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CJT CRIMINAL JUSTICE TODAY

Jury’s Out? FEATURING: s ANTI-SOCIAL MEDIA s SOCIAL HARM s ‘POVERTY PAWN’ s WORKPLACE HARMS


The University Centre at Blackburn College is a hive of activity – an ideas factory. It is the second largest provider of higher education for a college in the UK and, in the past two years, one in five graduates have gained a first class honours degree. More than 90% are validated by Lancaster University, which is in the top 1% of universities in the world. On Foundation Degree courses there is an emphasis not only on learning, but also on employability – skills that build confidence and ability through work-based learning. Students have to undertake 120 hours of voluntary work in their chosen area per year to graduate from their course. By making university a ‘social project’, it can help to bridge the gap between academic study and the world of work. The Community Challenge project aims to take this further by opening up the

work of students’ within the college to the community at large so that they may also benefit from the learning that takes place. FDA students write an average of 40,000 words in their two years of study and honours degree students write 26,000 per year. For the most part, these assignments are seen by the author and the lecturers marking them; maybe the external verifier as well. Then they are filed away. This is where Criminology Today and Criminal Justice Today play a role. By students re-purposing the assignments they do to pass the course, we can create publications that can be accessed by fellow students, staff, community leaders, businesses and residents as well as other academic establishments. It is a fantastic way to showcase just some of the work that students do. So, welcome to the UCBC Ideas Factory…

the ideas factory 02


Glossy magazines usually feature fashion trends, beautiful models adorned with the latest designer wares and articles on skincare, cosmetics and far-flung holiday destinations. But while the pages of this glossy magazine may look attractive, its content is diametrically opposed to that of the magazines piled up in hairdressing salons and doctors’ surgeries. By wiping away the cosmetics, the true image of criminal justice in 2014 lies beneath. There is much to be drawn from the likenesses between the fashion industry and the criminal justice system. There are rules governing both, there are critics, rule-breakers, rebels. The media is obsessed with both and the public has a wide-eyed acceptance about what is ‘a la mode’. But whereas this publication may be styled on Vogue issues from the 1920s and 1930s, it is the legacy of Robert Ezra Park that has inspired the feel and content of this publication. Born in 1864, Park began his career in journalism on newspapers in Detroit, Minneapolis and New York. Park believed that a sociologist was ‘a kind of super-reporter, like the men who write for Fortune ...reporting on the long-term trends which record what is actually going on rather than what, on the surface, merely seems to be going on’. As an undergraduate, Park studied under John Dewey, who introduced him to Franklin Ford and together they planned a newspaper, The Thought News, as an effort to record public opinion. The idea never came to fruition, but after his sojourn into reporting, Park studied in Heidelberg with Georg Simmel, earning his PhD in 1904. But while it was his idea to report criminological and sociological matters, Criminal Justice Today, along with its sister publication Criminology Today, seeks to take his idea further and set the news agenda by utilising the work being undertaken by students at the University Centre at Blackburn College. The main aim of the project is to showcase the work being done at UCBC – repurpose students’ assignments and put them in the public domain. This project echoes the sentiments of Robert Park who said: “My experience as a reporter led me to study the social function of the newspaper, not as an organ of opinion but a record of current events. In fact, with a group of others of the same mind I started out to reform the newspaper, by making it more accurate and scientific, something like Time and Fortune. I think my principal theoretic interest is still the newspaper as a social institution.” Please enjoy reading this issue of Criminal Justice Today and let us know what you think by filling in the survey (details on the back page).

Victoria Duffy Editor

criminal justice today

editorial comment

CJT CRIMINAL JUSTICE TODAY

Jury’s Out? FEATURING: s ANTI-SOCIAL MEDIA s SOCIAL HARM s ‘POVERTY PAWN’ s WORKPLACE HARMS

contents Can you say whatever you want on social media?

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Is the jury out on juries?

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Is our society harming us?

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Are our high streets being regenerated or degenerated?

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Is work damaging your health?

