Discuss how the criminal justice system achieves its aim to deliver ‘justice to all’
This essay will discuss both the aims and objectives of the agencies within the criminal justice system in (CJS) relation to maintaining the law and attaining justice, additionally describing relevant legislation, policy, and practice within the Criminal Justice System including how the criminal justice agencies achieve their aims. To fairly analyse whether the Criminal Justice System achieves justice, the concept of what definiens justice must be considered and the understanding that its definition can vary depending on each individual, for the purpose of this essay the ‘the fair and unbiased treatment of all individuals under the law’ (Collins Dictionary of Law, 2006)
Garside describes the CJS as a ‘technical set of responses’ put in place as a response to crime within modern society (2007). It is also considered to be a compilation of agencies charged with the creation and uphold of the law within England and Wales (Rowe, 2018) These agencies include the police, prison service, crown prosecution service (CPS), criminal courts, probation service, social workers, legal professionals, the judiciary, the jury and lay magistrates. All these agencies have individual roles and responsibilities but work under the aims and objectives of the CJS as a collective to ‘deliver justice to all’ through safeguarding the innocent and punishing the guilty, assisting them in the prevention of re-offending (Rowe, 2018). Whilst also working openly and being accountable to the public (Cps.gov.uk, 2018).
There are departments within the CJS which oversee multiple agencies, one of these being the ministry of justice (MOJ) which has charge over the courts, probation service, and prisons. The priorities of the MOJ are in the reduction of re-offending, the safety of the public and creating a justice system in which justice is swifter and more certain for everyone, eliminating any forms of discrimination (Ministry of Justice, 2012).
The courts deal trails, issues of bail, remand and the sentencing of offenders they fall into two main categories of magistrates’ court and crown court. Which court a case is held in depends on the severity and type of crime committed, whether it is an indictable offense and the if the defendant choices to plead guilty or innocent.
Summary offenses are mostly under the jurisdiction of the magistrate’s court with limited sentencing powers of six months for single offenses or 12 for multiple, magistrates sit in panels of between two and three and have the responsibility of hearing cases and deciding punishment adhering to the sentencing guidelines (Cammiss, 2013). Magistrates are made up of either professional, amateur or lay and the majority of which fall under the demographics of even though they do receive some training there is currently no legal requirement for them to be legally trained. In relation to ‘Justice to all’ this Dignan and Wynne asses the view of the historical view of magistrates being from the gentry and of a higher demographic suggesting that the composition of the bench is both politically and socially narrow (1997). This failure to have a balanced bench which represents the general population suggests that possibly the justice administered in magistrates’ court cannot be seen as fair and recounts the over-representation of the middle class (Cammiss, 2013).
The Home office is another department lead by the government that is responsible for immigration, counter-terrorism, crime and the police as well as other agencies. They are responsible managing issues caused using alcohol and illegal drugs, creating relevant licensing and policies ensuring safety from threats of terrorism, preventing and reducing crime, securing and controlling immigration and the UK border (Gov.uk, 2018). Their equality objectives outline,e a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to that discrimination of an individual due to their gender, disability, age, race, religion or any factor (Home Office, 2011).
The responsibilities of the police cover inquiries and investigation into an alleged crime, interviewing detainees, arrests, as well as stop and search, the aims of the police, are to produce service which is professional, accountable and in service to the common good (Newburn, 2013). Looking at combining the apprehension of offenders working to prevent crime and highlighting peaceful and co-operative community relationships, interacting and listening to the needs of everyone while supporting and protecting the vulnerable in our society.
In order to achieve it, personal aims and objectives as well as the overlying ‘justice for all’ The Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) was introduced in 1984 with the aim of ensuring every individual had the right to a fair trial, equality and the presumption of innocence (Gov.uk, 2018). Put in place to promote a balance between the right as an individual and the power given to the police. PACE outlines police powers through arrest, detention, interrogation, also entry and search of premises and stop and search. Codes of practice are included in the legislation which must be considered and referred to by police officers when carrying out many different aspects of their work (Neyroud, Loader, Brown and Muir, 2013)
When looking out the implementation of PACE and the Human Rights Act 1998, both of which must be considered when policing and ensure the rights of every individual, the CJS could be seen to adhere to the due process model (Packer, 1968), which the emphasis is on protecting the innocent even at the expense of the conviction of the guilty (Newburn, 2015). Due process consists of multiple obstructions which are put in place to form a set of safeguards to protect those who can and cannot be charged in relation to the facts found (Packer, 1968).
Justice through the certainty of guilt finding of facts is considered as an ‘obstacle’ course. The punishment of the guilty may not be achieved because of the due process model due to the restrictions and safeguards, which would mean justice may not be assured for all.
On the other side of due process is the crime control model which main values focus on the conviction of the guilty even at the cost of convicting some innocents (Newburn, 2013) with the instant presumption of guilt when someone is arrested and charge does not coincide with the aim to deliver ‘justice to all’ as it forgoes everyone’s rights an individuals or the unbiased treatment under the definition of justice.
The CPS plays an important part of the CJS working as an independent body in conjunction with the investigators, police, and courts. The aim of the CPS is to ensure a ‘high-quality prosecution service responding to the needs of victims and witnesses while maintaining public accountability’. The key principles of the CPS parallel those of other agencies within the CJS regarding making decisions fairly and without bias or discrimination. Making sure to act with ‘integrity and objectivity’ operating with confidence and solid judgment (Cps.gov.uk, 2018). The prosecutors hold the responsibility to ensure the prosecution of the correct person and offense in addition passing justice onto offenders where it is achievable in order to attain justice for victims, defendants, the public, and witnesses (Publications.parliament.uk, 2009). Prosecutors must operate within the principles of the Human rights act 1998, in all stages of a case such as guaranteeing that no one shall be exposed to inhuman, degrading treatment or punishment (Legislation.gov.uk, 1998).
In cases that have enough evidence to then begin the process of prosecution, the prosecutors must consider whether it is in the public interest, taking into account other things such as the culpability of the suspect the impact that the offense has had on the community and the harm caused to the victim (Publications.parliament.uk, 2009).
The agencies that make up the CJS all aim to achieve ‘justice for all’ aim to achieve justice to all focussing on objectivity sensitivity and eliminating discrimination this has all been apparent through the individual agencies as well as the CJS as a whole. This can also be seen through the implementation of policies and legislation that has been introduced into different agencies such as PACE 1984 and the HRA 1998 to achieve justice for all however as justice is a concept which differs depending on each individual justice for all may be too broad a statement for an individual system to achieve.