This volume examines Great Britain’s criminal justice system and changes in crime control polices and punishment, with emphasis on police practices, policies, and culture and the relationship of the police to the rest of the criminal justice system and with the formulation of law and policy.
The discussion begins with an account of the decision by the Lord Chief Justice of England in 1989 to set aside the convictions of the Guildford Four due to police misconduct. It also describes similar cases and the contrasting opinions on whether the British criminal justice system was the fairest in the world or a dishonest and repressive system loaded against defendants by means of false confessions and institutionalized malpractice. The text continues with discussions of issues related to race, social class, and justice; crime trends and patterns; public attitudes; and the use of plea negotiations, cautioning, and discontinuances as mechanisms of retreat from prosecution. Further chapters focus on organized crime, police occupational culture, and problems related to police misconduct and police discipline. The analysis concludes that the British criminal justice system is in crisis and that this crisis is not simply a matter of increasing demands on the system, although these demands have exacerbated the problem. Instead, the criminal justice system is failing in its first and most essential task: to separate factually guilty criminals from persons falsely accused. Thus, the system sends innocent persons to jail for life and cannot reliably bring offenders to justice, thereby failing to protect citizens from itself and from themselves. The analysis concludes that resolving the crisis will require reappraisal of the system’s institutional structures and underlying philosophy, rather than legislative tinkering or lurches in the direction of either due process or crime control. Index and chapter reference notes
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