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Anti-social media? Should you be able to say whatever you by Victoria Duffy want on social media? In the past four years there has been an 800% increase in the number of crimes using social media. There have also been several high profile cases of people being sent to prison for publishing defamatory or abusive messages on such forums. These include Liam Stacey who was sent to prison for 56 days for posting racist tweets about footballer Fabrice Muamba following his collapse from a heart condition; and Matthew Woods who was sent to prison for 12 weeks for posting offensive and sexually explicit comments about missing children on Facebook. An online survey attracted 40 regular users of social networking sites Facebook and Twitter who gave their views and attitudes towards Freedom of Speech and Expression, people who post comments of an offensive nature and whether people should be sent to prison for such remarks. Of these, 76.92% used social media more than once a day and 25.64% very often commented on other posts. Of those who took part, 20.51% had been the recipient of an offensive remark and 22.5% agreed that those who post offensive comments should receive prison sentences. There was significant support (61.54%) for the idea that companies such as Twitter and Facebook could do more to moderate their sites and 85% disagreed with the

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notion that European laws should be used to excuse offensive remarks. Perhaps the most important response was that 60% were either were unaware or did not know the laws governing defamation and libel in terms of social media. To gain a deeper understanding of social media use, the survey information was coupled with a detailed interview with prolific Twitter user and self-styled ‘troll’ Old Holborn, who gave his views on Freedom of Expression and Speech and writing within the confines of existing laws. Old Holborn describes himself as a comedian, political satirist and Libertarian who Tweets and writes a blog, which, he says, is accessed by seven million and five million per week respectively. The interview with Old Holborn would initially appear to support the Social Identity Theory of Deindividualisation, about which Festinger et al (1952) theorised that ‘inner controls are lost when people are no longer seen or considered as individuals’ (cited in Williams, 2008 p.292). Reichter et al (1995) and Postmes and Spears (1998) put forward the notion that individuals have two identities – personal identity and social identity. On the surface, it could be argued that Old Holborn uses anonymity to make offensive comments, but a quick search on the internet reveals his name and personal details. This, therefore, undermines the notion of deindividualisation. Having said that, it could be argued that

although his Old Holborn profile is easily unmasked, he says there are around 200 other people operating under the same pseudonym. Could this be deindividualisation on a grand scale? Or could it be argued that it supports Valier’s collectivity theory, that the internet bringing together people with common views. It would be difficult to trace every single Old Holborn, but they are united in their common antiauthoritarian views. He also says that Twitter has closed down his account 31 times, but this has not put him off. He has opened new account after new account and continues to attract a huge number of followers. His current profile on Twitter has 5,882 followers. With a crude calculation – times this number by the approximate 200 Old Holborn accounts – it could be suggested that this Libertarian message is reaching 1,176,400 people. Added to this, Old Holborn says that he would continue to spread his message without anonymity, but as this has yet to be evidenced this comment would have to be taken at face value. It could also be argued that he has received a significant level of media attention and notoriety thus supporting the notion of having two distinct identities – personal and social. Looking at the costume, which he had worn in public, such as Cambridge General election hustings in 2010, this further supports the idea that Old Holborn uses his social identity to gain attention, perhaps to shock and offend. This could be said to support Valier’s collectivity theory


and Short’s notion of motivation and gain, wouldn’t actively follow him on Twitter. in that his costume increases interest in That said, Old Holborn says that attempts his message. have been made to take him to court over comments he has made on Twitter. He Old Holborn said: “Ever since I’ve had a states: “Freedom begins with the right to message, I’ve had a pseudonym. Attack speak and express yourself without fear of the message, not the man. The anonyprosecution.” He added that Freedom of mous voice is the most powerful of all.” Expression is a right under Article 10 of the This could be seen as a 21st Century interEuropean Human Rights Act. pretation of the theory of deindividualisation, which was updated in 1995 before the And to protect his own Freedom of Expresinternet became as well-used and before sion he says he would go to prison, if necsocial networking sites had been invented. essary, adding: “What are we without the ability to speak our minds freely?” It could be argued that it is unlikely that his followers find the content or the Old This is diametrically opposed with the reHolborn views offensive otherwise they spondents of the online survey, 85% of

whom said that Article 10 should not be used an excuse to post offensive or distasteful remarks. But the notion of offence is a grey area. Old Holborn says that under Freedom of Expression legislation people are allowed to be ‘rude, offensive, shocking, disturbing, satirical, iconoclastic and distasteful’. However, 79.49% of the online survey respondents had not had any offensive remarks made to them. Old Holborn says that he ‘could not care less’ if people find his views offensive, adding: “They have the power to ignore me, time they used it. If you find my views of-

