n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - Applied research : "In the belly of the beast"? : editorial

Volume 25, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1012-8093



Research is an essential component of any discipline. It contributes to the expansion of knowledge by, amongst others, developing and testing new theories, and facilitating insight to help solve problems. As is the case with other social sciences, a great deal of research is undertaken in the domains of Criminology, Policing and Security Studies, Penology, Victimology and Criminal Justice. One often wonders what happens to all the findings generated by these disciplines since research, as an academic endeavour, is expected to transform public policy and practices (Cherney & McGee, 2010: 157). It is argued that, because institutions of higher education receive funding from government, the knowledge which they generate should be used in organisations located outside of the scholarly and academic communities. A further tenet of this argument is that public policies must be evidence-based and that practices ought to be evaluated in an objective manner, a task generally expected of universities and independent research agencies (Amara, Ouimet & Landry, 2004: 76; Hillyard, Sim, Tombs & Whyte, 2004: 370). The ways in which social research can provide such a solid evidence-base are contested in terms of the types of evidence that are valued and in terms of the ways in which results are used in the policy-making process (Ritter, 2007: 70). Responses to crime and criminality necessitate strong policies and procedures to be effective. Given the high crime rate in South Africa, questions can rightfully be posed whether - and if so to what extent - the Criminological sciences are contributing to crime prevention and reduction policies and practices. From a critical perspective, it is equally important to ask whether the Criminological sciences should at all engage in applied, externally-funded research.

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