Book review: Marketisation and Privatisation in Criminal Justice

AuthorMatt Tidmarsh
Published date01 March 2021
Date01 March 2021
Subject MatterBook reviews
to Warehousing’ which does not need reprising here. These developments are
pitched against the changing understandings of the notion of citizenship, in a
neoliberal post-welfare state and are enlivened with examples of the pervasive
move of private security into public spaces as well as a reversal of the classic 19th
century doctrine of less eligibility.
The concluding Chapter 6 entitled chillingly ‘Towards a Private State’ outlines in
a incisive and prescient overview the increasing power and dominance of the pri-
vate security industry (in which private operators such as G4S and Serco feature
prominently) within a shrinking state sector. The authors usefully employ the term
‘lock -in’ (p. 149) to delineate ‘the too big to fail’ and seemingly ‘too big to pro-
secute’ approach of the state to outsourced monopoly private providers. This over
dependent relationship will be readily familiar to readers.
It is perhaps instructive that the author’s final pages are devoted to what they
denote, in dystopian terms, as a growing repressive authoritarianism at the per-
iphery directed at sections of the poor and marginalised, probation clients are
included in this description, as the private sector continues to play a significant role
in the implementation of state policies. This is a compelling, highly readable and
important book which challenges the reader to reflect on and consider how the ever-
increasing privatisation of the state now needs to be urgently reversed. It offers a
timely primer for understanding what might lie ahead if we fail to do so.
Marketisation and Privatisation in Criminal Justice
Kevin Albertson, Mary Corcoran and Jake Phillips
Policy Press; 2020, pp. 340; £23.19; pbk
ISBN: 978-1-4473-4581-7
Reviewed by: Matt Tidmarsh, University of Hertfordshire, UK
The encroach of markets on social and economic domains previously considered
‘sacred’ is such that, over the course of a generation, their influence has become
normalised. Criminal justice institutions, their structures, actors, processes, and
modes of accountability, have not been spared from such change. And yet, as
Albertson, Corcoran, and Phillips, editors of this important and timely collection,
remind us, there is no one way to marketise and privatise; rather, attempts to utilise
(quasi-)markets to pursue ‘efficiency’ and ‘innovation’ have resulted in myriad
arrangements that are specific to services, sectors, and jurisdictions. The editors’
accomplishment is an illuminating volume which discusses, from diverse theoretical
and disciplinary perspectives, the consequences of marketisation and privatisation
in criminal justice.
The book is organised into four parts. The first situates marketisation and priva-
tisation within various theoretical frameworks. Corcoran sets the tone in Chapter 1;
Book Review 121

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