Monday, 5 December 2011

New book by Keele Criminologist

Helen Wells, graduate of Keele and now lecturer on the Keele Criminology programme has just had her first book published by Ashgate. The book The Fast and The Furious: Drivers, Speed Cameras and Control in a Risk Society is based on her PhD research carried out at Keele between 2002 and 2006 and is published as part of the Human Factors in Road and Rail Transport series. The book offers an explanation for the continued debate about one  particular and emotive road safety intervention - the speed camera - by situating that debate within contemporary literature about the ‘risk society’ (Beck, 1992) and more broadly understood experiences of risk faced on a daily basis by drivers. Rather than a focus on risk as something that can be objectively assessed, measured and managed separately from the social context in which it is encountered, it suggests that ‘risk’ is something that permeates this particular debate from every angle.

You can read sample pages of the book (or even buy it!) here.

The book has received the following reviews:

‘Helen Wells sets out on an important and timely quest to place roads policing through speed cameras in the context of a “risk society”. Rightly, she avoids a debate about their effectiveness. Rather, she looks at changes in policing through greater use of technology and at the roles played by researchers, pressure groups and experts. As an expert cited, I found this a fascinating survey of a controversial topic.’
– Robert Gifford, Executive Director, Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety, UK

’We’ve waited a long time for this fresh perspective on a topic that touches us all in risk society. Using a multi-method, multi-site empirical study as her basis, Wells unpicks the many and contradictory strands of the speed camera debate, deliberately retaining a neutral stance and positioning the whole enterprise within a risk narrative. As such it delivers a powerful analysis of what was seen to “go wrong” through giving “voice” to drivers, and serves up timely insights for the enforcing authorities. A real tour de force!’
– Claire Corbett, Brunel Law School, UK

’A real thought provoker for anyone who has ever had an opinion about speed cameras! Through the voices of drivers, enforcers, persuaders, and decision-makers, this is an insightful look at the debate on arguably the most contentious of ‘techno-fixes’. In explaining how, in many people’s eyes, “safety cameras” became “speed traps”, Wells reminds us that opinions cannot be changed by scientific evidence alone and that public acceptance is a prerequisite for any intervention.’
– Lindsey Simkins, Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, UK