Praise for book at British Library, 16 July 2013

Launch of Crime book at the British Library 16th July

This book is a classic
Lord Taverne, ex-Home Office minister

This book is simply brilliant. It is a classic, a book in the same mould as The Selfish Gene. Scrupulously researched with a passion that evidence should trump political correctness, whatever the cost. It is simply the most important book on crime I have ever seen. It should be on every home secretary’s desk.

It should be in every airport bookshop
Prof Richard Wortley, UCL

This is a book I wish I had written, except it is much better than anything I could have produced. This is an academic book. It just doesn’t read like one. And that is where its brilliance lies. ‘Crime’ is written in the best traditions of the popular science genre. It should be in every airport bookshop.

It attacks some of the sacred cows of both the left and the right. As you will all be too well aware, Nick Ross has paid the price for this in the media. It seems pretty clear to me that much of the reporting comprised willful and scurrilous misinterpretation of what he actually said. And I am afraid to say there were too many commentators from the chattering classes willing to jump on the bandwagon without ever going to the bother of actually reading the book. Their herd-like behaviour was shameful. They betrayed the fundamental principle of informed and reasoned debate.

Puts many full-time academics to shame
Prof Ken Pease, Loughborough, UCL

Ross is a seriously classy and talented bloke. And brave. He brings the naiveté of a little boy who noticed that the Emperor was naked. He thinks people should be able to have grown-up debates about anything. I winced at sensible but controversial passages as he explores arguments that you aren’t supposed to. What happened to him during serialisation was the sad consequence of that. It was a twitchhunt.

So what does the book provide? I can tell you that:

  • It was researched with a thoroughness that puts many full-time academics to shame.
  • It makes challenging things highly accessible, with a journalist’s skill and a scholar’s rigour.
  • It is a perspective on crime that makes sense.

In short this is a book by a man who wants to change things for the better. In establishing the Jill Dando Institute he has already done that. In writing this book he has done more.

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US reviews

No other book comes close
By Prof Ron Clarke, Professor of Criminology, Rutgers University

A major achievement by any standard, extremely well-researched, comprehensive, accessible and beautifully written.

Fascinating and Informative
By A. Winkless

While the author is writing from a British perspective, many of the lessons are universal. The most interesting part of the book is the suggestion, backed by past examples such as measures against shoplifting and car theft, of using engineering, city planning, and other disciplines to make crimes more difficult and less rewarding. Definitely worth reading if you have an interest in crime policy.

This is an intelligent look at crime and it’s solutions (or lack of them)
By eris

Nick Ross is an expert for many years on crime in the UK. Obviously there are going to be some differences between UK crime and the US but more similarities. And he makes a common point in numerous instances that all over the globe crime statistics are massaged and manipulated to fit preconceived agendas both liberal and conservative. His in-depth knowledge of the law and many years of experience serving on committees and panels as well as reporting crime makes his arguments interesting. I did not agree with all of his conclusions all the way but found his arguments compelling.

 

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Reviews on Amazon

5.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful, thought provoking – read the book not the papers
By NorfolkBooks “Norfolk Reviewer”

Nick Ross sets out his position from the outset. This is a polemic – a strongly put argument that much of our understanding of crime and punishment is misguided. And although there are points of detail one could argue about for the most part he’s right. He’s adopted an interesting approach to the evidence upon which he bases his arguments, relegating it to an accompanying website. But the crucial point is that he does cite a lot of academic research in support of his various arguments.

He does run the risk of diluting some of his points by the welter of statistics which he uses in the book (simply because you then have to go to the website to check the source of his stats and then consider whether you agree with his interpretation of the stats and after a while this becomes a bit tedious).

Perhaps the most amusing part of the book is the chapter on the way the media consistently misrepresent crime which they then proceeded, with a wholly predictable inevitability, to do to the book. The focus on the chapter on sex offences was predictable as was their request to critics to denounce the suggestion that some rapes are more serious than others. Try reading the book and you will see that Mr Ross has a clear concern for victims and at no point condones sexual offenders, but that does not stop him from questioning some of the views routinely offered on the issue. Sadly the British media love to polarise such issues, which simply inhibits mature, reasoned debate. So simply take them out of the equation and read the book and consider it for yourself.

