British Criminal Justice System Term Paper

Pages: 5 (1568 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 3  ·  Level: College Sophomore  ·  Topic: Criminal Justice  ·  Buy This Paper

Criminal justice system of Britain embraces a range of agencies, cultures and objectives. From the police through the courts, and from the prison systems to victim services, all agencies have a goal to reduce crime and punish the guilty. However, within each agency, specific objectives exist, and embrace numerous cultural differences. This paper will discuss the various agencies involved in the British Criminal justice system, the objectives of each, and the ways in which those agencies work together to embrace a wide range of cultures within the British society.

First, the responsibility for the criminal justice system is shared by three main governmental departments, those of the Home Office, which deals with criminal law, police, prisons, and probation, the Lord Chancellor's Department, which deals with judiciary and Higher Courts, and the Attorney General's Office, which supervises the Crown Prosecution Service, responsible for prosecuting nearly all criminal cases (Chapman and Niven, 2000, 7).

Each governmental department oversees a variety of agencies, each of which has specific objectives within the criminal justice system

The Home Office, or HO, directly oversees national and local police functions, as well as various district authorities, the prison services, and the Criminal Injuries Compensation scheme and Victim Support services. The district authorities directly oversee the operations of three agencies, those of Local Magistrate's Court Committees, local police authorities, and local Probation Committees. The Local Magistrate's Court Committees directly oversee the operations of Magistrate's Courts, consisting of 328 divisions in England and Wales. The local police authorities directly oversee operations of the 43 police service districts. The Probation Committees oversee probation services (Chapman and Niven, 2000, 8).

The Lord Chancellor's Department oversees the Legal Aid Board, Court Service, and the Judiciary and Magistracy agency officials. The Legal Aid Board oversees the Legal Aid agency, responsible for the fees related to defense attorney representation in criminal cases. The Court Service oversees the Crown Courts, of which there are 78 within England. Judiciary and Magistracy agency officials oversee the Crown Courts, as well as Local Magistrate Court Committees. These Committees oversee Magistrates' Courts (Chapman and Niven, 2000, 8). Finally, the Attorney General's Office oversees the Serious Fraud Office and the Crown Prosecution Service (Chapman and Niven, 2000, 9).

As mentioned, all agencies of the criminal justice system share a common set of governmental directed aims. The first aim is to reduce crime and the resulting social and economic costs of those crimes. The objectives of this aim are to reduce the level of actual crime and disorder, to reduce the impact of crime on individual's lives, and to reduce the economic costs of crime to society. The second aim is to distribute justice efficiently and to promote civil confidence in the system. The objectives of this aim are to ensure just processes, to deal with cases with appropriate speed, to meet the needs of victims and other participants within the system, to respect the rights of defendants, and to promote confidence in the criminal justice system (Chapman and Niven, 2000, 2).

In addition to the above objectives, however, each individual agency adheres to their own set of objectives specific to their role within the criminal justice system. The police, both on a national and a local level, have objectives related to the reduction of crime directly. The police force's objective is to target the most prolific, anti-social, and harmful offenders in an effort to remove potentially dangerous offenders from the communities. Additionally, the police forces are responsible for keeping order within their regions, tackling hate crimes, drug crimes, and other forms of criminal behavior. Additionally, more specialized forces, such as the National Crime Squad, have specific objectives, such as the reduction of organized crime and the redistribution of monies from crime (SOCA, 2006, 9).

The Crown Prosecution Service, responsible for the prosecution of criminal cases in Britain, also has their own objectives. These include attempting to deal with prosecution cases in an efficient manner and in cooperation with other government agencies. Additionally, this agency attempts to ensure that charges are brought to court with enough evidence and proper charges, as determined through a complete review of cases. Further, this agency aims to prosecute cases in such a way as to allow courts the ability to reach just decisions, as well as to meet the needs of victims and witnesses (Chapman and Niven, 2000, 16).

The court system also has specific objectives, but it is important to first understand the structure of the court system. The lowest court is the Magistrates' Court. Anyone convicted in this court can appeal to the High Court, then to the Crown Court, next to the Court of Appeal, and finally to the House of Lords. These three divisions make up the Supreme Court of the criminal justice system. The objective of the court system is to distribute just and fair decisions in all cases, to recognize the rights of defendants and witnesses, and to deal with cases in a timely manner (Auld, 2001, 8).

Probation services also have their own set of objectives. These include advising the court on suitable sentences, the adequate supervision of offenders in the community, and a general protection of the public through a reduction of recidivism through punishment and rehabilitation of offenders (Chapman and Niven, 2000, 22). In addition, the probation services agency aims to provide fair, accessible, appropriate, and effective delivery of probationary services (National Probation Service, 2003, 6).

Finally, the prison system within the criminal justice system has objectives directly related to the protection of the public through the incarceration of criminals. This agency has two primary objectives. First, the prison system protects the public by incarcerating those sentenced by the courts in a safe, healthy, and rehabilitative environment. Secondly, the prison system aims to reduce crime by providing constructive management of inmates in a way that addresses criminal behaviors, improves the education and work skills of inmates, and promotes a respect for law abiding behaviors (Chapman and Niven, 2000, 25). These objectives are overseen by Independent Monitoring Boards, or groups of volunteers, who report on prison conditions to the Home Secretary (IMB News, 2006, 28).

As each of these agencies seeks to meet their own objectives as well as those given by the government, each also must embrace a variety of cultures in order to achieve true confidence in the system. In an effort to do this, many agencies have developed specialized programs to identify issues of culture, and develop solutions to problems these varied cultures may present. Nearly all agencies have developed such programs.

The National Probation Service is one such example. This agency realizes the need to "reflect the diversity of the communities...particularly the minority ethnic groups" and the need to "be sensitive to the language and cultures of minority groups." (National Probation Service, 2003, 23). In an effort to achieve this, the Service set forth objectives specific to cultural support. The NPS has made efforts to establish models of consultation with minority ethnic communities, know the make-up of local populations, ensure diversity issues and diverse individuals in the system are included in survey groups, ensure that minority groups are represented in community punishment project groups, and ensure that the group as a whole tackles such needs as community integration for minority defendants, social inclusion for this same group, and discrimination issues (National Probation Service, 2003, 24).

Another agency showing such a commitment to cultural diversity is the prison system of Britain. The Prison Service Race Equity Scheme clearly notes, "Improper discrimination on the basis of colour, race, nationality, ethnic or national origins, or religion is unacceptable." (HM Prison Service, 2005, 3). In an effort to achieve this, the system has put into place a number of programs designed to embrace ethnic and cultural diversity. These programs include translation services, ethnic diversity training for staff,… [END OF PREVIEW]

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