Conference / Meeting

“We always have a big stick in reserve”: Punitive approaches to disorder and crime in European cities 

Guest Lecture Series
8 March 2022
Start time 
3:15 pm
Palazzo Paolo Prodi - Via Tommaso Gar 14, Trento
Room 001
School of International Studies
Target audience: 


In the last decades, crime prevention at the European, national and local levels, has included a concern not only with serious crime but also with incivilities (disorder, anti-social behaviour, nuisance). The idea underlying this – which has largely been informed by Wilson and Kelling’s (1982) Broken Windows Theory – is that incivilities contribute to fear of crime and feelings of insecurity, and that they are ultimately conducive to more serious offences. In practice, this reasoning has led to a combination of punitive measures to tackle ‘problem behaviours’ at the national and local levels: mostly administrative measures when behaviour is deemed to be merely ‘uncivil’ or disorderly, and mainly criminal law when it is connected to serious crime. Policies and practices, however, vary from EU Member State to Member State, and even from city to city, where specific combinations of punitive measures can have various negative impacts on already marginalised groups. Using the regulation of sex work in two European cities as a case study and drawing on critical criminological scholarship, this presentation will show how ‘problem behaviours’ are constructed and tackled differently (yet punitively) in different city areas, generating negative effects on the lives of sex workers – and especially on non-EU migrants among them.


Anna di Ronco - University of Essex


Anna Di Ronco (PhD, LM) is Senior Lecturer in Criminology at the Sociology Department of the University of Essex and Director of its Centre for Criminology. Anna’s critical criminological research focuses on urban incivilities, the regulation of sex work, local-level policing, urban resistance, criminalised environmental movements and social media protest. She published her research extensively in all these areas and, on the topic of the social control of urban incivilities, she recently co-edited a book titled 'Harm and Disorder in the Urban Space: Social Control, Sense and Sensibility' (Routledge, 2021). Anna is currently a Visiting Scholar at the Oñati International Institute for the Sociology of Law (IISL).