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born knows exactly what the law states about defamation and libel and the European laws governing Freedom of Expression. This is in Participants in the online survey direct conflict with the results of were asked what they thought of the online survey in which 60% eipeople who make offensive com- ther said they were not aware of ments on social networking sites. the laws surrounding defamation The main theme was that ‘trolls’ and libel or said they didn’t know. and those who make offensive remarks are cowardly, but among the In terms of prison sentences, other answers were: ‘sad’, ‘they are opinion was divided. In the survey, cowards’, ‘attention-seeking’, ‘lack 57.5% of respondents felt that it of confidence’, ‘generally imma- would depend on the comment as ture and not very bright’, ‘cowardly to whether prison was appropribullies’, ‘ignorant and not very nice ate. In both cases, remarks were at all’ and ‘they are weak and sick made at a sensitive or distressindividuals hiding behind a compu- ing time, particularly Dayka Ayan ter screen’. Hassan who commented in the But the one comment which best aftermath of the murder of Drumsupports the theories of deindi- mer Lee Rigby, which is seen by vidualisation and social and per- some as one of the most shocksonal identities is this: “People ing, barbaric and public murders. like to hide behind a screen and a The survey responses would seek keyboard and think they can say to support the view that the timanything to that person without ing and nature of the comment a care in the world. They wouldn’t are inextricably linked and could say the things to someone’s face”. make a significant difference as to It could then be argued that deinwhether a prosecution happens. dividualisation, for some people, is But it should be noted that 25% a rational choice, as theorised by disagreed with prison sentences Cornish and Clark (1997). for such remarks while 22.6% Contrary to this, Old Holborn says: agreed that such remarks warrant “My definition of troll differs dra- prison sentences. matically to that of the media. A troll is merely someone who ex- Old Holborn states: “There should presses an opinion to which you be no legal sanction on making ofdisagree. Historically, trolls were fensive comments’ because ‘eveknown as troublemakers or her- rything is offensive to someone”. etics”. But he also added ‘I eagerly await Regardless of this, 61.54% of the the day someone decides to test online respondents believe that the water on what is legally offensocial media companies, such as sive – it’ll be a minefield.’ This refers Twitter and Facebook, could do back to the point that currently more to moderate the sites. there is no legal definition governIt should be noted that Old Hol- ing what is offensive. fensive, argue with me – engage in debate, tell me what offends you and why you choose to take offence.”

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IS THE JURY OUT ON JURIES?

by Diane Wright

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Trial by a jury of peers is considered to be the cornerstone of British justice. Some see trial by jury as the only way that a person accused of a criminal offence can be tried fairly and justly.

