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Home > Reviews > Security and Crime: Converging Perspectives on a Complex World

Security and Crime: Converging Perspectives on a Complex World

Author Alison Wakefield

ISBN No 9781412931014

Review date 15/08/2022

No of pages 256

Publisher Sage

Publisher URL

Year of publication 22/06/2021


Our Review


£ 38$, paperback

Prof Alison Wakefield's new book Security and Crime: Converging Perspectives on a Complex World, published in July, not only tells of how far private security has come, well within living memory, but how far she has come, too, Mark Rowe writes:

I recall her 2003 book, that arose from her first criminological research: Selling Security, published by Willan - Brian Willan being an independent publisher of criminological works, now long swallowed up in corporate publishing.

Selling Security was one of the few academic works that took security guards seriously enough to study: to spend time with them and acknowledge they existed, even. And she has stayed with private security as a criminologist since, even though it's far from trendy, in academia where there's pressure to stick with the crowd. Besides as a professional academic, having latterly moved from Portsmouth to the University of West London, she has put in time and effort on the industry's behalf, for example as a chair of the Security Institute.

It's worth pondering quite how much of what she writes about was not around, or even dreamed of, both the bits about the world in general and the work of securing it, in 2003. The resurgence in piracy had yet to come, off the coast of Somalia at least. It's striking how new terms are being invented and becoming part of the lexicon, as concepts to help us understand the world in general and its protection in particular - notably resilience.

Alison (pictured) begins with 'securing the globe' and then regional security - that is, international security, or 'the new world disorder' since the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, and in the sense of 'the West versus the rest', a subject for her talk during IFSEC 2019, which feels a long time ago.

The book is written in the style of a Sage textbook, so that it opens with half a page telling you what you are going to learn, which may grate on some. Also the textbook style of writing requires surnames and dates of academic authors whose ideas are touched on in the sentence to be placed inside brackets. You can have the feeling at times that there's a lot to take in - the key words are in bold text, such as the fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), artificial intelligence, human rights, and cyberspace, and that's only one early page. At the end of a chapter you have 'study questions' and ideas about what more to read, as up to date as 2020, and mentioning how some sorts of crime soared during the pandemic lockdown.

She does right to bring in conceptions of security, early on. Security is at once the physical protection of things, and a feeling (Maslow gets a mention here) of being secure, and something that society needs to function well - whether at sea, so that supply chains are protected from piracy, or online. Chapters then cover securing the nation, communities, the individual, and the internet. Securing corporations, that may be of most interest to reader-practitioners, gets only a 17-page chapter. The comes a chapter on 'securing the seas' (not one on securing the air) and lastly the conclusion, titled 'Building a resilient future'.

As for the further reading she points to about police and private security, I can only partly agree with her recommendations - yes to the books by Prof Martin Button; but Robert Reiner's The Politics of Police 'a classic text and essential reading'? Only if you want to be in with the criminologist crowd; I found Reiner's book by the end a parody of right-on leftie dislike of uniformed authority ungrounded in any real world.

Not a criticism you can ever make of Alison Wakefield, or this book.

Rather than focus on any or all of her chapters, the thing I come away from with Alison's book, its achievement, is that she shows and documents how threats to the internet, to borders and nation states, and crimes against citizens and corporations, are of a piece, and how they are connected. The book, then, is ideal for the student, who has at the same time grown up with the online world and yet to whom the 9-11 attacks are history. Such students are at once immersed in 'smart cities' and 4IR and so on, and have so much to learn. They can learn plenty from this well-written, well laid out and quite reasonably priced book.