Last Updated 06 Jan 2022

Miscarriages of Justice

Category Crime, Police, Terrorism
Words 1732 (7 pages)
Views 543

“It’s a general problem not specific to the law of the United Kingdom a criminal justice system characterized by an emphasis on crime control rather than due process will inevitably produce miscarriage of justice. ” In an imaginary world the law would always give the correct results but in a real world it’s the other way. When they don’t which way do they tend to err? Which way do we want to err? We want the law to err on the side of acquitting guilty people rather than convicting ones.

It is generally accepted that the price of a fair Criminal Justice System will be acquittal on a technicality of those who have committed criminal offences or because of a failure of evidence, where as conviction of the innocent is never acceptable and should it arise speedy measures should be taken to rectify the injustice. The criminal law must be enforced efficiently by the agencies to police the criminal law.

There are two main values that influence the criminal Justice System, the crime control model which focuses to free society from crime and the due process model which focuses on individual liberties to be protected. The crime control model ensures that a civilized society can protect all of its citizens from victimization by criminals. But whether this has happened is questionable because when the Criminal Justice System is tilted more towards crime control there is a chance of an innocent person being convicted of a crime he never committed thus forming a miscarriage of justice.

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In recent times countries like United Kingdom, America, Canada and Ireland have tilted more towards crime control mainly because of the terrorist attacks that shook those nations. Moreover the racial attitude in the police and also in the society has led the crime control to be harsh on the society. The miscarriages that happen maybe due to discriminatory police practices, it may be due to incompetent scientific evidence or the over-reliance of the court on expert testimony. Where mistakes, made by those who have power within the process so this power when abused can have critical consequences.

The protection of innocent remains fundamental to the process of justice and for many the sole purpose, it should not be absolute according to Ashworth (1998). The acquittal of guilty persons can also be seen as a miscarriage of justice. The process of justice is one marked by the use of agency and individual discretion, most notably by the police. Both the due process and crime control models allow for that discretion, although the former does seek legislative means for reducing its use and influence.

The crime control model relies on presumption of guilt, the recognition that victims should have more rights than the accused, belief that prison and other punishment must be unpleasant in order to work, belief that sentences must be long to protect the public and belief that keeping order on the street is more important than following the letter of the law. The crime control model is about focusing the purpose of the Criminal Justice Process on the demands of the majority of citizens who are law abiding.

It seems clear that the current Criminal Justice Process was designed for the much lower level of crime that existed in the past and is too bureaucratic, time consuming and inefficient to deal effectively with the sheer volume of crime that now exists. This system demands a high level of informal fact finding, the case is dealt with outside of the formal court setting as much as possible. The model rightly assumes that offenders “rights are less important than victim rights and justice is for the majority of law abiding citizens not for the minority of repeat offenders.

This model of justice accepts that there will be a few aberrant cases where the innocent are convicted, but this is justified by the notion that crime control overwhelmingly achieves the greater good for the majority. At the international level miscarriage of justice is the subject of norms but its meaning is imprecise. Lord Phillip and Brown presume ‘the man on the street would define ‘miscarriage of justice’ as the conviction of the innocent. It was stated in the Court of Appeal case of Exp.

Bateman(1994) that man might define the term more broadly, to include those convicted when they should not have been. In countries the policing the law we see that more power has been vested in the police which is one reason for the crime control model to cause miscarriages of justice. Specially in America after the 9/11 terrorist attack the government has taken measures to prevent crimes as much as possible. The 9/11 attack not only influenced the government but influence the society to look at people an a suspicious way.

For example after the 9/11 attack a muslim person, with his beard and his dress code, walks in the street with a bag on his hand or back, people look at him as if he is a terrorist with a bomb. This view of society should change for it is society that subjects the police and the government to undue pressure. In 2005 the terrorist attack in London (7/7) killed 56 people and 700 were injured. This was the largest and deadliest terrorist attack in London in history. It is clear that law enforcement agencies powers have increases with the statutes that have been implemented.

