Professor Nigel Fielding
Criminology is sometimes described as a ‘rendezvous discipline’. Through its conferences, journals, and networking activities, the British Society of Criminology has long promoted work across disciplinary borders. This is something I have greatly valued. At the Society’s meetings one witnesses a genuine enthusiasm for coming at issues of crime, deviance and social control from a variety of perspectives, and without divisions into ‘camps’ like those sometimes found elsewhere. This does not mean that debate has not been at times passionate and committed. But there is always the feeling of a shared fascination with how society plays out the high dramas of what is right and what is wrong.
I have been a member of the BSC for the whole of my professional career. As editor (with Les Wilkins) of the Howard Journal of Criminal Justice from 1985 to 1998, it was sensible to maintain a good dialogue with my opposite numbers at the British Journal of Criminology and we co-participated in editors sessions at some of the annual conferences. British criminology is lucky in having both a ‘broad church’ organization representing criminology – the BSC – and a campaigning organization focused on applying research to policy reform – the Howard League. I haven’t held office in the BSC but I have benefited enormously from the activities of its regional branch network and the annual conferences. I know no better way of keeping up with the intellectual trends and the backstories behind the policy initiatives of the day.
My interests in criminology are largely in policing. That includes research on police selection, training, and resignation factors; police socialization and occupational culture; community policing; police ethics and integrity; police-community engagement; police intelligence-gathering and criminal investigation. My recent work has also included studies of the judiciary and the experience of lay people at court. I am currently conducting a systematic review as part of the ESRC/College of Policing ‘What Works Centre for Crime Reduction’. I am also involved in Home Office/HEFCE work on analytics for Open Source Communications, reflecting the current police interest in using social media as a community tensions indicator and medium for community engagement. I am also leading a charity-funded study of the needs of police officers and their families when officers, auxiliaries or staff are injured or killed in the line of duty. The study covers both physical and psychological injury and uses a mixed-method research design. Researching in criminology has given very good opportunities over the years to apply my interests in methodological innovation – around new technologies for social research, mixed methods, and qualitative software.