Riots in the U.K.: Crime

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Dr. John MacDonald

Department Chair, Associate Professor of Criminology

University of Pennsylvania



  • Director, Jerry Lee Center of Criminology at Penn
  • Has conducted research on policing, community relations and youth violence.
  • Author of numerous papers and articles on a wide variety of topics in criminology that include the study of interpersonal violence, race and ethnic disparities in criminal justice and the effectiveness of social policy responses to crime. 


            “The current crisis in the U.K. reflects many of the same problems that have existed in policing in the United States for decades.  In the U.K., as in many large U.S. cities, there has been a focus on controlling crime and disorder through street sweeps, aggressive traffic enforcement and field interrogations. These approaches, when done with insufficient regard to public trust, exacerbate already tense relations between the police and socially disadvantaged minority communities.  

            “While these tactics can be effective methods for controlling crime and disorder, they are too often conducted in poor neighborhoods, against black and other minorities in an indiscriminate fashion with little regard to community sentiment.  It is vitally important that the police in the U.K. focus on efforts that control crime and establish trust with the community. Such an approach requires figuring out how to realistically address the consequences of the disjuncture between popular crime control strategies and acceptable solutions in social disadvantaged communities.”