, Australia,

Digital technologies are increasingly being used as tools of abuse, harassment, and violence. One manifestation of this growing trend is image-based sexual abuse (IBSA), also known as ‘revenge pornography.’ IBSA refers to the non-consensual creation, distribution and/or threats of distribution, of nude or sexual images. Although quantitative studies have begun to investigate the prevalence of IBSA, suggesting that somewhere between 1 and 12 per cent of people have experienced at least one form of IBSA, very few studies have empirically examined the experiences of victim/survivors. Drawing on 50 in-depth interviews with Australian and New Zealand victim/survivors, this paper examines their lived experiences, as well as the impacts of IBSA and the barriers to seeking support. The study found that participants commonly experienced significant emotional and psychological impacts (often as the result of multiple forms of abuse), including anxiety and depression, as well as fears regarding the continued circulation of images and implications of IBSA for their futures. Self-blame was also a common emotional response, as were feelings of helplessness and disappointment, particularly around the lack of consequences for perpetrators. The paper considers the diversity of different acts and impacts of IBSA, the complexity of polyvictimization, as well as the types of prevention and response interventions that are needed to support victims of IBSA.


Dr Nicola Henry is Associate Professor and Vice-Chancellor’s Principal Research Fellow in the Social and Global Studies Centre at RMIT University. Her research investigates the prevalence, nature and impacts of gendered violence, including the legal and non-legal responses to these harms. Her current research is focused on technology-facilitated sexual violence, and image-based sexual abuse.

Can anonymous online reporting of sexual assault improve justice outcomes?

Georgina Heydon2,Rachel Loney-Howes
2RMIT, Melbourne, Australia

It is well established in the literature that rape and sexual assault are the most underreported crimes world-wide, with an estimated 80-90% of sexual assaults going unreported annually (Daly and Bouhours 2010; ABS 2012; Johnson 2012; Rotenberg 2017). The challenges associated with encouraging survivors to formally report rape and sexual assault to the police include poor police interview practices, as well as problematic police attitudes influenced by rape culture that can undermine, belittle or fail to take seriously individuals who report experiences of sexual assault (Campbell 2006; Rich 2014). In response to these shortcomings within the criminal justice system, we have seen innovations in the online collection of anonymous and confidential reports such as Sexual Assault Reporting Anonymously (or SARA) developed by South Eastern Centre Against Sexual Assault (hereafter SECASA) in Victoria, Australia. While users are reporting to a rape crisis service, they know that their information will be passed on to police for intelligence purposes and crime mapping, with the option of making a formal report. This paper offers an analysis of the SARA website data to assist researchers and sector stakeholders to understand what kind of information is being shared with SARA, how SARA is being used and the key features of reports. The research utilises 483 de-identified reports to SARA from March 4th 2013, when the application was first launched, to August 26th 2016. This paper presents the key findings of that analysis, including a statistical snapshot of the reports and the broad trends in user behaviour.


Associate Professor Georgina Heydon (Gendered Violence and Abuse Research Alliance, RMIT University, Australia) is an internationally recognised expert in the field of forensic linguistics and investigative interviewing, and has published numerous academic papers and a book, ‘The Language of Police Interviewing’, on the topic of interviewing and information gathering.  Over the last four years, she has been collaborating with colleagues in gendered violence and digital criminology to examine reporting and information gathering in sexual assault and family violence cases.

The Challenges of Policing Image-Based Sexual Abuse

Dr Asher Flynn3
3Monash University, Melbourne, Australia

Abstract:  Image-based sexual abuse (IBSA) refers to the non-consensual recording, distribution, or threat of distribution, of nude or sexual images. In the last few years, numerous jurisdictions have amended their criminal laws to respond more effectively to this growing phenomenon, yet increased criminalisation has not automatically translated into increased prosecutions. This paper examines the challenges faced by law enforcement in responding to IBSA drawing on stakeholder interviews with 49 legal and policy experts, domestic and sexual violence advocates, industry representatives, police and academics across Australia. In reflecting on the voices of these stakeholders, this paper argues that although there is evidence to suggest IBSA is being treated more seriously by law enforcement, there are key barriers to responding to this problem, including: a patchwork of inconsistent laws; limited resources; evidentiary limitations; jurisdictional restrictions; and victim-blaming attitudes. Recent research similarly reveals such problems are not exclusive to Australia, and are being felt in other locations where IBSA laws exist including England and Wales and Scotland (see Bond & Tyrrell forthcoming; see also Green 2018). Suggestions are made for how to respond to these challenges to facilitate more effective policing of IBSA.


