Challenging the narrative of broken communities: informal social controls and the 2011 English Riots

Dr Deborah Platts-Fowler1
1Victoria University Of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand

The 2011 English were framed by concerns over moral decline and a lack of self-restraint. Those who participated were associated with a nihilistic ‘gangsta’ culture. The Prime Minister concluded that pockets of society were not just broken, but frankly sick.

The manifestation of looting was touted as evidence by politicians, as well as some criminologists, that the riots were not political. Despite the police shooting of a young black man in suspicious circumstances and the context of recession and austerity, rioters simply went shopping.

This paper presents case study research to challenge this narrative. It highlights that in one of the worst affected cities, there was barely any looting. Violence was targeted against the police as a response to repressive and discriminatory policing in certain parts of the city.

Far from trashing their neighbourhoods, rioters were responsive to community controls, which mitigated violence locally; and, in places where informal social controls were supported by formal controls and integrated into the public order response, violence was averted altogether.

The paper concludes that ‘broken communities’ were not the problem in 2011. Communities were part of the solution where public agencies knew how to support and engage with them.


Deborah is interested in crime and disorder in neighbourhoods, with a focus on relationships within and between communities, and between communities and the state. She has conducted research in urban locations associated with violence, gangs, and ethnic conflict. She is a critical criminologist interested public criminology. In the UK, she has advised  Ministers, the police and a range of other state agencies on issues relating to her research.

A Road Map for the Next Generation of Spatial Criminology Decision Support Systems; leveraging Current Advancements of Spatial Data Infrastructures

Dr Soheil Sabri1, Mr Ged Griffin1, Mr Doug Bowles2, Dr Yiqun Chen1, Professor Abbas Rajabifard1
1The University of Melbourne, Department of Infrastructure Engineering, Centre for Spatial Data Infrastructures and Land Administration and Centre for Disaster Management and Public Safety, PARKVILLE, Australia, 2Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia

The spatio-temporal link of criminal offending has been recognised a key area of research within criminology and this has led to the development of the concept of spatial criminology.  However, despite the large amount of digital data available, the major problem is limited capability for data sources to facilitate reliable and timely crime analysis for decision making. Recent research and development on Spatial Data Infrastructures (SDIs) has addressed this challenge by facilitating multi-sourced and multi-dimensional data access and integration. Yet, there is a lack of research in spatial criminology on how the current SDIs can be leveraged to support more realistic and timely analysis and decision making. This paper aims to develop a conceptual framework as the road map for the next generation of spatial criminology decision support systems. Based on data available at the Australian Urban Research Infrastructure Network (AURIN), crime data custodians, local governments, and Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) a demonstrator has been developed in an Intelligent Decision Support System (IDSS) to support national macro and meso level criminological analysis. The demonstrator accesses and integrates a range of data sets through web services to help researchers develop their own tools and visualise potential offending hotspots and discover underlying drivers of this behaviour.  The paper concludes by proposing the road map for development of next generation spatial criminology decision support systems for more advanced analytical products to establish crime risk and resilience ratings as the features of urban liveability indices.


Soheil Sabri is an Urban Planner and Spatial Scientist. He holds a PhD and Master degree in Urban Planning and worked as a consultant, senior lecturer, and researcher in urban planning and spatial analysis. He is currently a Research Fellow in Urban Analytics in the Centre for SDIs and Land Administration at The University of Melbourne. His research focuses on enabling spatial information and technological innovation in smart urban planning and design to improve urban quality of life. Soheil has recently managed developing an Urban Analytics Data Infrastructure as a new generation of Spatial Data Infrastructures.

Riots, cat killers and regulated vices: collective anxiety and the management of danger in two neighbourhoods in Singapore

Dr Laura  Naegler1  Joe Greener2
1Northumbria University , Newcastle Upon Tyne , United Kingdom, 2University of Liverpool, Singapore

Based on ethnographic research in two neighbourhoods in Singapore, this paper explores how political, media and public debate construct certain communities as ‘high-crime’ and dangerous. This underpins material and concrete interventions by state authorities such as heavy investment in security technologies and on-the-street surveillance. Geylang not only has a high influx of migrant workers but is known as the city’s main area for illegal and vice activity including sex work, illegal gambling and trade in counterfeit pharmaceuticals. Considerable effort by authorities goes into regulating criminal and vice activity in the area. However, there is a strongly performative aspect to this control of Geylang which is aimed at permitting and containing vices, rather than halting them altogether. Yishun is a lower-income neighbourhood with low-crime rates according to national statistics. However, reports on cases of, for example, animal abuse, a (satirical) blog claiming the neighbourhood being ‘cursed’ and several social media memes playing on this image led to a perception of Yishun as a high crime area. Both case studies are expressions of collective anxieties about security, safety, crime and danger in the small island city state. These collective anxieties are driven by the ambivalences of life and politics in Singapore, such as the state’s need to maintain the image of a low-crime crime nation while at the same time making it appear that the threat of crime is ever present, the perception that crime could easily propel into chaos if not contained, and the downplaying of actual existing social problems.


