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Ian Loader is Professor of Criminology and Professorial Fellow of All Souls College. He is also an Honorary Professorial Fellow in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Melbourne. Ian is a Fellow of British Academy and the Royal Society for the Arts.

Ian is the author of six books, including Public Criminology?  (Routledge, 2010, with Richard Sparks), and six edited volumes, including Democratic Theory and Mass Incarceration (with Albert Dzur and Richard Sparks, Oxford UP, 2016) and The SAGE Handbook of Global Policing (with Ben Bradford, Bea Jauregui and Jonny Steinberg, 2016). Ian has published theoretical and empirical papers on policing, private security, public sensibilities towards crime, penal policy and culture, the politics of crime control, and the public roles of criminology.

Ian is currently working on a three-year study entitled ‘Place, crime and insecurity in everyday life: A contemporary study of an English town’ funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. The study – conducted with Evi Girlingand Gosia Polanska (Keele), Richard Sparks (Edinburgh), Ben Bradford (UCL) and Ryan Casey (Oxford) – investigates how people living in one English town, Macclesfield in Cheshire, talk about and act towards a range of threats that they regard as impinging upon their safety (their personal bodily integrity, their property, their locality, their wider habitat). In the mid-1990s, three members of the research team addressed earlier versions of these questions through a study of people's fears and feelings towards crime and social order in Macclesfield in Cheshire. The outcomes of this work were published in a book, Crime and Social Change in Middle England (2000). The team is revisiting Macclesfield, a quarter of a century later, to undertake a new study of people's everyday experiences of in/security against the backdrop of rapid social, political and technological change (notably, the digital revolution, migration, austerity, and Brexit).

Ian is also  working on a monograph with the working title of Ideologies in Crime Control  to be published by Oxford University Press. The book forms part of a long-term project Ian has pursued with Richard Sparks – termed A Better Politics of Crime - which is concerned with different dimensions of the relationship between crime control and democratic politics. Ian also continues to research and write on policing and private security.

Ian is Editor-in-Chief of the Howard Journal of Crime and Justice. He also serves on the Editoral Boards of Policing, International Political Sociology and Delito y Sociedad.

Ian is a member of the Advisory Board for the Strategic Review of Policing in England and Wales and of the Research Advisory Board of the Canada/Nova Scotia Mass Casualty Commission.

Ian supervises doctoral students working on the sociology of policing and security. He is particularly keen to work with students focused on everyday in/securities and the politics of crime and justice. 


Recent additions

  • I Loader, 'Authorising Race: On Police Reproduction of Difference ' in J Beek, T Bierschenk, A Kolloch, B Meyer (ed), Policing Differences: Perspectives from Europe (Manchester University Press 2022) (forthcoming)
    In this chapter, I reflect on the relation of police-minority interactions to the contexts that condition the shape of these encounters and which the encounters, in turn, sustain. These are the context of law (the relation of ‘underground’ categories of race to supposedly race-neutral bureaucratic and legal processes); the context of work (the relation of police race-making to the tragic properties of the police mandate), and the context of inequality (the relation of situated police re-enactments of difference to the already existing structure and cultural representation of racialised injustice). My claim is that police action draws upon a system of racialised categorisation and puts its categories to work situationally, while also re-authorising and putting back into circulation social knowledge about racialised difference, as well as the generic idea that ‘race’ is and should be a relevant category for thinking about crime, ordering and justice.
  • I Loader and R Sparks, 'Reasonable Hopes: Social Theory, Critique and Reconstruction in Contemporary Criminology' in A Liebling, J Shapland and R Sparks (eds), Crime, Justice and Social Order: Essays in Honour of A. E. Bottoms (Oxford University Press 2021)

Chapter (36)