The randomness of selection can also mean that jurors have varying degrees of education and life experience and while they represent the views of the ‘common man’ sometimes they lack the insight and understanding required for some trials. An example would be complicated fraud trials where the evidence presented In the words of Lord Denning: “Twelve persons selected at random may relate to a series of complex financial transactions. In some are likely to be a cross-section of the people as a whole, and thus trials, juries are required to consider volumes of documentary represent the views of the common man. It will be argued that exhibits or consider complex scientific evidence. This raises questions of whether jurors get bogged down in the detail or rely on such a view is one which is reasonable and therefore just.” the judge’s direction to decide cases of such magnitude. And in 1956 Lord Devlin wrote: “Trial by jury is more than an instrument of justice and more than a wheel of the constitution; it is It could also be argued that the easy access to the internet is undermining the work of juries. There have also been recent cases of the lamp that shows freedom lives.” jurors using the internet to gain further information about a crime But is this true of the 21st century jury system? or case, evidenced in R v Fraill (2011). In this case, a serving juror Juries play a vital role in the criminal justice system in England and contacted a defendant and gave details of jury deliberations as Wales, but the constitutional position of the English jury is vulner- well as conducting internet searches into the trial. Fraill was senable because the country does not have a written constitution. tenced to eight months in custody. In Attorney General v Davey This means that any Government could alter or abolish the right and Beard (2013), juror Beard conducted an internet search into to trial by jury. However, the Juries Act was introduced in 1974 as the defendant and revealed his finding to other jurors. Fellow juror Davey posted a message on Facebook, which stated: “Woooow, I the main statute governing present day juries. wasn’t expecting to be in a jury deciding a paedophile’s fate. I’ve Individuals accused of indictable offences go to crown court to be always wanted to fuck up a paedophile and now I’m within the law.” tried by a jury, but those accused of a triable either-way offence This case also supports the argument that juries can be swayed can chose whether to have their case heard at the magistrates’ by two or three strong-minded individuals or those who have a court or crown court. Those who opt for this method would per- bias for or against certain groups. haps prefer to be tried by a random selection of society than a panel of magistrates who come from a smaller social pool. It might There is also the argument that cases can be upsetting and emoalso be that a jury, with 12 men and women aged between 18 and tional or jurors can be vulnerable to external pressures such as 75, is larger than a panel of magistrates and that means that the threats, violence, intimidation or bribery, as evidenced in the case prosecution has to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt to a of R v McKenna when a judge put a jury under pressure to reach larger number of people. This could mean that the accused has a verdict and they did so within 10 minutes. a greater chance of acquittal if tried by jury. This perception is But what is the alternative if an individual is not tried by a ransupported by statistical evidence showing acquittal rates of apdom selection of 12 of their peers? One option could be a ‘profesproximately 40% in jury trials compared with 25% in magistrates’ sional jury’ consisting of individuals who have been trained and courts. But this an expensive way to get justice with the cost of adequately understand the legal concepts contained in a trial operating a crown court courtroom standing at £30,000 per day. so are able to make an informed decision on guilt or innocence. Schedule 1, part 1 of the Juries Act 1974, as amended by the Juries However, a professional jury would not be a random cross-section Disqualification Act 1984, identifies four categories of people who of society: it would be a selection from a small pool of professionare ineligible to for jury service. They are: the judiciary, members als. This is also the case for the notion of state-appointed juries, of the legal profession and others who are concerned with the which would not have the impartiality and lack of accountability administration of justice e.g. the Probation Service and the Crown that a lay jury has. Prosecution Service, members of the clergy and mentally ill. The jury system is an essential safeguard to individual freedoms Jurors are selected at random from the Electoral Register and and ensures that decision-making over guilt or innocence is untherein lies the first problem. There is an increasing number of dertaken by an individual’s peers. That said, complex trials such as people who are not registered to vote – particularly those from complicated fraud cases are the fly in the ointment despite them low socio-economic backgrounds – therefore a jury could never only comprising a small proportion of the crown court caseload. be truly representative of society as a whole. In his 2001 ‘Review Is it safe for jurors who feel overwhelmed by the complexity of the of Criminal Courts’, Lord Justice Auld concluded that despite re- evidence to be asked to decide guilt or innocence? There is an forms, juries still lacked diversity and were not sufficiently repre- argument for jurors to receive training before undertaking such trials. But for most cases, jury trial remains the fairest option. sentatives of the communities from which they were drawn.

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Is our society by Hayley Bury

Zemiology is the study of social harm. Criminology has typically had the concept of crime and the criminal justice system as its focus for many years. However some radical Criminologists suggest that this focus should be widened to include harms that affect societies but, that may not necessarily be categorised as ‘crimes’. This considers social harms such as poverty, state harms, air and water pollution and workplace harms (Newburn, 2013). What constitutes a crime has shifted significantly over time, homosexuality and abortion used to be considered criminal offences, which raises the question ‘what is crime?’ Howard Becker (1963) asked a similar question in ‘what is deviance?’ and it could be argued that his explanation could be applied to defining crime. Becker suggested that a deviant act only becomes so when it is defined as such and that deviance ‘is a consequence of the application by others of rules and sanctions’ (Newburn, 2013: 220).

