Top criminologist is new A-rated researcher

26 November 2007

The law faculty's Professor Clifford Shearing, an internationally acknowledged leader in the field of security governance, is UCT's newest National Research Foundation A-rated researcher.

Shearing is director and chair of the Centre of Criminology in the Department of Criminal Justice, and holds the National Research Foundation Chair in African Security and Justice.

He is often sought out by governments worldwide to advise on how policing and security can be provided more effectively. In South Africa this is a vital contribution that he makes to South African society.

"The prestigious A-rating recognises his contributions worldwide and affirms that he is a leading international scholar in his field," head of department, Professor Pamela-Jane Schwikkard, said.

Shearing's was among the first 21 National System of Innovation research chairs announced earlier this year.

"The African Security and Justice programme associated with the chair contributes to building sustainable research, teaching, policy, and implementation capacity in African security and justice," Schwikkard added.

Shearing's 39 years' experience as a criminologist includes a stint with the Centre of Criminology at the University of Toronto. Shearing was previously the director of the Centre of Criminology at the University of Toronto, recognised as a top-ranked criminological graduate research institution.

He was also co-director of the Regulatory Institutions Network, an internationally recognised graduate regulatory research institution at the Australian National University.

Locally, Shearing served on a multinational panel to inquire into curbing violence and intimidation during South Africa's first democratic elections in 1994.

He also served on the Independent Commission on Policing for Northern Ireland, established under the terms of the Northern Ireland Peace Agreement, 1998 to 1999.

A BSocSc honours graduate of the University of Natal, Shearing has an MA and PhD in sociology from the University of Toronto.

Currently he is developing research on environmental security and governance.

"His criminological scholarship initially used the enormous growth that was taking place in private security during the last quarter of the 20th century as an empirical window through which to explore polycentric governance," Schwikkard noted.

Shearing is widely published. His latest monographs are a book with Jennifer Wood, Imagining Security; Governing Security: Explorations in policing and justice, published in 2003 with Les Johnston; and the New Structure of Policing with David Bayley in 2001. A new book with Michael Kempa, Policing, is due to be published in 2008.

His research and thinking is grounded in the premise that policy and practice should be theory-led and evidence-based.

"Clifford is a very modest person, which makes one forget that he is a leading scholar in his field who has reshaped criminological thinking internationally," Schwikkard concluded.

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