5.0 out of 5 stars  Ross on crime
By Lord Taverne

One of the most important comments on our social problems that I have read. Nick Ross ruthlessly exposes numerous myths about crime that seem to be accepted by many civil servants, MPs, journalists, social workers, judges, the public at large and most important of all, the Home Office. It is a stimulating read, an essential one for anyone concerned to see policy based on evidence rather than prejudice.

5.0 out of 5 stars The media response proves the point
By Eleanor Burnham

I don’t usually write reviews but the media hysteria about this particular book prompted me to respond. I have read the book, which seems to be more than many of the journalists and other commentators. Ross’s views are radical and innovative; the book is both readable and well researched. And I think it is right. The public understanding of crime, much of it heavily influenced by its media representation, is not reflected in the reality of the phenomenon. As a consequence we end up with too many people in prison and too many victims. Contrary to many of the accusations in the media, Ross’s sympathy with the victims of crime, and for that matter many of the offenders, comes across throughout. I hope more people, particularly the politicians and decision makers, will find the time to read this book. It is an easy read presenting a difficult message.

5.0 out of 5 stars  Front To Back In A Day!,
By RGS Yorkshire

This is a very, very good book.
Sometimes, when an issue becomes a matter of academic, public and political discourse, the actual issue disappears into a mist of half-truths and deliberate misrepresentation. Such is the case with crime.
Nick Ross, in this excellent book, blows away the mist and exposes the truth using relevant evidence.
His solution is teasingly simple.
A really absorbing, thoroughly enjoyable and thought-provoking book. Highly recommended.

5.0 out of 5 stars Honest, so reviled

By aniwright

Nick Ross has written a fine, honest and useful book. Its serialisation in the Mail on Sunday has evoked a storm of criticism of what he is presumed to have written, but hasn’t. It seems that only a few questions about crime are allowable and any more nuanced depiction is reduced to a position on the formulaic question. Thus, for example, any discussion of rape has to be reduced to the question of whether ‘No means no’. Of course it does. Nothing in the book remotely suggests otherwise, but Ross is castigated as though this were the issue he addresses. Any reasonable person reading the book alongside the media feeding frenzy will end up feeling very sorry for its author.

5.0 out of 5 stars The best book on crime that I have read
By Larry V

I found the book inspirational. So many dead ends and failed policy’s on dealing with crime and now a book that shines a light on how to go forward, undo the negative approaches we have been following and actually make a difference.

Brilliantly written and researched,controversial at times, but at last an honest book on the causes of crime and how to deal with it.

As a magistrate for ten years, seeing the same people committing the same crimes on the carousel of criminal injustice, I wish that every home secretary was forced to read this book from cover to cover.

Highly recommended

See many more reviews on Amazon at http://www.amazon.co.uk/product-reviews/1849544999/ref=cm_cr_dp_see_all_btm?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1&sortBy=bySubmissionDateDescending.

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The Book

crimebookIn a whirlwind demolition of dozens of misconceptions about crime, Nick Ross proposes what is arguably the most radical re-think of crime policy since the dawn of policing. Setting conventional thinking on its head CRIME challenges everything we take for granted. Nick Ross demonstrates why the criminal justice system has little effect on crime rates, how policing has been hijacked to serve the needs of lawyers, and how “facts” about crime are continually manipulated to serve the needs of politicians and the media.

This extraordinary book confronts assumptions that crime is caused by poverty or moral decay and instead reveals the true drivers of theft, violence and anti-social behaviour. It explains why crime rocketed and why it has fallen so precipitously. Most importantly, CRIME sets out a wide-ranging strategy for revolutionising criminal and policing policy.

It will delight those who come to it with an open mind and infuriate ideologues from left, right and centre.

Above all CRIME is a book every Home Secretary and opinion-former ought to read.

