Justice, Law and Human Rights

There is no uniform adoption and application of an international set of rules upholding what is ‘right’ to protect society’s most vulnerable.

Disparities exist within and between countries; killings and enforced disappearances of human rights defenders, journalists and trade unionists persist despite international scrutiny and condemnation; unsecured rights for ethnic minorities, marginalised peoples, the young and the differently-abled all illustrate that there is little room for complacency within the arenas of law and justice.

Addressing the UN Sustainable Development Goal 10: Reduced Inequalities and Goal 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions, our publishing in this area examines how the law is responding, or failing to respond, to these issues in a global context.

Bristol University Press and Policy Press are signed up to the UN SDG Publishers Compact. In Justice, law and human rights, we aim to address the following goals: 

Justice, Law and Human Rights

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Using unpublished email interviews collected for a Home Office project on the sex industry, this anthology presents the individual stories of sex workers and buyers in England and Wales, in their own words. The author Natasha Mulvihill also re-interviews the participants to reflect on their original interview, their experience of engaging in research and of managing through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Of interest to policy-makers and students of Criminology, Sociology, Social Policy, Law and Qualitative Methods, the text seeks to navigate through the difficult politics of the sex industry and re-focus our understanding on the lived experiences of those involved.

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Author: Mo Stewart

As the world is preoccupied by the pandemic, and the British public are beginning to comprehend the full impact of Brexit, the predictable public mental health crisis created by the demolition of the UK social safety net has been disregarded by successive administrations. Few people realised that preventable harm was the inevitable creation of social policy reforms, gradually adopted by every administration since Thatcher, en route to her political ambition which was the demolition of the welfare state to be replaced by private health insurance. In order to demolish the welfare state, it was first necessary to remove the past psychological security provided by the welfare state. This has been achieved, with disability denial created by significant social policy reforms since 2008. To justify the adoption of harsh and unnecessary austerity measures, which were introduced without ethical approval, the Coalition administration elected in 2010 vehemently challenged the integrity of the chronically ill and disabled community and routinely accused disability benefit claimants of fraud; while failing to produce evidence to support their claims. Their often hostile rhetoric encouraged a 213 percent increase in prosecuted disability hate crimes, and successive administrations disregarded the thousands of deaths directly linked to the Work Capability Assessment, which was adopted using a discredited and dangerous biopsychosocial model of assessment to restrict access to long-term disability benefit. Influenced by corporate America since 1992, the UK social policy reforms guaranteed that many of those in greatest need were destined to die when, covertly, killed by the State.

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The Contemporary Inquest in Context

When a death is investigated by a coroner, what is the place of the family in that process?

This accessibly written book draws together empirical, theoretical and historical perspectives to develop a rich, nuanced analysis of the contemporary inquest system in England and Wales. It investigates theories of kinship drawn from socio-legal research and analyses law, accountability and the legal process.

Excerpts of conversations with coroners and officers offer real insights into how the role of family can be understood and who family is perceived to be, and further, how their participation fundamentally shapes the investigation into a death.

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In this paper I argue that the new coronavirus pandemic has brought to light some of the contradictions and paradoxes of our time, namely the contrast between human fragility and the technological hubris linked to the fourth industrial revolution (artificial intelligence); and the contrast between the TINA ideology (there is no alternative) and the sudden and extreme changes in our everyday life caused by the virus, thus suggesting that there are indeed alternatives. I then analyse the main metaphors that have been used in public discourse concerning our relations with the virus: the virus as an enemy; the virus as a messenger; the virus as pedagogue. I prefer the last one and explain why, and in what sense the virus is our contemporary.

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Unraveling the Impact of Neoliberal Economic Policy

Factors such as inequality, gender, globalization, corruption, and instability clearly matter in human trafficking. But does corruption work the same way in Cambodia as it does in Bolivia? Does instability need to be present alongside inequality to lead to human trafficking? How do issues of migration connect?

Using migration, feminist, and criminological theory, this book asks how global economic policies contribute to the conditions which both drive migration and allow human trafficking to flourish, with specific focus on Cambodia, Bolivia, and The Gambia.