The Terrorist Act 200 created a power to carry out blanket stop and searches. The Anti- Terrorism Crime and Security Act 2001 introduced new powers for the Treasury to freeze terrorist funds and control orders on terrorist suspects can be imposed under the Terrorism Act 2005. The Terrorist Act 2006 gives police the power to detain terrorist suspects up to 28 days. Not only the acts gave the police powers but it always helped them misuse it. The Police Reform Act 202 supplements existing police powers which follow the established trend towards broadening powers of law enforcement agencies and diluting the safeguards for the suspect.

The ‘war on terror’ is now a common feature of crime prevention and detection in United Kingdom. Police appear to tour the streets in far greater numbers than they did prior to 9/11 and 7/7 attacks. More over there is an issue as to an ethnic minority in the law enforcement agencies. Local communities, where those being policed have felt for some years that powers possessed by the police have become too intrusive and are being used in a discriminatory way to target particular groups within the community.

Research has shown that that Black and Asian people are more likely to be stopped under the provisions of the Terrorism Act 2000 than white people. When police powers are increased for the protection of citizens from terrorist attack they need to be employed even more carefully to ensure that citizens do not become as vulnerable to the police as they do to the terrorist attack. However increased powers of policing maybe necessary to contain the threat of terror and to ensure national security is maintained.

Recent cases have showed that where police and other agencies have made a mistake or has been misused their powers there has been a miscarriage of justice. In Dabilola Taylor’s case it was observed how lack of techniques and skills on the part of the investigating officers resulted in bringing to justice who killed Dabilola. In Stephen Lawrence case it was proved that there was racism in the police force. In Confait it was revealed that the conviction based on confession had been made subject to oppression. Jean

Charles de Menezes was shot by the Metropolitan Police armed forces who believed he was a terrorist but later found out he was not. Moreover the changes that have been taken place within the statutes also may cause a miscarriage of justice. In Sam Hallam’s case the witness’s evidence was not inconsistent with the earlier evidence. The long standing rule at common law was that where a witness’s testimony in court was inconsistent with a previous statement, it could not be treated as evidence as to the truth of its contents. Juries could not take account of the contents of such statements in reaching their verdict.

This rule was changed by section 119 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 which now allows previous inconsistent statements to be admitted in evidence. Reforms and recommendations have been implemented to reduce the rate of crime and not let an innocent person be guilty of a crime he never committed. The Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996 came into force The CCRC is charged with reviewing convictions and sentences referring them to the appropriate court if it finds a “real possibility” that the court will judge a conviction unsafe or a sentence excessive.

The CCRC covers England Wales and Northern Ireland and receive almost 1000 new applications each year. One could say that the implementation of the CCRC has been a big impact because it gives the proper result. The CCRC first review was that of Derek Bentley where the Court of Appeal quashed the conviction unsafe, which was a victory for the commission but not for Derek Bentley, who was hung way back in 1953. The commissions do produce good result but the fact is that it takes a long time to deliver the goods.

Many reforms have been implemented in recent years have eliminated or significantly reduced the number of wrongful convictions arising as a result of or permitted because of lax procedures, notably Police and Criminal Evidence Act and the rules on the disclosure of evidence by the Crown. According to Roskill report crime control strategies tend to stress towards The English System has been charactarised in some ways by the move from crime control to due process over the last 15-20 years. It is notable that the society wants to be free of crime and also they need their liberties to be protected but it is hard thing to achieve.

All of human activity, the criminal justice included is imperfect and sadly justice will not always prevail. Some of the causes are beyond the criminal justice agencies or even the content of procedural rules and substantive law. As the cases show the crime control model does causes more miscarriage of justices. Therefore it is rightly to conclude that a criminal justice system characterized by an emphasis on crime control rather than due process will inevitably produce miscarriages of justice.

Miscarriages of Justice essay

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