I Loader, 'Authorising Race: On Police Reproduction of Difference ' in J Beek, T Bierschenk, A Kolloch, B Meyer (ed), Policing Differences: Perspectives from Europe (Manchester University Press 2022) (forthcoming)
In this chapter, I reflect on the relation of police-minority interactions to the contexts that condition the shape of these encounters and which the encounters, in turn, sustain. These are the context of law (the relation of ‘underground’ categories of race to supposedly race-neutral bureaucratic and legal processes); the context of work (the relation of police race-making to the tragic properties of the police mandate), and the context of inequality (the relation of situated police re-enactments of difference to the already existing structure and cultural representation of racialised injustice). My claim is that police action draws upon a system of racialised categorisation and puts its categories to work situationally, while also re-authorising and putting back into circulation social knowledge about racialised difference, as well as the generic idea that ‘race’ is and should be a relevant category for thinking about crime, ordering and justice.
I Loader and R Sparks, 'Reasonable Hopes: Social Theory, Critique and Reconstruction in Contemporary Criminology' in A Liebling, J Shapland and R Sparks (eds), Crime, Justice and Social Order: Essays in Honour of A. E. Bottoms (Oxford University Press 2021)
I Loader and R Sparks, 'Para una sociología histórica de la política penal en Inglaterra y Gales desde 1968' in M Sozzo (ed), Más Allá de la Cultura del Control (Ediciones Ad-Hoc 2018)
I Loader and B Bradford, 'Police, Crime and Order: The Case of Stop and Search' in B Bradford B Jauregui I Loader J Steinberg (ed), The SAGE Handbook of Global Policing (Sage 2016)
In this chapter we revisit and extend discussion about the relation of the police to the key political concepts of ‘crime’ and ‘order’ using the case of the police power of stop and search/frisk. We select this power as a case study because its exercise is laden with implications for how we understand the overarching purpose of the police and seek to control and govern police work. Using evidence on the social and spatial distribution of stop and search from several jurisdictions, we contest two legitimating fictions about this power – that it is a tool of crime detection and that it can be subject to effective legal regulation. The evidence, we argue, suggests that stop and search is about control and the assertion of order and the effort to do this implicates not only ‘fighting crime’ but also regulating and disciplining populations based on who they are, not how they behave. Given this, we argue, stop and search is best understood as an aspect of The Police Power recently theorized by Markus Dubber (2005) – a potentially limitless, uncontrollable, extra-legal power to do what is necessary to monitor and control marginal populations. In conclusion, we spell out the regulatory implications of understanding stop and search in these terms.
I Loader, 'Security, Anti-Security, Positive Security' in M Schuilenburg, R van Steden and B Oude Breuil (eds), Positive Criminology: Reflections on Care, Belonging and Security (The Hague: Eleven Publishers 2014)
I Loader, 'Policing Unlimited?: Security, Civic Governance and the Public Good' in K van der Vijver and J Terpstra (eds), Urban Safety: Problems, Governance and Strategies (IPIT 2004)
I Loader and R Sparks, 'Contemporary Landscapes of Crime, Order and Control: Governance, Risk and Globalization' in M Maguire, R Morgan and R Reiner (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Criminology (3rd Edn) (Oxford University Press 2002)

Review (6)

I Loader, 'Not Just Securitization: On the Limits of Limiting Security Practices' (2021) 6 European Journal of International Security [Review]

Internet Publication (3)

I Loader, 'Recognition and Redemption: Visions of Safety and Justice in Black Lives Matter' (2021) SSRN Paper
In this paper, I recover and appraise the principal ways in which movements motivated by the ideal of racial justice have sought to transform how questions of police and punishment are imagined and acted upon. The focus of the enquiry is the visions of safety and justice found in Black Lives Matter. I offer an interpretive reconstruction and appraisal of the core claims found with the Black Lives Matter movement and their ideological lineage and affinities. The paper seeks to understand those claims anthropologically, from the inside, trying to offer a best-case rendition of their contexts and appeal. It also seeks to situate these claims politically (while recognizing diversity and avoiding the imposition of some spurious unity) with a view to appraising the normative character of the alternative plausible world that Black Lives Matter projects and seeks to usher into being. My claim is that one finds in Black Lives Matter a tension between a politics of self-determination and a wider politics of transformative redemption.

Journal Article (43)