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In applying the earlier mentioned abortion and homosexuality when defining crime as Becker defined deviance i.e. a crime only becomes a crime when it is defined as such; homosexuality used to be criminal but is not now, therefore the ontological reality of crime can be questioned. Becker also suggests that because of imposed rules and sanctions deviance occurs. He argued that the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act led to the creation of deviant users and sellers of the drug (Joyce, 2006). What needs to be considered is how the law and criminal justice system define what is and is not criminal. The English Legal System’s main principle is the Rule of Law, developed by 19th century writer Dicey; states that in the interests of equality everyone, including institutions such as the Government, is bound by whichever law applies to them. It also states that the law must be broken in order for punishment to be sanctioned, i.e. the rule of law must be followed.


y harming us?

Parliament is responsible for creating laws; it is then down to the This definition includes economic equality as a ‘basic right’; secdiscretion of the Judiciary to interpret the laws, therefore setting tions of society are however, denied the ability to progress due to poor living conditions and low wages, forcing them into poverty, precedents that must be followed in the future. arguably suffering economic inequality that could be prevented by These precedents work downwards in the hierarchy of the Crimi- a social system. The UK criminal justice system does not consider nal Courts; starting with the European Court of Human Rights, the this criminal. Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, Divisional Court, Crown Court and finally Magistrates’ Court (Elliot and Quinn, 2010).

The media, on television and in print not only have influence in spoken and written content but the visual images they use can actually wield more power. Photographs suggest objectivity, Schwendinger and Schwendinger (2001) state that, ‘Any person, however the media’s representation of crimes is often anything social system, or social relationship that denied or abrogated ba- but objective; moreover the images used, especially on the front sic rights are criminal. Basic rights are distinguished by the right to pages of newspapers, are used for impact and to increase saleracial, sexual and economic equality...individuals who deny these ability. Valier, (2004: 25) states ‘the power to punish is a power of rights to others are criminal’. the image’.

First year Criminology students at UCBC were asked to photograph what they consider to be social harms for their first assignment. There is a slideshow of images at

www.youtube.com/watch?v=8QIILcct6Ik

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POVERTY PAWN

Are our high streets being regenerated or degenerated? As the on-going economic crisis continues across the country; people, communities, towns and businesses are all battling to survive. Small and independent businesses have closed their doors and retail giants such as Woolworths, JJB, Comet and Allsports have been unable to stay in business. The Government continues to peddle, ‘we inherited this mess’ and ‘the welfare bill is too high’ as justification for its austerity measures; and while society squabbles amongst itself about who is to blame and who should be made to pay, there is a line of business thriving. One which has begun to change how people make ends meet in order to survive from week to week. Blackburn with Darwen has been one of the boroughs hardest hit by cuts, yet despite this, has continued to improve the town centre through regeneration projects. A new Mall and award winning market, a new bus terminal is underway; plans to improve the night-time economy and transform the boulevard into a hub

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of hotels and restaurants aimed at appealing to the travelling business man. These are all welcome developments and improvements have no doubt; but is all this really going to attract outside shoppers/visitors? Or indeed improve the current ‘shopping experience’ for the town’s own residents? What has gone unchecked through all this regeneration is the social impact of the degeneration of the existing shops and thoroughfares’ leading to these improved areas. Once thriving


by Hayley Bury

independent businesses are left on the fringes; empty or scraping by in the hope that shoppers will venture out of the Mall to buy local quality, rather than pound shop chain cheap. However, pound shops are not the only harmful business to change the face of shopping in Blackburn. Shops that once provided sportswear and equipment, hardware and toys, and honest quality customer service have been replaced by pawn shops, bookmakers, cash for gold, cash for clothes and money shops. If you need money, then Blackburn town centre is happy to provide you with more ways than you could ever wish for to sell, swap or pawn your TV, pram, kids bike, jewellery; even the clothes off your back.

isn’t. These businesses perpetuate the problem of poverty in our town. It has become as regular as nipping to the newsagents for a paper and a pint of milk as it is to nip to one of the local pawn brokers, sell what little you have for cash to pay for the weekly shop, and then buy it back at an inflated price the following week or month.

