This article uses empirical research on the implementation of risk assessment and risk management procedures by public protection panels in England and Wales, to assess how far the evidence supports claims of a broad shift in modes of crime control from penal modernism towards a new ‘risk penality’ characteristic of the late (or post-) modern period. The result is a mixed and contradictory picture, in which the dominant discourse around measures to deal with sexual and ‘dangerous’ offenders is in tune with this claim, but there are numerous aspects of agency culture and practice - for example, interest in the individual case, and the valuing of professional judgement above actuarial tools - which reflect the continuing strength of the ‘modernist’ project. There are, however, signs of a growing populist challenge to the modernist assumption that risk knowledge and management should be left to small groups of ‘experts’ working in secret. Overall, perhaps the strongest evidence of a shift towards new penal forms lies in (a) the emergence of new forms of partnership, driven by the ‘logic of risk’, and (b) the significant dispersal of accountability which has accompanied their development.
- sex offenders