I Loader, 'A Question of Sacrifice: The Deep Structure of Deaths in Police Custody' (2020) 29 Social & Legal Studies 401
Deaths in police custody present a set of enduring and troubling puzzles. Why do such deaths seldom result in prosecutions or adequate redress? Why are victims’ families so under-resourced and typically met with a conflicted mix of empathy and hostility? Why do acknowledged problems remain unresolved despite review after review making the same criticisms and seemingly consensual recommendations? Why is the state’s failure to fulfil its duty of care towards those it detains met with public indifference? In this paper, I argue that that we can shed new light on these questions if we theorize and investigate police power using the metaphor of sacrifice. Thinking about police power through this lens enables us to identify and illuminate a conflict between the liberal rationality that appears to govern responses to custodial deaths and the illiberal values and affects that constitute what I term the deep structure of deaths in police custody. By re-examining reports of recent enquiries into the issue I outline four recurring elements of this deep structure and show how they clash with surface liberal rationalities. The systemic reduction of custodial death requires, I conclude, that we name and contest the quasi-sacred conception of police authority that holds the police vital to the production of order and control and its agents to require protection when things ‘go wrong’.
I Loader, 'Crime, Order and the Two Faces of Conservatism: An Encounter with Criminology's Other' (2020) 60 British Journal of Criminology 1181
Over the past half century conservatism has been a powerful force in shaping public and political responses to crime in Britain. But within criminology, conservative ideology remains curiously neglected and poorly understood. In this paper I develop an interpretive reconstruction of conservative thinking about crime that seeks to make good this inattention. My central contention is that one finds in conservative ideology both an emotionally and culturally resonant case for making police authority and penal control central to the production of order and arguments for sceptical penal restraint and non-penal modes of socialization. But from which aspects of its conceptual morphology do these two faces of conservatism arise? In answering this question, my encounter identifies the claims that conservatism bring to contests over a better politics of crime (claims with which non-conservatives are required to reckon), as well as pinpointing certain shortcomings and blind-spots of conservative ideology.
I Loader and A White, 'Valour for Money? Contested Commodification in the Market for Security' (2018) 58 British Journal of Criminology 1401
DOI: 10.1093/bjc/azy004
Scholars of security governance generally assume that the labour of private security officers can straightforwardly be transformed into discrete commodities. We argue, by contrast, that it is extremely difficult to commodify the labour of private security officers because their duties frequently require them to confront and work through both economic responsibilities (what does my contract say?) and moral obligations (what does my conscience say?). We substantiate this argument by exploring how heroic acts performed by private security officers – preventing suicide attempts, intervening in violent assaults, orchestrating hazardous evacuations – are celebrated through industry awards ceremonies. In so doing, we not only contribute towards the conceptualisation of security goods as contested commodities, but also facilitate a reappraisal of the market for security.
I Loader and A White, 'How can we Better Align Private Security with the Public Interest? Towards a Civilizing Model of Regulation' (2017) 12 Regulation & Governance 166
DOI: 10.1111/rego.12109
How can we better align private security with the public interest? This question has met with two answers in the literature on private security regulation, one seeking to cleanse the market of deviant sellers, the other to communalize the market through the empowerment of buyers. Both models of regulation are premised upon a limited neoclassical economic conception of how market transactions map onto the public interest. This article makes the case for a new model of regulation, one that seeks to civilize private security. Drawing upon the insights of economic sociology, our model regards the market for security as a moral economy in which commodity and non-commodity values jostle and collide. On this basis, we propose a regulatory architecture where buyers and sellers are cast not only as economic actors but also as moral actors, in the process revealing new avenues through which to encompass private security within the democratic promise of security.
I Loader, B Loftus and C Hansen Löfstrand, 'Private Security as Moral Drama: A Tale of Two Scandals' (2017) 28 Policing & Society 968
This article explores the phenomenon of scandals as they unfold in the private security industry. We begin by outlining our theoretical understanding of scandals, before tracking the key phases of two recent events - one in Sweden, the other in the UK. Scandals, we suggest, are best viewed as moral tales which dramatize a host of societal norms and values about private security and criminal justice, prompting a great deal of normative conflict. The wider point we draw from the analysis is that when market actors enter the field of policing and criminal justice, they not only re-shape that field, they are also re-shaped by it. Private security cannot, in other words, escape the moral dilemmas and conflicts that inescapably attend practices of policing and punishment.
I Loader, C Hansen Löfstrand and B Loftus, ' Doing ‘Dirty Work’: Stigma and Esteem in the Private Security Industry' (2016) 13/3 European Journal of Criminology 297
DOI: 10.1177/1477370815615624
