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Crime under the spotlight at Victoria

4 February 2005 Public Affairs

Crime under the spotlight at Victoria

From corporate and e-crime to sex crimes, policing and punishment, major issues in criminology will be discussed and debated when leading international criminologists gather at Victoria University of Wellington next week for one of the largest conferences on crime to be held in the Southern Hemisphere.

The Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology Conference will be hosted by Victoria University's Criminology Programme from February 9-11 and will be held at the University's Kelburn Campus.

Programme Director, Professor Philip Stenning, said the conference would mark an important anniversary in the study of criminology in New Zealand.

"This year marks 35 years since former Secretary for Justice, Dr John Robson, was appointed as director of criminological studies and 30 years since the Institute of Criminology was established at Victoria. Since that time the discipline has gone from strength to strength at Victoria and it continues to offer New Zealand's only criminology major. The conference will be an opportunity to look back at the success of the Institute and to outline where the study of criminology is headed, both at Victoria and in the wider world."

Professor Stenning said this year's conference had attracted 300 attendees from throughout the world. More than 200 criminologists and other researchers with an interest in crime and justice would be presenting papers.

"Crime is an issue of key political and community concern that faces the global community today. But while violent and sexual crime have gained a lot of media attention, the conference also addresses corporate and e-crime, the role of drugs, environmental crime, crime prevention and restorative justice. Speakers will also be examining the links between crime and gender, sexuality, race and ethnicity as well as policing, corrections and crimes committed by the State."

The conference will be addressed by three keynote speakers, addressing three major issues: justice and the community, rape and policing.

Professor Barbara Hudson, in her address, Justice and the limits of community, examines the contradiction between criminal justice literature, which places 'the community' at the heart of crime prevention and justice, and social and political theory that points to a breakdown of community. Professor Hudson will particularly raise problems and possibilities of dealing justly with people, such as psychopaths, that do not fall within the boundaries of any community, however defined. Professor Hudson is a Professor of Law at the University of Central Lancashire in Britain.

Professor Liz Kelly, in her address, A gap or a chasm? Perspectives on attrition in reported rape cases, examines why, when the reporting of rape has increased every year for three decades in England and Wales, that the conviction rate has remained relatively static and at 6 percent is at the lowest point ever. It is also a trend evident across Europe. Drawing on the most extensive data on reported rape in Britain, Professor Kelly shows the chasm actually comprises a series of smaller gaps that might be bridged. However, her paper says building such a bridge requires revisiting fundamental issues and questions about core concepts of "rape", "rape victim", and "rapists". Professor Kelly is Director of the Child and Woman Abuse Studies Unit at the London Metropolitan University. Professor Kelly has co-presented at a recent conference with Victoria University Senior Lecturer in Criminology, Dr Jan Jordan, whose recent book Word of a Woman? Police, rape and belief, has questioned the way Police treat rape complainants.

Professor David Bayley, in his paper, Policing in a New Era, outlines changes in policing that will see the State play less of a role in the future. While this fundamental change has been occurring, most people, even those involved in the sector, have not noticed it occur because policies and education are tied to the State's previous monopoly on policing. In his paper, Professor Bayley will examine the internationalisation, devolution and privatisation of criminal justice and the challenges that each poses. Professor Bayley is Dean of the School of Criminal Justice at the State University of New York at Albany.

The conference has been sponsored by the Ministries of Justice and Social Development, the New Zealand Police, the Departments of Corrections and Child, Youth & Family, the Wellington City Council and the New Zealand Police Association.

For more information, visit the conference website at: http://www.vuw.ac.nz/anzsoc/

ENDS

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