See www.thecrimebook.com

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Alan White, Spectator Review

‘And I thought I’d never see it: a TV presenter developing a deep and thoughtful interest in his subject. Diving beneath the surface where cameras and Autocue cannot follow, Nick Ross explores a theory of crime so simple and universal – and in its way obvious – that it’s almost shocking. He has turned my assumptions upside down.’ – Matthew Parris.

‘A fascinating and beautifully written corrective to the many myths and false legends surrounding the issues of crime and punishment, from fraud to paedophilia. Nick Ross’s book is an evidence-rich zone which our policy-makers – and we the citizens – would do well to spend some time in.’ – David Aaronovitch

‘Hold on to your hats: Nick Ross’s book on crime is actually not bad.’ – Alan White, Spectator 

‘Brilliant. Incisive and full of insight, cutting through so much of the nonsense that is talked about crime. A voice of sanity amongst the politicking and posturing that comes with tackling crime.’ – Fiona Bruce

 

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The Rape Row

After the Mail on Sunday serialised the book it confected a row by approaching commenters to attack extracts from a chapter about sex crimes. The most important criticisms came from Jo Wood, a former magistrate and science researcher who runs Merseyside’s Rape & Sexual Abuse (RASA) Centre and was awarded an MBE for her work with rape victims. In 2011 she was named the

Cheshire Woman of the Year. Her denunciations were widely quoted a in the Sun, The Times and on the BBC and set off a chain of vitriolic comments in social media.

However, Jo Wood then read the book and (with her permission to quote her reaction) this is her considered response: ‘The book is an extensive study on crime and the causes of crime and has very few references to rape. The excerpts published in the Mail on Sunday have in the main been taken out of context and quoted accordingly. All those responses made by us and others have been made on the basis of “sound bite” quotes which when taken in context can actually read quite differently.’

She then goes through each of the phrases for which I was lambasted. For example:

• “Who is to blame for rape?” This is followed by “It is plainly objectionable to reproach a victim for her own misfortune, so why do so many women do it?

• “Women who are flirtatious are at least partly responsible if they are raped, and a quarter feel the same way about rape victims who act provocatively.” This is a section quoting the facts discovered by Amnesty International and is not a personal opinion.

• The quote re: “we have come to acknowledge it is foolish to leave laptops on the back seats of cars...” Is followed by “No amount of incitement can ever excuse rape.” This particular section is actually making the case for rape to be looked at differently and thought about differently “it is inane to confuse explanation with justification.”

• The rape is rape section – gradations of rape – on reading the whole chapter it is apparent that the point is that victims themselves do not always see what happened to them as rape because rape is most commonly presented as strangers down dark alleys.

 

And so it goes on.

Jo Wood concludes:

‘Maybe they should think about who is fast becoming the victim here – and without even holding a trial. Having read the full version I am satisfied that there is no intention to criticise victims of rape and that the comments made, when read in context actually strengthen the arguments for sexual violence crimes to be treated with the empathy and respect that victims demand. I would seriously suggest anyone who still supports the furore that has broken out – takes time out to READ THE BOOK.’

 

See Victims’ testimony

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Victims’ Testimony

After the Mail on Sunday row broke many rape victims contacted me, most to offer support. Two were hostile but when I replied they apologised and promised to read the boom rather than react to how others had reacted.

This email came from a woman who deeply resents ‘the madness’ and ‘the rants’ that drown out voices like her own:

‘I was raped twice in my teens. Neither were traumatic experiences. I didn’t feel great about myself afterwards but I put myself in situations where there would certainly have been confusion/ambiguity on the man’s part in my desires. It was to do with my generally low self-esteem at the time, but that was my problem, and not theirs’

One yearns to address the lack of self-esteem which led her to this view of herself, but voices like hers must not be ignored. Of course hers might be a minority view. But that’s the point: victims refuse to submit to a stereotype.