This article draws upon two different ethnographic studies – one based in Sweden, the other in the United Kingdom – to explore how private security officers working in an ambiguous and stigmatized industry construct and repair their self-esteem. While the concept of ‘dirty work’ (Hughes 1951) has been applied to public police officers, an examination of private security officers as dirty workers remains undeveloped. Along with describing instances of taint designation and management, we find that the occupational culture of security officers enhances self-esteem by infusing security work with a sense of purpose. As members of a tainted occupation, security officers employ a range of strategies to deflect scorn and reframe their work as important and necessary.
I Loader, 'In Search of Civic Policing: Recasting the 'Peelian' Principles' (2016) 10 Criminal Law and Philosophy 427
DOI: 10.1007/s11572-014-9318-1
For over a century the so-called ‘Peelian’ principles have been central to the self-understanding of Anglo-American policing. But these principles are the product of modern state-building and speak only partially to the challenges of urban policing today. In fact, they stand in the way of clear thinking and better practice. In this paper, I argue that these principles ought to be radically recast and put to work in new ways. The argument proceeds as follows. First, I recover and outline the current ‘Peelian’ principles and argue that they lack the specificity, sufficiency and status required in order to do real work in the governance of policing. Secondly, I make the case for principles both as a regulative ideal guiding our aspirations for what policing can become and as a means of regulating police work in the here-and-now. I then develop a revised set of principles and indicate, in conclusion, how they can guide the formation of trust-producing and democracy-enhancing practices of civic policing.
I Loader, B Goold and A Thumala, 'Grudge Spending: The Interplay between Markets and Culture in the Purchase of Security' (2015) 63 The Sociological Review 858
In the paper, we use data from an English study of security consumption, and recent work in the cultural sociology of markets, to illustrate the way in which moral and social commitments shape and often constrain decisions about how, or indeed whether, individuals and organizations enter markets for protection. Three main claims are proffered. We suggest, firstly, that the purchase of security commodities is a mundane, non-conspicuous mode of consumption that typically exists outside of the paraphernalia of consumer culture – a form of grudge spending. Secondly, we demonstrate that security consumption is weighed against other commitments that individuals and organizations have and is often kept in check by these competing considerations. We find, thirdly, that the prospect of consuming security prompts people to consider the relations that obtain between security objects and other things that they morally or aesthetically value, and to reflect on what the buying and selling of security signals about the condition and likely futures of their society. These points are illustrated using the examples of organisational consumption and gated communities. In respect of each case, we tease out the evaluative judgments that condition and constrain the purchase of security amongst organisations and individuals and argue that they open up some important but neglected questions to do with the moral economy of security.
I Loader, A Thumala and B Goold, 'Tracking Devices: On the Reception of a Novel Security Good' (2015) 15 Criminology & Criminal Justice 3
In this paper, we describe and make sense of the reception of a novel security good: namely, the personal GPS tracking device. There is nothing new about tracking. Electronic monitoring is an established technology with many taken-for-granted uses. Against this backdrop, we focus on a particular juncture in the ‘social life’ of tracking, the moment at which personal trackers were novel goods in the early stages of being brought to market and promoted as protective devices. Using data generated in a wider study of security consumption, our concern is to understand how this extension of tracking technology into everyday routines and social relations was received by its intended consumers and users. How do potential buyers or users of these novel protective devices respond to this novel security object? What is seductive or repulsive about keeping track of those for whom one has a duty or relationship of care? How do new tracking technologies intersect with – challenge, reshape or get pushed back by – existing social practices and norms, most obviously around questions of risk, responsibility, trust, autonomy and privacy? This paper sets out to answer these questions and to consider what the reception of this novel commodity can tell us about the meaning and future of security.
I Loader, B Goold and A Thumala, 'The Moral Economy of Security' (2014) 18 Theoretical Criminology 469
In this paper we draw upon our recent research into security consumption to answer two questions: First, under what conditions do people experience the buying and selling of security goods and services as morally troubling? Second, what are the theoretical implications of understanding private security as, in certain respects, tainted trade? We begin by drawing on two bodies of work on morality and markets (one found in political theory, the other in cultural sociology) in order to develop what we call a moral economy of security. We then use this theoretical resource to conduct an anatomy of the modes of ambivalence and unease that the trade in security generates. Three categories organize the analysis: blocked exchange, corrosive exchange, and intangible exchange. In conclusion, we briefly spell out the wider significance of our claim that the buying and selling of security is a morally charged and contested practice of governance.
I Loader, B Goold and A Thumala, 'The Banality of Security: The Curious Case of Surveillance Cameras' (2013) 53 British Journal of Criminology 977
