Vetting Sexual Offenders: State Over-extension, the Punishment Deficit and the Failure to Manage Risk

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Abstract

This article examines the state regulation of sexual offenders in the particular context of pre-employment vetting. A successive range of statutory frameworks have been put in place, culminating in the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006, to prevent unsuitable individuals from working with the vulnerable, and children in particular. Contemporary legislative and policy developments are set against a backdrop of broader concerns in the area of crime and justice, namely risk regulation, preventative governance and ‘precautionary logic.’ Proponents of these approaches have largely ignored concerns over their feasibility. This article specifically addresses this fissure within the specific field of vetting. It is argued that ‘hyper innovation’ and state over-extension in this area are particularly problematic and have resulted in exceptionally uncertain and unsafe policies. These difficulties relate principally to unrealistic public expectations about the state’s ability to control crime; unintended and ambiguous policy effects; and ultimately the failure of the state to deliver on its self-imposed regulatory mandate to effectively manage risk.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-48
Number of pages24
JournalSocial and Legal Studies
Volume19
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2010

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