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The Centre of Criminology (formerly known as the Institute of Criminology) is a research unit linked to the Department of Public Law. The Centre aims to initiate, co-ordinate and develop research and extension services in the broad field of criminology, and to promote public interest in all aspects of criminology. Since 2007 the core focus has become that of African security and justice.

Current research in the Centre focuses on two main areas in criminology which are physical security and environmental security.

In the area of Physical Security, Prof Elrena van der Spuy undertook research on police in peacekeeping in Africa, including the challenges of policing in civil war contexts and South-South cooperation in peace-building and crime prevention. Prof John Cartwright was involved in a pilot project, with sites in Crossroads, Gordon’s Bay and Muizenberg, undertaken with the City of Cape Town’s Metropolitan Police Department. This project has explored the potential of using neighbourhood-based security officers as a policing methodology, developed in collaboration with the Dutch Police in Amsterdam.  Julie Berg is involved in the Plural Policing Programme of research exploring initiatives that have adopted a plural governance approach to policing. A recent initiative within this programme is a project that explores the policing of the soccer World Cup in 2010 and includes research by Prof Van der Spuyon the international police cooperation that was a feature of the World Cup’s security governance.  A related initiative, being undertaken with the support and cooperation of the Western Cape’s Department of Community Safety and the Premier’s Office, is focused on building a model that the Province can use to adopt as a policing coordinator within a “whole of society” conception of security governance.  Finally, within this research arena, the Centre with Prof Clifford Shearing, as advisor, is engaged in a collaborative interdisciplinary project, with the University of Aberdeen, Scotland on Compromise after Conflict that is exploring post-conflict in South Africa, Sri Lanka and Northern Ireland.

The environmental security research programme is focused on the emergence of environmental security as an area of (in) security that will become increasingly central to 21st Century security.  The programme builds upon criminology’s established concerns with risks that threaten human well-being and how these risks are, and should be, governed.  In doing so it seeks to expand the boundaries of criminology in ways that will enable it to assist in understanding and responding to the new environmental challenges, such as climate change, that have already become such a crucial feature of the new century.

Although this programme is in its infancy it has already spawned several research initiatives. One of these is an initiative that focuses on the impact of environmental changes (such as increases in flooding, sea level rise and fire) on poor communities and how poor communities development and well-being can be enhanced in the course of governing to these risks. A key applied focus of the environmental security projects has been the development of a series of regulatory models/toolkits that can be easily and practically implemented, to enhance environmental security within poor communities. 

A second research initiative within the environmental security programme is focused on the role of municipalities as public sector regulators that play a crucial role in contributing to environmental (in)security though their regulatory interventions across a wide variety of arenas.  A final initiative within the environmental security theme involving Prof Shearing and Tom Herbstein, has been a collaborative project with the CSIR (the South African Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research) and Santam, South Africa’s largest short-term insurer, on the impact of climate change and related environmental risks on the sustainability of the insurance industry and the role that commercial insurance can play in mitigating and adapting to these risks. 


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