If Blackburn town centre is to improve, in all aspects; then the council, and public and private sector landlords need to be mindful of creating an environment that allows and encourages living This is what dominates roads in and out of Blackburn town centre in poverty as acceptable. Peppering the streets with these busiand the pedestrianised routes from the bus and train stations. nesses is socially harmful. For the benefit of the next generation, So how is this means of filling empty shops going to improve the there should not only be effort made to improve the appearance town? Or indeed, lift the borough out of its current position of 17th of the town but a responsibility to improve the quality of what it most deprived borough in the country? The answer is simple, it provides and how this impacts on its citizens.

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IS WORK DAMAGING

In 2009/2010, the harm audit indicated that throughout England, Wales and Scotland there ware 171 deaths from workplace accidents, 8,000 cancer deaths, 1.2 million suffering from illness and 200,000 injuries (Pantazis and Pemberton 2012: 44). These deaths and injuries could have been avoided and more deaths and injuries prevented if they had been investigated successfully.

The HSE also states that there were 113 members of the public fatally injured in accidents connected to work in 2012/13 (excluding railways-related incidents).

In terms of accidents, over half of the fatal injuries to workers were of three kinds: falls from height; contact with moving machinery; and being struck by a vehicle. Electricity, fire and drowning/asphyxiation accidents accounted for around one in 12 fatalities to workers but fewer than one in 100 non-fatal injuries to employees. Falls and slips and trips combined made up more than Tombs and Whyte stated: “Almost nine out of 10 major injuries half of all reported major injuries. Slip and trip injuries were the known to the health and safety executive are not investigated” most commonly reported, accounting for three in every 10 injury (Tombs and Whyte, 2008: 12). reports. According to the Health And Safety Executive’s fatal injuries staThe risk of being a victim of actual or threatened violence at work tistics, the provisional figure for the number of workers fatally inin 2012/13 stands at an estimated 1.4% of working adults the vicjured in 2012/13 is 148, and corresponds to a rate of fatal injury of tims of one or more violent incidents at work. 0.5 deaths per 100,000 workers. The figure of 148 worker deaths in 2012/13 is 18% lower than the average for the past five years (181). In the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) 2012/13, 323,000 The latest rate of fatal injury of 0.5 compares to the five-year av- adults of working age in employment experienced work-related erage rate of 0.6. The finalised figure for 2011/12 is 171 worker fatali- violence including threats and physical assault. There were an esties, and corresponds to a rate of 0.6 deaths per 100,000 workers. timated 649,000 incidents of violence at work according to the

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YOUR HEALTH? 2012/13 CSEW, comprising 332,000 assaults and 317,000 threats. This compares to an estimated 643,000 incidents in 2011/12, an increase of 1%. It is estimated that 60% of victims reported one incident of work-related violence whilst 16% experienced two incidents of work-related violence and 24% experienced three or more incidents in 2012/13. Strangers were the offenders in 60% of cases of workplace violence. Among incidents where the offender was known, the offenders were most likely to be clients or a member of the public known through work. Victims of actual or threatened violence at work said that the offender was under the influence of alcohol in 38% of incidents, and that the offender was under the influence of drugs in 26% of incidents.

by Michaela Walker

authorities prosecuted 109 cases, with at least one conviction achieved in 104 cases, also a 95% success rate. There were also 13,503 notices issued by HSE and local authorities. But there remains a huge disparity in the number of convictions and the number of incidents occuring, supporting the notion that more cases should be investigated.

HSE and local authorities are responsible for enforcing health and safety legislation. Each has a range of tools at their disposal in seeking to secure compliance with the law and ensure a proportionate response to offences. For more serious offences, inspectors may serve improvement notices and prohibition notices and they may prosecute. Figures for 2012/13 show that the HSE prosecuted 597 cases, with at least one conviction achieved in 568 cases which equates to a 95% success rate. At a case level, local

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Criminal Justice Today  

Criminal Justice Today is a digital publication featuring the work of Criminology and Criminal Justice students at the University Centre at...

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