European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research

, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 253–266 | Cite as

Organised Criminals as “Agents of Obligation”: The Case of Ireland



Relying on Brown's (2005a, b) thesis that contemporary shifts in penal policy are best understood as a reprisal of colonial rationality, so that offenders become “non-citizens” or “agents of obligation”, this article argues, firstly, that this framework (with certain important refinements and extensions) finds support in developments in Irish criminal justice policy aimed at offenders suspected of involvement in “organised crime”. These offenders have found themselves reconstituted as “agents of obligation” with duties to furnish information about their property and movements, report to the police concerning their location and, importantly, refrain from criminal activity or face extraordinary sanctions. Secondly, it is submitted that this draconian approach to the control of organised crime is built on false premises; specifically the idea that “organised crime” as such exists and is best controlled through restrictions on the freedom of key groups or “core nominals”.


“Agents of obligation” Organised crime Punitiveness 



The author would like to acknowledge the assistance provided by the anonymous peer reviewer in the completion of this article. All errors remain the author’s own.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Lecturer in Criminology, Department of Social SciencesDublin Institute of TechnologyDublin 1Republic of Ireland

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