Version-of-record in the Journal of Law and Society
The author was as a social scientific research officer at the Home Office for England and Wales (a Department of State of the United Kingdom) for a period spanning the 1980s. As with much else in Britain, the decade marked a watershed in the politics of crime control. This paper traces the role of criminological research, developed and articulated by governmental social scientists, in the evolution of penal policy around the (then) innovative idea of engaging the community in the prevention of crime. Its central theme is that although the raison d’être for crime prevention policy and practice, then as now, can be found in a concern about the deficiencies of the statutory Police in addressing crime, shifting the locus of social control towards the institutions of civil society was, and remains, a contested project.