Challenging existing thinking, the book concludes with an anti-trafficking framework which addresses the root causes of human trafficking.

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The state of Victoria experienced the most far-reaching of Australia’s COVID-19 control strategies in 2020. While an initial lockdown resulted in a temporary abatement of reported infections, this was followed by an extensive resurgence of cases resulting in a 112-day lockdown from the end of winter through most of spring 2020. The ongoing social and economic costs of these measures are yet to be determined. However, our contribution proposes that the links between Foucauldian biopolitics and the Deleuzian society of control offer important insights into the impacts of the Victorian lockdowns on routine police work. Specifically, we argue that the evolution of pandemic policing, within a framework seeking to promote biopolitical control of Victoria’s population, unduly extended police powers and perpetuated many preexisting forms of bias and social injustice, which ultimately compromised public health.

In building on the work of , we document the theoretical relationships between biopolitics, control and the broad idea of pandemic policing. We suggest emerging forms of preemptive control are inextricably tied to a pre-crime securitisation logic that sought to curtail the spread of COVID-19 throughout both urban and regional communities in Victoria. We frame our discussion in light of the Victorian Ombudsman’s inquiry into Operation Benessere, which involved a sudden, hard lockdown in nine high-rise public housing estates in North-West Melbourne. Our analysis of this inquiry highlights the controversies of emergency pandemic enforcement and their implications for police organisational accountability. This case study reveals that biopolitical notions of control strengthened formal police powers under a state of emergency that targeted the urban poor, while immunising police from conventional forms of public accountability. We argue that these forms of biopolitical control associated with pandemic policing are characterised by the same sorts of selectivity, bias, and lack of formal accountability evident in many recent Victorian policing initiatives.

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Author: Vincenzo Scalia

This paper describes and analyses the reponse to the COVID-19 pandemic in Italy, tracing its roots in the hyper-neoliberalism of the right and the repressive attitude of the Italian left, developed since the 1970s. It explores the emergency measures enacted against the backdrop of the pandemic and examines how the neoliberal hegemony of the last 40 years has infiltrated common sense to such an extent that even critical thinkers take for granted the role of the state in regulating social relations on behalf of a fully-fledged market economy. This passive acceptance of the ‘state-market match’, the article suggests, not only accepts the restriction of liberties and the extreme privatisation of life, but also provokes the withering of a critical thinking that could promote alternative policies, as well as outlining long-term prospects of political and social change.

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Author: Paul R. Betts

This paper examines the rise of Evidence-Based Policing (EBP) in Britain. EBP is a ‘what works’ initiative, claiming to offer benefits to ‘improve’ policing policy and practice based on scientific research graded as ‘evidence’. EBP valorises a narrow ‘experimental criminological’ understanding of knowledge and is being institutionalised into policing and academia with very limited challenge. This is despite concerns about ‘evidence-based policy’ in other fields and wide-ranging criminological perspectives on ‘crime’, ‘justice’ and policing that challenge the ‘experimental’ school. By 2022 EBP exerts significant influence on how policing insiders, academics, policymakers and politicians think, speak and act about British policing.

Drawing on Foucault and Hajer, this paper reports institutional changes produced by EBP’s advancement revealed through discourse analytical research into EBP’s ‘archive’ of academic, operational and political ‘texts’. These changes are represented as new ‘governance techniques’ that collectively guard the boundaries of the EBP project, ‘authorising’ the knowledge it generates as ‘true’, propelling EBP towards a hegemonic position in British policing.

EBP is repositioned as doing political work, sharing genealogical heritage with other political projects of late modernity, particularly managerialism and neoliberalism. Appropriately historicised, EBP can also be conceptualised as a new nadir in the problematic relationship between the production of criminological knowledge and the British state: reinforcing state definitions of ‘crime’ and cementing conservative ‘asks’ of policing. Simultaneously, the institutionalisation of EBP’s governance techniques is likely to further silence critical voices, excluding them from knowledge production, policy consideration, and neutralising their more radical calls for progressive policing.

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