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– The purpose of this paper is to report results from a rape trial reconstruction in Ireland.
The purpose of this paper is to report results from a rape trial reconstruction in Ireland.
A studio audience of 100 members of the Irish public were selected to attend a TV programme by the Republic of Ireland’s national broadcasting organisation. This involved the examination of the sentencing of a rape case. The audience’s sentencing preferences were measured at the outset, when they had been given only summary information about the case, and later, when full details had been disclosed.
Previous research examining changes in public attitudes to crime and punishment has shown that deliberation, including the provision of new information and discussion with others and experts, tends to decrease public punitiveness and increase public leniency towards sentencing. An experiment in Ireland, however, showed that providing information does not invariably and necessarily moderate punitive attitudes. This paper presents the results, and offers some explanations for the anomalous outcome.
The pre/post design, in which the audience served as their own controls, is a weak one, and participants may have responded to what they took to be the agenda of the producers. Due to the quality of the sample, the results may not be generalisable to the broader Irish population.
Policy makers should recognise that the public is not uniformly punitive for all crimes. There is good research evidence to show that the apparent public appetite for tough punishment is illusory, and is a function of the way that polls measure public attitudes to punishment. Sentencers and those responsible for sentencing policy would benefit from a fuller understanding of the sorts of cases which illicit strong punitive responses from the public, and the reasons for this response. However any such understanding should not simply translate into responsiveness to the public’s punitive sentiments – where these exist. Innovative survey methods – like this experiment – which attempt to look beyond the top-of-the-head opinions by providing information and opportunities for deliberation should be welcomed and used more widely.
There have been limited research studies which reports factors which may increase punitiveness through the provision of information and deliberation.
In March, Pavilion and the University of Luton organised a conference ‐ Community Safety Five Years On. This article reviews the contributions of the speakers. It argues…
In March, Pavilion and the University of Luton organised a conference ‐ Community Safety Five Years On. This article reviews the contributions of the speakers. It argues for the need to embrace the wider social exclusion agenda and unless community safety becomes a working habit, it risks returning to the limited status of ‘crime prevention’.
This paper examines some possible reasons for what the author sees as a tendency for underperformance in some crime and disorder reduction partnerships (CDRPs) ‐ across…
This paper examines some possible reasons for what the author sees as a tendency for underperformance in some crime and disorder reduction partnerships (CDRPs) ‐ across England and Wales.
In the first study of its kind, researchers from King's College expose the consequences of reclassifying cannabis. Just how much time have the police saved, what does the…
In the first study of its kind, researchers from King's College expose the consequences of reclassifying cannabis. Just how much time have the police saved, what does the Bobby on the beat think about the change, and what would be the consequences if it were put back to Class B?
These four studies are clear testimony to the ‘rediscovery’ of the victims of crime that has occurred in the last two decades, following a long period of neglect by academics, practitioners, penal reformers and governments. Although the nominal origins of this revival of interest may be traced back to the somewhat earlier development of ‘victimology’ among a handful of European and North American criminologists investigating the contribution of victims to ‘their’ crimes, the major impetus came with the rapid growth of crime victimisation surveys in the 1970s. From the outset, these surveys revealed a huge pool of hidden victimisation, and indicated some of the reasons why victims chose not to report the crimes to the police. They subsequently began to focus on other aspects of the impact of crime, such as the extent of the fear of crime amongst members of the public, and the effects of crimes upon those who had been victimised. The first national British Crime Survey (BCS) did not take place until 1982 (with a second survey in 1984 and another planned for 1988), and incorporated comparative questions on these more qualitative aspects of victimisation. Data from the British Crime Surveys have been made available by the Home Office to other researchers and was drawn upon by Maguire and Corbett and by Mawby and Gill in their important reviews of the work of victims support schemes in Britain.
Procedural justice (PJ) during police-citizen interactions has often been portrayed as a “silver bullet” to good policing, as it could function as a means to gain trust…
Procedural justice (PJ) during police-citizen interactions has often been portrayed as a “silver bullet” to good policing, as it could function as a means to gain trust, voluntary obedience and public cooperation. PJ research is based on the assumption that there exists “true fairness.” However, it is still unclear what people actually mean when they evaluate the police as “fair” in surveys. By focusing the analysis to underexplored aspects of PJ, namely, the identity and political antecedents of the attribution of procedural fairness, the authors highlight the social and ideological reasons that influence people’s perceptions of police fairness. The paper aims to discuss these issues.
In order to explain the attribution of fairness of police, the study comprises a range of independent variables organized into five overarching domains: prior experience with police, victimization, socioeconomic status and (disadvantaged) context of residence, ethnicity and political attitudes and punitive values. The analysis is based on a representative sample of France, as well as a booster sample of a deprived, urban province (Seine-Saint-Denis) in order to better incorporate ethnic effects into the model (March 2011; n=1.498, 18+).
The present study finds support for the notion that aggressive policing policies (police-initiated contacts, e.g. identification checks, road stops) negatively impacts attributions of fairness to police. In addition, the findings show that attributions of fairness are not only interactional (i.e. related to what police do in any given situation) or related to individual cognitive phenomena, but for the most part pertain to broader social and political explanations. Political and ethnic cleavages are the key to understanding how police are judged by the public. The findings therefore question the nature of what is actually measured when fairness is attributed to police, finding that more punitive and conservative respondents tend to assess the police as fair. The authors find that the attribution of fairness seems to correspond to upholding the existing social order.
This study has limitations inherent to any cross-sectional survey and the findings pertain only to a single country (France). Furthermore, the authors did not analyze all possible confounding variables to perceived fairness.
The findings pose a practical problem for police and government to implement, as the authors ultimately find that there is no single recipe, or “silver bullet,” for being deemed fair across all social, ethnic and political groups – and, of course, the expectations of one group might conflict with those of another.
The study demonstrates that existing theory needs to better incorporate those explanations of fairness which extend beyond interactional processes with police, and refer instead to the social and political cleavages in society.
The ‘confidence agenda’ poses important new challenges for crime and disorder reduction partnerships in general and the police in particular. To date, the police have made…
The ‘confidence agenda’ poses important new challenges for crime and disorder reduction partnerships in general and the police in particular. To date, the police have made only limited use of new forms of social media and where they have been used, the police have yet to realise their full potential. New approaches are suggested that would increase their effectiveness. The challenge for the police will be to find a way to embrace the spirit of the new social media in such a way that the content that is developed is convincing and feels authentic to users.