A cautionary tale?: a critical examination of the implementation of summary justice in front line policing.

Harding, Kevin steven (2012) A cautionary tale?: a critical examination of the implementation of summary justice in front line policing. BSc dissertation, University of Portsmouth.

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    This dissertation is concerned with the subject of summary disposals that divert offenders from prosecution and how front line police officers use them away from custody suites. It also assesses the effect that performance management and targets have had on front line officers’ working practices since the introduction of policing plans through the Police Reform Act 2002.

    This dissertation firstly discusses government policy and subsequent legislation around diversion from prosecution, both before, but more specifically after 1997 through a review of relevant literature. It discusses the reasons for the legislation, how it was implemented by police forces and what effect it had on offenders. It discusses the use of discretion by police when dealing with offenders and analyses the terms ‘net-widening’ and ‘mesh-thinning’, with regards to the increase in people being brought into the criminal justice system.

    There then follows a case study based at a provincial police station. Through secondary data research, the performance figures for the station over a four-year period are assessed against the corresponding policing plans and targets to assess if there are links between the two. This is followed by primary research by means of semi-structured interviews with fourteen officers from Constable, Sergeant and Inspector rank to gauge their opinions and experiences of working under performance management.

    Finally, the results from the research are analysed, leading to the conclusion that performance management has had a clear effect on both front line officers and offenders. It concludes that the officers’ ability to use discretion has been reduced and that increased summary disposal options and specific targets (in particular around anti-social behaviour) introduced since 1997 have led to more people being criminalised through net-widening. Further areas for future research are also identified.

    Item Type: Dissertation
    Departments/Research Groups: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Centre for Studies in Literature
    Depositing User: Jane Polwin
    Date Deposited: 14 Nov 2012 16:33
    Last Modified: 28 Jan 2015 12:11
    URI: http://eprints.port.ac.uk/id/eprint/9704

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