1. How has the traditional organisation of policing been challenged by political and private interests?
Examining this question requires you to understand the basic organisation of police governance, with power divided between Chief Constables or the Commissioner of police, the Home Office (the Government Department responsible for policing) and Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs). The question invites you to consider the extent to which some aspects of the organisation have become politicised; specifically, PCCs are elected officials who often campaign along political party lines. As PCCs are linked to local political associations your answer might explore the risk that they prioritise their political objectives over the efficiency of policing. Furthermore, we now see increasing use of private security and other forms of privatisation within the policing system, challenging the traditional view of crime control as being the preserve of the state.
2. Why does adversarial justice require the CPS to take part in the disclosure of evidence process?
In traditional adversarial trials, in which there are two competing sides (the defence and the prosecution), there was a risk that evidence was being suppressed because each side only wanted to present evidence that would be favourable to their case. As a result, a system of disclosure of evidence was introduced by the Criminal Procedure and Criminal Investigations Act 1996. This means that the CPS is obliged to disclose evidence, even if it undermines the police case (and vice versa on the part of defence lawyers). This might seem like an indisputably positive change, but it has been criticised on various fronts, and is a major issue for the CPS, with an increasing number of prosecutions collapsing because of their failure to disclose evidence.
3. In what ways do civil and criminal courts differ in their approaches to the provision of justice?
Central to answering this question is an appreciation that civil and criminal justice are different. The main issue to consider is that civil courts are not there to punish; their main aim is to resolve disputes and – as far as is possible via financial compensation – to put the injured party back in the position they would have been in had the harm not occurred. By contrast, the criminal courts are there to deliver justice, via handing out some form of punishment to the offender if convicted, and to protect society by maintaining order.
4. Explain the term ‘mass supervision’ and outline its implications for an offender on probation or a community sanction
This question requires you to consider the extent to which non-custodial sentences are used more than custodial sentences, and the marked increase in supervision in recent years. In order to appreciate the potential implications of this for offenders, it will help to explore the consequences for staff in the form of increased workloads and the challenges of effectively managing the volume of offenders. For example, probation work is supposed to include rehabilitation, but how might the above issues affect the service’s ability to deliver this?
5. Explain the term ‘mass incarceration’ and outline its implications for both public and private sector prisons.
In addressing this question, you should identify the increase in prison populations in recent decades such that prison has been said to be in crisis for some time now. Your answer might explore the extent to which use of prison has become a default or overused option in criminal justice. You might also explore the concept of overcrowding in prisons which potentially means that prisons primarily operate as places to incarcerate individuals rather than being places of rehabilitation that are intended to reduce reoffending.