Handbook of Criminology

Besides the policies that were passed in 1998 and 1999, there have been recent policy efforts to further transform the criminal justice system. There was a White Paper, Justice for All in 2003 that proposed different measures in reforming the criminal justice system in the United Kingdom and Wales (Tarling, Davison & Clarke, 2004). This policy generated a lot of controversy within the United Kingdom, and considerable opposition from human rights activists and lawyers who opposed many of the proposals within the policy.

It also generated interest in other countries around the world who have also been involved in changing their justice systems. These proposals were incorporated in a bill that would await passage by the parliament. The year 2003 can be marked as the year of almost complete overhaul to long-standing principles and procedures that have underpinned the criminal justice system. Many other nations around the world have used the United Kingdom as a model for their criminal justice systems.

They have therefore built their own precedents and procedures on the United Kingdom, acclimatising them for their own different societies (Newburn, 2002). Sir Robin Auld, a senior and respected Lord Justice of the Court of Appeal in 2000 was requested to take a comprehensive review of the criminal justice system and come up with suggestions on how it should be improved. He carried out serious consultations, getting opinions from all stakeholders in the society, and drawing on effective global experiences. His work resulted in (Review of the Criminal Justice System of England and Wales (October 2001) (Wilcox & Hoyle, 2004).

This however did not please all the players in the criminal justice system, even some of the people who would have been expected to share his opinion. Nevertheless, his review was welcomed by the government, which the following year and following further consultations came up with the White Paper ("Justice for All", Cmnd 5563) providing its proposal for reform (Wilcox & Hoyle, 2004). Further consultations in sentencing reform produced ("Making Punishments Work: report of a review of the sentencing framework in England and Wales" (2001) by John Holladay) were included in the proposals and afterwards in the Criminal Justice Bill.

After consulting even further and adding into the recommendations that were made by Auld, there were comprehensive recommendations for changes to the criminal justice system as well as the courts in dealing with both adult and juvenile offenders. Following the announcement of the proposals by the government, it was announced that the required funds to bring some of the more reasonable were not simply going to be availed. This meant that some of the proposals besides those that were going to save money would not see the light of the day (Wandersman & Florin, 2003).

Every passing year, the justice system has been anticipated to accommodate new policies to meet the undisputed challenges that the society brings (Smith, 2003). One of the policy that the government has incorporated into the criminal justice system has proposed the erosion of the right of the accused to remain silent under questioning by the police by letting a judge or jury to come up with adverse inferences from an accused person's silence in interview, and by letting the prosecution to comment on the same, as well as any failure by the accused to produce evidence (Morris & Maxwell, 2003).

A person who has already been put in custody can currently be needed to give samples for scientific assessment, and in other cases they can be taken by force. The right of the accused person to view evidence in possession of the prosecution that may assist him in the case may be dependant on his willingness to give to the prosecution, in sufficient time prior to his court appearance, what is referred to as a "defence case statement" detailing the nature of defence during the trial. It also sets out any matter on which the defendant makes issue with the prosecution.

In many areas of investigation, there has not always been impartiality. The defendant's right to get scientific evidence has been restricted by the compliance of the funding party to agree to such an investigation (Morris & Maxwell, 2003). In 2001, Sir Iain Glidewell led a commission into the operations of CPS. This resulted into a decentralisation of the service approximately corresponding to the 43 police districts in the United Kingdom and Wales. This move resulted in enhanced motivation and greater local accountability following an era of low motivation and service stagnation.

However, a lot remains to be achieved in reforming the CPS into a contemporary agency that operates on behalf of the public, but there are indications that the changes are factual, and more legal representatives are seeing the prosecution agency as an avenue where they are ready to make a career (Morris & Maxwell, 2003). Effectiveness of the policies The policies have not been completely effective in crime prevention among the young people in that there are various factors that need to be considered and have been left out.

For instance, the interaction between poor neighbourhoods and personal, family and peer factors are in a better position of explaining high rate of juvenile offenders in areas of low economic status. There is also a very strong association between crime rates, areas of low economic status and violent crime (Tilley, 2001). This is due to the deprivation of social cohesion and social controls that act as sustaining factors in the society (Morris and Maxwell, 2003). The environment has also been considered a factor in crime rate among the youth.

The policies that have so far been put in place have not been very effective in prevention of crime and anti-social behaviour among the young people. This is due to the fact that they have not been able to incorporate all the factors that contribute to the high rate of crime among the young people. Researches that have been carried out as far as crime prevention among the young people is concerned have emphasised on the relationship between individual's history, social experience and structural factors.

This is due to the agreement that crime is aggravated by lack of significant social structures. It is only through the incorporation of all the factors into the criminal justice system that the policies can be effective in reducing the number of juvenile offenders as well as recidivism (Wandersman & Florin, 2003). Conclusion The criminal justice system has experienced a lot of improvement in the last two decades especially as far as dealing with young offenders, who have been on the increase.

There has been less judicial discrimination, victims have received more support and consideration, prisons have become safer and with better and more humane living conditions, progress in the rates of reoffending among long-term detainees, and a great decline in vehicle crime and burglary, crimes most common with juveniles. These great changes have been contributed by government policies, as well as increased professionalism in the services and enhanced crime prevention. However, there are still some levels of confusion in the courts, particularly concerning trial and sentencing of the young offenders.

There are also aspects of constant crisis in the prison system and ongoing demand for changes in the law enforcement and the penal code. With incorporation of all the important factors into the policies, reduction of crime among the young offenders will be realised.

References:

Newburn, T. (2002). 'Young people, crime and youth justice', in M. Maguire, R. Morgan and R. Reiner (eds) The Oxford Handbook of Criminology, Oxford: Oxford University Press Marshall, T. F. (1996). 'The evolution of restorative justice in Britain', European Journal of Criminal Policy and Research 4(4): 21-43.