Why do certain security goods become banal (while others do not)? Under what conditions does banality occur and with what effects? In this paper we answer these questions by examining the story of closed circuit television cameras (CCTV) in Britain. We consider the lessons to be learned from CCTV’s rapid – but puzzling - transformation from novelty to ubiquity, and what the banal properties of CCTV tell us about the social meanings of surveillance and security. We begin by revisiting and reinterpreting the historical process through which camera surveillance has diffused across the British landscape, focussing on the key developments that encoded CCTV in certain dominant meanings (around its effectiveness, for example) and pulled the cultural rug out from under alternative or oppositional discourses. Drawing upon interviews with those who produce and consume CCTV, we tease out and discuss the family of meanings that can lead one justifiably to describe CCTV as a banal good. We then examine some frontiers of this process and consider whether novel forms of camera surveillance (such as domestic CCTV systems) may press up against the limits of banality in ways that risk unsettling security practices whose social value and utility have come to be taken for granted. In conclusion, we reflect on some wider implications of banal security and its limits.
ISBN: 0007-0955
I Loader, A Thumala and B Goold, 'A Tainted Trade? Moral Ambivalence and Legitimation Work in the Private Security Industry' (2011) 62 British Journal of Sociology 283
The private security industry is often represented – and typically represents itself – as an expanding business, confident of its place in the world and sure of its ability to meet a rising demand for security. But closer inspection of the ways in which industry players talk about its past, present and future suggests that this self-promotion is accompanied by unease about the industry’s condition and legitimacy. In this paper, we analyse the self-understandings of those who sell security – as revealed in interviews conducted with key industry players and in a range of trade materials – in order to highlight and dissect the constitutive elements of this ambivalence. This analysis begins by describing the reputational problems that are currently thought to beset the industry and the underlying fears about its status and worth that these difficulties disclose. We then examine how security players seek to legitimate the industry using various narratives of professionalization. Four such narratives are identified – regulation, education, association and borrowing – each of which seeks to justify private security and enhance the industry’s social worth. What is striking about these legitimation claims is that they tend not to justify the selling of security in market terms. In conclusion we ask why this is the case and suggest that market justifications are ‘closed-off’ by a moral ambivalence that attaches to an industry trading in products which cannot guarantee to deliver the condition that its consumers crave.
I Loader, B Goold and A Thumala, 'Consuming Security?: Tools for a Sociology of Security Consumption' (2010) 14 Theoretical Criminology 3
How does our understanding of private security alter if we treat security consumption as consumption? In this paper, we set out the parameters of a project which strives – theoretically and empirically – to do just this. We begin with a reminder that private security necessarily entails acts of buying and selling, and by indicating how the sociology of consumption may illuminate this central – but overlooked – fact about the phenomenon. We then develop a framework for investigating security consumption. This focuses attention on individual acts of shopping; practices of organizational security that individuals indirectly consume; and social and political arrangements that may prompt the consumption of, or themselves be consumed by, security. This way of seeing, we contend, calls for greater comparative enquiry into the conditions under which markets for security commodities flourish or founder, and close analysis of the social meanings and trajectories of different security goods. By way of illustration we focus on four such categories of good – those we term commonplace, failed, novel and securitized. The overarching claim of the paper is that the study of private security currently stands in need of greater conceptual and empirical scrutiny of what is going on when ‘security’ is consumed.
ISBN: 1362-4806
I Loader, 'Ice Cream and Incarceration: On Appetites for Security and Punishment' (2009) 11 Punishment and Society 241
In this paper, I set out a framework for investigating the relationship between contemporary consumer desires and practices and public demands for security and punishment. In so doing, I argue that punishment-centred public responses to crime, social disorder and terrorist threats (what has been termed penal excess) are today bound up with other, widespread social practices of excess. The paper takes the form of a reconstruction and critique of contemporary securitarian obsessions and proceeds as follows: I begin with a discussion of how the concept of excess (and its close cousins) has been and might potentially be applied to the social analysis of crime and crime control. I then make a case for understanding demands for security and punishment as an appetite and examine how the coupling of such appetites with identity, the market and the state can give rise to excessive, punitive, insecurity-reproducing penal practices. I conclude with some brief reflections on the ‘end’ of excess – both in terms of its corrosive, self-defeating effects and how one may seek to moderate or counteract them.
I Loader, 'Policing, Recognition and Belonging' (2006) 605 The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 201
DOI: 10.1177/0002716206286723
ISBN: 1552-3349

Report (4)

Other (19)

Edited Book (9)

Book (6)

I Loader and N Walker, Civilizing Security (Cambridge University Press 2007)
ISBN: 978-0-521-69159-8


Research programmes

Research projects

Research Interests

Policing and security; everyday in/securities; public sensibilities towards crime, order and justice; crime control and democratic politics; criminology and social and political theory.

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Criminology and Criminal Justice

Research projects