About politics and making choices in crime control
Since the mid-1990s, criminologists have been increasingly critical about political decision-making in
crime control. They began focussing specifically on the emergence of populism, which, according to Roberts et al. (2003), refers to discourses in which the electoral advantage of a policy takes precedence over its effectiveness. Criminologists usually counter or mitigate populism by promoting a better balance between accountability on the one hand and effective crime control policies on the other. In this paper, however, we argue that the problem of political decision-making in crime control cannot be reduced to the problem of populist rhetoric and the negation of criminological expertise. What politicians experience, and increasingly so, is a loss of autonomy to define and settle issues in society because (i) politics is fragmented and displaced to fields that are usually not thought of as political, (ii) political decisionmaking is heteronomous, and (iii) political choices are very sensitive to recontextualization so that they are challenged more easily.