A handy reference if you need to check into criminal backgrounds

Criminology. First Edition

May 26, 2006

In the foreword, Jock Young commences with a description of Rikers Island in New York - a penal establishment that houses 15,000 inmates - on the fringes of public consciousness yet only 12.5km from Manhattan and 100m from La Guardia International Airport. Ninety per cent of the inmates are black or Latino, nearly all are male and 75 per cent return within one year of release, yet it costs more than $800 million (£430 million) a year to run. The focus on Rikers Island is used to accentuate many of the issues, debates and paradoxes inherent in the study of crime and criminal justice, and it is these (and many others) that are the subject of this text.

The book is broken down into four parts: introducing crime and criminology, forms of crime, social dimensions of crime and, finally, responses to crime. The editors bring together an excellent group of contributions, making this a fascinating read. One of the real benefits is the scope of material covered, which includes areas often neglected by criminology textbooks such as older offenders, terrorism, and crime and culture.

As with any multi-authored book, there is some variation in writing styles and material covered. This is partly a result of the range of material presented.

The primary audience for this book is undergraduates studying on courses of criminology or "applied criminology". However, given its scope and the inclusion of study questions, further reading and web links, lecturers will inevitably find this a useful core textbook. The text is also supported by a companion website that contains a range of materials and is divided into lecturer resources (including PowerPoint slides, lecturers' guide, case studies, test bank) and student resources (including multiple-choice questions, web links, updates, further reading). Some of my colleagues, however, have reported difficulties accessing the password-protected lecturer resources section.

At almost 600 pages, this is a sizeable text, and it covers some areas of criminology. The text spans historical and theoretical criminology as well as exploring different forms of crime, crime victimisation, and finally responses to crime such as surveillance, policing and imprisonment.

As noted, in many respects this is the major strength of this book. In other ways, however, it limits the text, as it results in authors providing snapshots to the topics they deal with.

However, the accessibility, concision and clarity of this comprehensive text more than compensate for its limitations. It is ideal for first-year students or to whet the appetite of those intrigued by criminology.

Mark Simpson is subject group leader of criminology, sociology and youth studies, Teesside University.

Criminology. First Edition

Editor - Chris Hale, Keith Hayward, Azrini Wahidin and Emma Wincup
Publisher - Oxford University Press
Pages - 594
Price - £25.99
ISBN - 0 19 9036 8

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