Book review: Privatising Justice: The Security Industry, War and Crime Control

Published date01 March 2021
AuthorMike Guilfoyle
Date01 March 2021
Subject MatterBook reviews
Girard and Goffman (to name just a few) offer alternative ways to understand peer
mentoring in contemporary criminal justice settings. Through a robust analysis of 44
interviews with peer mentors, mentees, service coordinators and probation officers,
Buck skilfully demonstrates how peer mentoring can support the desistance process,
with a particular focus on how mentoring enables criminalised people, ‘who have
often had their voices excluded or submerged by dominant empirical and/or pro-
fessional understandings to find voice’ (Buck, 2020: 7).
In finding voice, convicted people challenge professionalised understandings of ‘offen-
ders’ and suggest new approaches. They also begin to assert the centrality of struggle,
suffering and social exclusion in their lives, realities which are often missed or
immersed in new approaches that seek to correct flawed individuals. (Buck, 2020: 7)
The second part of the book explores the findings of the study, with a particular
focus on the role of identity, the importance of agency, core conditions of peer
mentoring, concepts of change and transactions of power in peer mentoring set-
tings. With a particular focus on the broader implications of Peer Mentoring in
Criminal Justice, the concluding chapter touches upon some of the potentials and
contradictions of peer mentoring in criminal justice settings and beyond. In doing
so, Buck raises an interesting point when she questions whether the ‘popular and
political support’ afforded to such practices, will continue as we begin to recognise
and fully appreciate the role of social protest within elements of peer mentoring and
indeed, the politicisation inherent in this work (p. 228). With this in mind, Buck
suggests that further research is required to establish how far peer mentoring is
political, how much they offer change to existing practice and how far they become
subsumed by established forms of knowledge and governance. Peer Mentoring in
Criminal Justice is a must read for scholars, practitioners, service users, students,
policy makers and activists with a desire to work towards the design and delivery of
a more equitable and just society. Although focused on Peer Mentoring in Criminal
Justice, Buck’s work instils hope that things can and should be better than what they
currently are, through the provision of a more humanitarian version of service
delivery both within and beyond the criminal justice system.
Privatising Justice: The Security Industry, War and Crime
Wendy Fitzgibbon and John Lea
Pluto Press; 2020, pp. 211; £19.33; pbk
ISBN: 978 0 7453 9923 2
Reviewed by: Mike Guilfoyle, Retired Member of Napo and
I was assailed with a troubling anxiety when I started to read this timely, accessible
and critically informed historical analysis of the role of the private sector in the British
Book Review 119

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