Gerben Bruinsma and the ESC board much regret that unexpected medical matters made it impossible for him to write the president’s column for this mid-summer issue of Criminology in Europe or to attend what should have been “his” ESC annual meeting in Porto. The prognosis for Gerben’s recovery, however, is good, thank goodness, and some of the fruits of his efforts will be evident in Porto. These include the fine general program, which he helped shape, and a pair of “presidential panels” showcasing work of promising young European scholars.
We are facing a human catastrophe at the moment. Between 45 and 60 million people worldwide are on the run due to wars and ethnic, religious or political persecution. About 1.5 million refugees are expected in Europe by the end of 2015, most of them trying to escape the wars in Syria, Iraq, Ukraine and other regions where their lives are in danger.
After Porto the ESC goes to the ancient German city of Münster, another exciting place which will hopefully attract criminologists from all over the world. The conference is conceptualized under the theme of “Crime and Crime Control – Structure, Developments, and Actors”, thus covering a wide range of areas/subjects within modern criminology. The organizers, Klaus Boers and his team, succeeded in structuring the plenaries given by leading experts around the three subthemes: Formal Crime Control (Policing and Prisons), Life Course and Developmental Criminology, and Economic and State Crimes.
Prison population rates often are interpreted as an indicator of a more or less punitive crime policy. Although it is clear that assessing punitiveness is more complicated than just comparing prison population rates and possibly considering the flow of entries and length of stay in prisons, Europe in the early 2000s was rather clearly divided in the “good” and the “bad” countries on this basis.
A year ago, when I was a candidate to become President of the ESC, I wrote in this newsletter that one of my current research interests—and one of my concerns as a citizen and as a woman—was the increasing use of civil and administrative ordinances to criminalise statuses, behaviours, and situations in urban spaces. Recent efforts to forbid Muslim women to wear burqinis on European beaches vividly demonstrate the dangers and problems.