Source: (1999) European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research. 7:509-530.

This article casts a critical eye over some of the (often ignored) assumptions which underlie recent appeals to community in crime prevention and control. The article considers the philosophical origins, ambiguities and tensions within such appeals. In so doing, it draws explicitly upon the growth of ‘community safety’ and to a lesser extent ‘restorative justice’ in Britain and considers some of the implications to which this shift may give rise. In particular, it focuses upon the manner in which appeals to community converge and collide with changing social relations which may undermine their progressive potential. Specific attention is given to the implications of: increasing social and spatial dislocation; the commodification of security; and policy debates about a growing ‘underclass’. It is argued that there is much confusion as to how, and to what extent, communities can contribute to the construction of social order. Within the dynamics of community safety and crime control practices there are dangers that ‘security differentials’ may become increasingly significant characteristics of wealth and status with implications for social exclusion. This questions the extent to which crime is an appropriate vehicle around which to (re)construct open and tolerant communities.