Dr Asher Flynn is a Senior Lecturer in Criminology and Director of the Social and Political Sciences Graduate Research Program at Monash University, Australia. Asher’s research utilises a socio-legal framework to understand, critique and transform legal policy and practice, with a particular focus on gendered violence. Asher is Co-Investigator on an Australian Research Council Discovery Project examining image-based sexual abuse across Australia, the United Kingdom and New Zealand (with Associate Professors Nicola Henry and Anastasia Powell, and Professors Clare McGlynn, Erika Rackley and Nicola Gavey). She has published widely on sexual violence, technology-facilitated abuse, access to justice and plea negotiations.

Typologies of online CEM offenders – looking back, looking forward

A/Prof. Tony Krone1
1University Of Canberra, Fraser, Australia

This paper reviews the development of typologies of online CEM offenders drawing together perspectives from criminology, psychology and law. It questions their utility and applicability given changes in the online environment and the ways in which people interact online. Possible future directions in research and ways of enhancing online typologies will be canvassed.


Tony Krone works in the areas of crime and criminology at the University of Canberra with a special emphasis on cybercrime and the problem of online child sexual exploitation

Dissuading internet users from viewing adult-minor sex images: the results of a randomized controlled experiment

A/Prof. Jeremy Prichard1, Dr Caroline Spiranovic1, Prof  Paul Watters2, Prof Richard Wortley3, A/Prof Tony Krone4
1Law Faculty, University Of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia, 2La Trobe University , Melbourne, Australia, 3University College London , London, UK, 4University of Canberra, Canberra, Australia

The task of tackling the market in child exploitation material (CEM) is almost entirely undertaken by law enforcement agencies (LEA). Automated online warning messages are recognised as one cost effective primary prevention method to reduce the numbers of new CEM users. But their use remains in abeyance because no clear evidence base has existed as to the effect of automated messages on users.

This presentation discusses the results of an online double-blind randomised controlled experiment. The study established a real-life male-oriented website and used commercial strategies to draw web traffic. Users who clicked on a fake advertisement for ‘barely legal porn’ (BLP) were randomly allocated to: a control group (who did not receive an automated message); or one of four experimental groups (who received messages relating to law enforcement or harm). Users’ behaviour was monitored to assess whether they attempted to access the BLP. (BLP was used as a proxy for CEM because attempting to access a fake advert for CEM could constitute an offence.)

The results showed those who received a law enforcement message were less likely than the control group to attempt to access the BLP.

The presentation will discuss what the effect of the messages might look like in a real-life scenario involving actual CEM. The implications of the findings will be considered for a variety of non-LEA agencies that could employ automated messages at the local, national and international level.


A/Prof Jeremy Prichard teaches Criminal Law as well as Sex Crimes and Criminals. He works in two interdisciplinary teams – one on child exploitation material and the other on illicit drug markets. Both teams explore novel ways to conduct empirical research to inform policy and practice.

Caroline Spiranovic is a Senior Research Fellow at the Faculty of Law, University of Tasmania and an Honorary Research Fellow, School of Population Health, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, University of Western Australia. Caroline works predominantly in multi-disciplinary teams on criminology research projects focusing on public opinion, crime prevention and sex offending.

Media reporting of homicide in the digital age

Miss Laura Wajnryb McDonald1
1The University Of Sydney, , Australia

The digital age has transformed the way the media report on crime with visual instantaneous stories published and shared across multiple platforms. While this may enhance public engagement, there can be consequences that affect victims and their families. This paper presents initial findings from a study that examines media reporting of homicide victims in the digital age. The research aims to understand contemporary journalistic practices, the way people bereaved through homicide manage and negotiate media attention, and the services that are available to assist them. Interviews have so far been conducted with crime journalists, people bereaved through homicide and support workers. This presentation will outline some of the emerging themes from this empirical data such as the media imperatives of a demanding and rapidly changing landscape, and the way families and their support workers try to control the way a loved one is represented and remembered in the public sphere.


Laura Wajnryb McDonald is a PhD candidate at the University of Sydney. She has a Bachelor of Socio-Legal Studies with First Class Honours. She has worked primarily as a Research Officer for 5 years at the Justice Research Group at Western Sydney University on a number of ARC funded jury research projects and as a casual academic for 3 years convening and lecturing undergraduate Criminology courses at the University of New South Wales. Her research interests include victimology, crime and media, and cultural and visual criminology.



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