A factual comparison of the Criminal Justice system of England and Wales with that of the Netherlands, focussing on street crime, structures and policies. Abstract The criminal justice system of England and Wales is culturally very different to that of the Netherlands. For starters, England and Wales works in the Adversarial system, whereas the Netherlands uses the Inquisitorial system. England and Wales have 43 regional police forces, compared to the 25 Dutch forces. The main difference in these is that one is politically focussed and one is people focussed.
The laws in the both countries show some similarities and some differences. The relaxed drug laws in the Netherlands, for example, reflect their liberal lifestyle. In England and Wales, the implementation of 'talking' CCTV cameras shows their need for public protection. With completely different cultures, it is hard to see whether some laws from the Netherlands would work if applied in England and Wales, and vice versa. The Dutch police have a method of alternative policing, where instead of arresting the individual, they give them a 'community service'.
This idea proved effective and has been introduced to Torquay, in England. A recent example was when a man was caught urinating in a shop doorway. Instead of arresting him, the Police made him clean it up. This report explains how comparative reports and studies are important and why they are still widely being used as a way of updating and expanding on existing laws and regulations. This report takes an in-depth look into the Criminal Justice System of England and Wales, in comparison to that of a selected European state. The state I have chosen to look at is the Netherlands.
I will endeavour to investigate and evaluate the similarities and differences between both systems and their approaches to tackling crime and disorder, focussing on street crime such as drugs and prostitution. I will not only be making comparisons between laws and legislation, but the cultures and attitudes to criminal behaviour. Using statistics from referenced sources, I will aim to conclude whether one system works more efficiently than the other and if so, whether or not it should be taken upon by other countries. Why do we do comparative studies? There are many reasons for making comparative studies.
One of these reasons is to help us understand how others deal with criminals. This may prove vital if a foreigner commits a crime in our country. We would need to know how to punish them. In some cases, what is considered illegal in England and Wales may not be a criminal offense in the Netherlands, so it is crucial to understand the systems in other countries. Another reason is for best practise. Many criminal justice systems with have flaws, so by exploring alternative ways of tackling criminal behaviour, it is possible to build on new or existing rules and regulations, to improve the overall quality of Policing.
Also, as stated in Comparative Criminal Justice, Frances Pakes adds that "generally, the case of broadening ones horizon will always be a learning experience. " Methodology The information and data that has been collected for this report has come from a variety of, mainly secondary, sources. These include – the internet, books, journals, PowerPoint presentations and leaflets. See pages 16 and 17 for full reference list. Main discussion To set the basis for this report, it is necessary to explain the differences between Inquisitorial and Adversarial systems.
The inquisitorial system focuses on the notion 'search for truth'. In this system, which the courts basis is supported by, the courts have an independent judge and jury. The judge takes the major role in the courts and is given a case file before the court case, so they are aware of the background. There is no plea obtained from the defendant and the judge gives the verdict, therefore the trials based on this system are a lot faster. This is the system used in the Netherlands, where the prosecutors are also magistrates.
They are referred to as standing magistrates, as they present evidence in the court, whereas the Judges are referred to as sitting magistrates. Adversarial focuses more on a 'search for proof' and relates to the saying 'innocent without reasonable doubt. ' In these court systems, the Judge has no prior knowledge of the case. There is a jury of 12 members of the public, selected at random. They usually serve in the more major crimes such as murder, rape, burglary or assault, tried in the Crown Courts. The witnesses also give evidence and can be cross examined, such as in England and Wales.
The barristers in a crown court are usually trained in psychology or have some sort of psychological background. Although they cannot pressure witnesses, they are able to tactfully undermine them and without them realising, they are able to change their minds. An example of this is the case of Dimelo Taylor, in which one witness's evidence was exempt from court due to her breakdown. It is often argued that if a Judge already has details on the case, they may have already made up their mind. If the Judge only hears what is said in court, he must base his verdict on the facts given.
However, not all case information is given in court, but may be in the report, therefore it can be an advantage to read the report prior to the trial. England and Wales have 43 police forces which, as stated on the UK Home Office website, employ over 140,000 police officers, 78,000 police staff and 15,600 Police Community Support Officers. This also includes 14,500 special constables, which are unpaid, voluntary workers. Their core tasks include reducing crime rates and keeping them low, maintaining legal public behaviour, protecting the general public and investigating criminal behaviour.
Since 1994, The Dutch Police has consisted of 25 regional police forces and the National Police Service Agency. The size of each force is dependant on different varying factors. These include the population and level of crime in that area. There are between 600-6000 officers in each. Each of these forces is divided into districts and sub divisions, the largest of these being Amsterdam with a population of 900,000. This city is assigned 5000 out of the total 54,000 Policing staff. There is also a Police Support Body and Police Academy.
The core tasks of the Netherlands Police are patrolling the streets, maintaining public order; being responsible to the local mayor, investigating criminal offenses and dealing with emergencies. Training in both countries is similar, but they do have some major differences. A big part of the UK training to be in the Police force is fitness. Trainees must meet a given standard or they will fail the whole application. The lowest rank is a Special constable. These are voluntary and unpaid positions in which members of the public can do their bit to help reduce crime. They can work as little as 4 hours a week.
Police community support officers (PCSOs) are the next rank. They are paid and have the same rights and responsibilities as Police Officers, but their roles are different. They work mainly with the general public to reduce local crime and help run programmes with youth groups to prevent criminal behaviour in certain areas. A Police officer deals with more dangerous crimes in larger areas. They then can progress to Constable, Sergeant, Inspector, Chief Inspector, Superintendent, Chief Superintendent, Commander, Deputy Assistant Commander, Assistant Commissioner, Deputy Commissioner and finally Commissioner if they wish to progress that far.
In the Netherlands, where the criminal justice system has been modelled after that of the French, 95% of Police training is given in the English language. They start as a Voluntary Police Officer, much like the Special constables in the UK. They can then apply to be an Assistant Police Officer, before progressing to Police Officer. The next rank is All-round Police Officer, followed by the Batchelor of Policing which takes 3-4 years. The final rank is Master of Science in Policing. The training system is obviously far more thorough in the Netherlands with more opportunities for promotion.
There are many differences in the England and Wales vs. Netherlands systems of fighting crime, but it does not mean that one is right and one is wrong. As mentioned previously, the differences allow each force to reflect on their rules and regulations and to improve them if an alternative method proves to have better results. However, what works in one culture may not have the same effect if applied to another. Surprisingly, the drug and prostitution crime rates in the Netherlands are low. The Dutch view on drug abuse is a lot more liberal and relaxed than of that in the UK.
Drug abuse is tackled by the Ministry of Health as opposed to the Ministry of Justice as it is in the UK. Since 1976, the Dutch laws allow the use of Cannabis as a controlled, soft drug. Possession and production of the substance are finable offences, however, according to their condolence policy, issued by the Dutch Ministry of Justice; one will not be prosecuted for the possession of a maximum amount of five grams of cannabis, intended for personal use. Also, a maximum of 5 plants can be grown without being prosecuted. In 1991, there were 4,261 criminal drug offenses. Of these 4,261, only 681 were soft drug offenses.