International Journal of Art & Design Education

Postcode Criminals (pages 275–287)

Volume 32.3   2013



Postcode Criminals was the second phase of an international participatory community arts project challenging negative stereotypes of urban youth. Concerned with the impact of zero tolerance community policing strategies in the UK and USA, artists Joann Kushner and Dread Scott developed an art-based project with a social justice agenda. To give voice to an under-represented group, the project invited high academic achievers with no history of criminal behaviour from economically and socially deprived urban communities to participate. Postcode Criminals focused on regions of Liverpool and New York, typically sites where community policing strategies had been in force for some time. The findings of this project reveal that relationships between young people, their communities and the police force have been damaged as a direct result of community policing strategies, despite the reported success in crime reduction figures. Fear of crime was found to be a greater problem in urban communities than crime itself. Young people's experiences of ‘ephebiphobia’, the fear of teenagers, were articulated, creating alternative, positive representations of themselves and providing a catalyst for improved community relations.