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Dangerous PoliticsRisk, Political Vulnerability, and Penal Policy$
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Harry Annison

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198728603

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198728603.001.0001

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Ideologies, Expertise, and Illusory Democratization

(p.50) 3 Construction
Dangerous Politics

Harry Annison

Oxford University Press

This chapter provides a detailed historical reconstruction of the Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) policymaking process. It makes clear government ministers’ demand for a risk-based sentence targeting ‘dangerous offenders’. Many dissenting and informed voices were sidelined. However, we see that the sentence was nonetheless heavily conditioned by legal considerations. Crucially, a commonsense, inexpert conception of risk came to dominate policy decisions. Warnings about limitations of extant risk assessment processes and the likely effects on prison population and resources were raised, but largely ignored. Similarly, instances of political resistance are sighted, but with limited effects. In conclusion, it is argued that the dominant Westminster tradition facilitated the development of the IPP sentence, and underpinned a process in which, while being a constant reference point, the public effectively constituted ‘dummy players’.

Keywords:   risk, expertise, commonsense, penal policymaking, Westminster tradition, legitimacy, populism

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