By David Smith.
ISBN 0 333 58751 0
It provides a précis of theories of criminology, tackles
psychological perspectives on crime and deviance, gives good
reference to feminist and racial influences on crime and does so at
a tempo which achieves good coverage. There are helpful references
to the interplay between theory, policy and practice and why so
often the links between the three are less than rational.
The text is timely as it reiterates why probation studies needs
to stay in the mainstream of social work education, despite current
government thinking to the contrary. It underlines that criminology
is not just an interesting afternoon option for social work
It is at its weakest when the pithy analysis of criminology does
not carry over into an equally strong analysis of social work.
National standards for the probation service, the increasing
separation of child care and youth justice from community care plus
the impact of the purchaser/provider split, only get a passing
mention. There is also the matter of whether to put all the
analysis at the front and consequences at the end, so risking the
potential whine of ‘but how is this relevant’ from those lacking
stamina, or intertwine the two and give an impression of hopping
from one subject to another.
The book is a comprehensive introduction for Diploma in Social
Work students. It is attractive enough to persuade the less curious
to read the sources, and for the old intermediate treatment worker
it is sharp enough to bring back misty-eyed memories of
half-remembered theoretical models.
Andrew Kerslake is director of the Social Services
Research and Development Unit, University of Bath.