Following two years of restrictions, and the establishment of this Working Group in such difficult times, Artur and I have been overwhelmed by the success of the Working Group panels at the recent Malaga conference. Despite only being established in 2020, we hosted four panels, with fifteen presentations and many audience members coming to listen to our speakers. The panels represented the broad and open approach we have taken to all aspects of rural criminology, with papers ranging from female rural arsonists to ghost marriage in rural China. It was an amazing representation for our first in-person conference as a Working Group.
As a result of the Working Group establishment, Artur and I have become involved with the 14th Biennial International Conference on Criminal Justice and Security in Central and Eastern Europe organised by Prof. Gorazd Mesko. I am a plenary speaker, Artur sits on the organising panel, and the Working Group are co-organisers of the conference. This conference takes rural and urban safety and security perspective beyond the European lens and considers how this can be achieved in coordination with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. This is an exciting link that the Working Group is building.
Further future direction for the Working Group include, initially, expanding our membership list across Europe and beyond to coordinate discussion and collaboration with researchers on all things rural crime and security. This will allow us as a community to be best placed to identify and explore emerging trends in rural criminology, such as the increasing role of technology in crime prevention, but also offending, and the changing nature of rural crime in light of global geo-politics. Some of these topics were touched upon during our conference presentations, and so provide opportunity for further development.