Another woman, who was forcibly raped by a man she knew well, emailed:

‘It sits there in my memory, and rears up and bites me when I least expect it… but the act did not blight my life, leave me traumatised [or] afraid of men. Nick is right. Tell him so please, and long may he continue to say what he thinks. I have rarely admired a journalist more,’ adding, ‘He is welcome to use my tale as he sees fit.’

And another wrote:

‘In company with most people I’m getting irate about this story. I am a victim myself and I certainly see the variations between what I experienced and what other victims in other situations might experience. It is a great shame we can’t talk seriously about the very real problem of rape because any comment that isn’t baying for the blood of all offenders everywhere is screamed down. The vitriol makes sensible discussion impossible.’

 

See Mail on Sunday right of reply   

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The rape row Mail on Sunday right of reply

After the predictable outcry the Mail on Sunday offered me a right of reply. This was then sneakily squashed beneath a concocted story headlined Fern Britton hits back at Crimewatch founder’s book  Fern had not read the book and, so far as I know, has no criticisms of my views.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2334474/Fern-Britton-I-raped-I-21-I-tell-Nick-Ross–unwanted-sex-violation.html

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Forthcoming Events

Police Foundation Annual Lecture 11 July

Book launch British Library 16 July

Ham & High Literary Festival 16 September

Queen Mary 2 book lectures 23-27 September

Henley Literary Festival 30 September

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The Guardian’s self-guiding penis

It’s odd how even Guardianistas, who claim to revile the Mail, believe what it says and allow it to set their agenda. Of all the ignorant attacks on me one of the classics was a bizarre column in The Guardian by Martin Robbins who describes himself as a science writer but who does, or did, no original research and seems led by the nose by the confections of the Mail on Sunday.

He had plainly not troubled to read the book, which is odd for a man who claims to be an exposer of pseudoscience. He did not even bother to look me up online, in which case he might have discovered that I have been doing twenty years what he merely claims to do as a campaigner for good science, as a member of the Committee on Public Understanding of Science, twice chair of the Science Book Prize, Guest Director of the Cheltenham Science Festival, President of the quack-busting charity HealthWatch and a Board member of the leading organisation for tackling scientific myths, Sense About Science. Nor did he bother to look at the website devoted to the book which lists thousands of references on which each assertion in the book is based. Instead he opines that any ‘truths’ in the book had been, ‘learned from his career as a television presenter’.

Oh dear. His whole article is essentially a rant. He airily criticises my, ‘clumsy use of statistics to suggest that men are equal victims of domestic violence,’ without explaining why the several pages of evidence I cite is in any way wanting of rigour or precision. Presumably he was in too much of a hurry to check.

He says the book claims ‘provocative clothing’ is a cause of rape when in fact, of course, it says no such thing. In fact it draws almost the opposite conclusion pointing out that, despite the routine nature of nights on the binge, so-called stranger rapes are relatively rare.

He too recognises that, ‘The average rapist is not a stranger in a ski mask, hiding in the bushes.’

But he then seeks to ridicule me for wondering whether formal prosecution is always the most rational way to deal with rape:  ‘Given what we know about predatory behaviour, the grooming and manipulation of victims, and the ability of serial rapists to remain undetected, it’s one of the most stupid questions you could possibly ask.’

Excuse me, didn’t he just concede that the average rapist is not a stranger, but is known to the victim? This is why it is agonisingly hard, often prohibitively hard, for victims to go into a public court to air the matter. And this is why so many cases lack the sort of evidence that is likely to persuade a jury to convict. And this is why, if courts are our only answer, so many women are failed by our approach.

Mr Robbins then attributes a whole range of motives to rapists which are largely a fantasy on his part, applicable only a small cohort of offenders, before triumphantly, but idiotically, suggesting that I am proposing men cannot help themselves -  in what he calls the myth of the self-guiding penis. I make precisely and emphatically the opposite case.

In doing so I have been supported by many rape victims, and by my first critic – a brilliant rape victim support worker from Merseyside who was recruited to attack me by the Mail but who, having read the book, now endorses it.

If there is really a self-guiding penis out there Martin Robbins might be it.

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