Laura Naegler, PhD, is a lecturer in criminology at Northumbria University. Her research interests are critical and cultural criminology, urban sociology, resistance studies and political theory, with a focus on the study of social movements, social unrest, and “new” forms of democratic participation.


Segregation, inequality and crime: Examining the link across Australian neighbourhoods

Dr Michelle Sydes1, Associate Professor  Rebecca  Wickes2

1University of Queensland , Brisbane, Australia, 2Monash University , Melbourne , Australia

Segregation is argued to weaken social controls and undermine a community’s regulatory capacity through mechanisms associated with social inequality and social isolation. However, empirical support for this relationship is far from conclusive. To date, most segregation-crime studies concentrate on segregation patterns at the city level using indices that ignore the spatiality of segregation. In this paper we employ highly spatialized measures of local residential segregation to unpack the relationship between segregation, inequality and crime across 297 neighbourhoods located in two Australian cities with differing immigration histories and ethnic compositions. Drawing on survey, census and crime data, we additionally consider the role collective efficacy plays in mediating or moderating the association between segregation, inequality and crime.


Michelle Sydes is a Research Fellow at the School of Social Science at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. Her research is primarily interested in examining communities over time with particular focus on how changes in immigration, disadvantage and residential segregation impact neighbourhood crime. Michelle uses innovative statistical techniques to further enhance our knowledge of the temporal and spatial dimensions of communities and crime.

Rebecca Wickes is an Associate Professor at the School of Social Sciences at Monash University where she is the Director of the Monash Migration and Inclusion Centre and the convener of the criminology program. She is also the Chief Investigator of the Australian Community Capacity Study (ACCS), a multi-million, multi-site, longitudinal study of 298 urban neighbourhoods in Victoria and Queensland. Her research focuses on the spatial concentration of social problems with a particular focus on how physical and demographic changes in urban communities influence social cohesion, the informal regulation of crime, crime and victimisation.


Domestic Violence: Albania, as a Post Communist Country in the Balkans

Arbora  Aliaj

Domestic violence, although is one of the most violent widespread human rights in Albania, continues to be less appreciated. Considering multidimensional consequences, in physical, economical, reproductive health, but even in the twisted education in the future generations, on the dominance of fear, bullying, and prepotency, it leads to long term destructive effects for the society. Consequently, has been a widespread difficulty in the perception and understanding among citizens and public officials who currently struggle with their lack of education and in turn resort to the violation of the citizens. The General Prosecutor has in fact registered many cases for a country with the population of 3 million inhabitants, but considering the low level of reporting due to: educational, economic, social reasons, re-victimization, matter which triggered doubts about the real situation. Efforts to explain this phenomenon in a national level, although in their preliminary stages accord this behaviour to factors related to post communism, transition, democracy but also our location as a Balkan country. The research will explore four main areas. Namely, it will shed light upon the definition of domestic violence, the criminology associated with such crimes, the prevalence and tendencies associated with this crime, as well as look into the need to accommodate the needs of the victims of domestic violence and ensure that their rights are not only secure, but that they are also at the foundation of the legislation associated with procedural aspects in this regard.

Arbora Aliaj, hold a B.A. in Law, Faculty of Law, University of Tirana, Albania, and a M.Sc. in Criminal Law, graduated summa cum laude (10/10). This year, I am frequenting the National Chamber of Advocacy and Legal Issues, as an assistant lawyer.

The posts I currently hold include the role of Legal Expert at the Center for Public Information Issues and Representative of YATA Kosovo. In the same time, I am an active member of different

international organizations and projects, such as the AI, OSCE, UNYA, FES, HofA&S etc. Meanwhile, I am in waiting list of new assistant  professors, in the Academy of Security in Albania.

Also I have studied on the matter, different disciplines with scholarships and fellowships as 2016 “Balkan Crime and Criminology”, One- Week Intensive Course, Max Planck Institute for

Foreign and International Criminal Law; “17th Annual Conference of the European Society of Criminology”, EuroCrime 2017, Cardiff, Wales. I have been appointed as Delegate of ELSA

International to the Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (CED), 12th Session, Geneva.  I have been chosen in the students working group for the “Judicial Reform” and for drafting “The right to be forgotten” in Albania.

Some of my publications for different international magazines like YATA Kosovo; Consejo Atlantico Juvenil Espanol, Spain; Journal of the Institute of Criminological and Sociological Research, Belgrade, Serbia. Related with my contribution in human rights and criminal process in Albania, I was one of the panelist in “Dialogue and Best Practice International Forum 2016”, Notre Dame University – Louaize (NDU), Lebanon, and a lot of activities in Albania, when I have achieved prizes and awards as New Political Leader of “Elita Politike”.



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