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Welcome to this series of short occasional articles on current issues in Scottish criminal justice. The series aims to both provoke and inform debate. Please note that, like the rest of the site, these articles are published under the terms of a Creative Commons licence.

pdficon_small Extracts from Croall, Mooney and Munro (2010) Criminal Justice in Scotland. Willan/Routledge

Contents and extracts from the editorial chapters of the recently published collection of essays on criminal justice in Scotland. Routledge catalogue page.

pdficon_small On getting a good hearing: reform and justice for children

Maggie Mellon responds to the proposed changes to the Children’s Hearings by suggesting that although the Scottish Government appears to be listening to criticism of the draft Children’s Hearings Bill, there is a risk that reforms will be fudged and an opportunity to right wrongs and for ‘joined up thinking’ on children and young people in trouble, missed.December 2009

pdficon_small Mercy and Criminal Justice: A Response to Lindsay Farmer

In Justice, Mercy and Punishment (below) Professor Antony Duff considered the question of mercy and criminal justice, and critically applied it to the release of Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi on compassionate grounds in August this year. Lindsay Farmer’s analysis of the place of mercy in criminal justice, published here as Mercy and Criminal Justice: a reply to Antony Duff led to the opposite conclusion. In this short response, Antony Duff argues that the exercise of mercy in these circumstances is in conflict with justice and that this distinguishes the sort of decision made in Megrahi from the exercise of discretion in sentencing, or where the rigour of the criminal law must be tempered to be just.

December 2009

pdficon_small Mercy and Justice: a reply to Antony Duff

Professor Lindsay Farmer replies to Antony Duff’s article (see below) by defending the place of mercy in criminal justice. He distinguishes considerations of mercy from questions of punishment – a distinction reflected in the separation of powers in modern criminal justice between the judiciary and the executive. However the decision to release was not a matter of law or justice but ‘a matter for a higher power though not, as MacAskill claimed, a divine one’. Therefore he does not accept Duff’s conclusion that the release was wrong.

November 2009

pdficon_small Justice, Mercy and Punishment

In this specially commissioned piece the renowned legal philosopher Professor Antony Duff considers the question of mercy and criminal justice, and applies it to the decision made by the Justice Secretary to release Al-Megrahi. His argument leads to the view that the release was wrong. September 2009.

pdficon_small Handy Guide to criminal justice in the Scottish Parliament August 2008 – July 2009

A summary of criminal justice activity in the Scottish Parliament and related review and consultations, during the second year of the SNP administration.  Contains a list of justice debates with links. September 2009

pdficon_small Community Wardens in Scotland: Practitioners’ Views

Article by Daniel Donnelly on research findings relating to the deployment of community wardens in Scotland since 2003. This is a version submitted by the author to and subsequently published by the Howard Journal.  The definitive version is available at The Howard Journal Vol 47 No 4. September 2008 DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-2311.2008.00527.x

ISSN 0265-5527, pp. 371–382.

pdficon_small Global Politics and Local Culture: crime control and penal practice in a small nation

Plenary presentation by Lesley McAra of Edinburgh University given at the European Society of Criminology Conference meeting in Edinburgh in September 2008. In it she claims that despite being a ‘small nation’ Scotland should be of central interest to criminologists because (1) the Scottish systems of youth and adult criminal justice have resisted until very recently the punitive and/or actuarial turn evident elsewhere and (2) the unique history and development of Scottish criminology as an academic discipline raises important questions about the function of criminological scholarship.

October 2008

pdficon_small Handy guide to criminal justice in the Scottish Parliament June 2007 – August 2008

A summary of criminal justice activity in the Scottish Parliament and related review and consultations, during the first year of the SNP administration.  Contains a list of justice debates with links.

October 2008

pdficon_small Justice reinvestment: what it is and why it may be an idea to consider in Scotland

Article by Hillary Ross introducing the US concept of justice reinvestment which argues that rather than spend public money on penal measures against individuals from poor areas, it is better invested in social and community solutions to offending.

July 2008

pdficon_small Evidencing the Impact of Criminal Justice Services on Re-offending

Steve Kirkwood, research officer for Sacro, discusses the methodological and conceptual limitations in the use of reconviction data in the evaluation of voluntary sector justice services.

January 2008.

pdficon_small Will the Victim Statement scheme secure greater participation for victims in the criminal justice process?

Article by Dr Derek Brookes and Steve Kirkwood of Sacro, looking critically at the mismatch between victim expectations and the reality of the piloted Victim Statement Scheme

November 2007

pdficon_small On social equality and perceptions of insecurity: Iceland and Scotland compared

Article by Álfgeir Logi Kristjánsson, social researcher at the Icelandic Centre for Social Research and Analysis, School of Health and Education, Reykjavik University, Iceland comparing dimensions of fear of crime in Iceland and Scotland.

May 2007

pdficon_small Prisoners and the Vote: the case of Smith v Electoral Registration Officer

This article by Angus Gillies discusses the recent decision by Scotland’s Registration Appeal Court that prisoners have a right to vote and that this right has been violated. This may be traced to the failure of Government to respond effectively to an earlier decision against the UK in the case of Hirst and in particular, its failure to take the Scottish Parliamentary elections into account. April 2007

pdficon_small The End to ‘Dishonesty’ in Sentencing? The Custodial Sentences Act will be Fogged by Confusion

Article by Cyrus Tata, Co-Director, Centre for Sentencing Research and Senior Lecturer in Law, Strathclyde University, Glasgow.

March 2007

pdficon_small Antisocial Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) – ‘Evidence In, Order Out’? A Critical Evaluation of the Evidence So Far

Article by Jane Donoghue, doctoral researcher in the Department of Applied Social Science at the University of Stirling

Jane Donoghue – January 2007

pdficon_small Addictions work in prison: a practitioner’s view

Article by Steve Evans, addictions caseworker at HMP Perth.

Steve Evans – January 2007

pdficon_small Whatever happened to ‘independent’? Complaints against the police in Scotland – one step forward, two steps back

Article by Daniel Donnelly, Senior Research Fellow at the Scottish Centre for Police Studies, Bell College, Hamilton and visiting lecturer at Glasgow Caledonian University.

Daniel Donnelly – August 2006

pdficon_small Caught up in the Curfew: the Hamilton Child Safety Initiative remembered

Article by Chirene Thomson who was a young teenager growing up in Hamilton when the ‘curfew’ came into force. She describes the impact on young people at the time and assesses the longer term consequences

Chirene Thomson – June 2006

pdficon_small Human Rights Scotland

Article by Fiona Pearson, Director of Human Rights Scotland about the importance of education and training and a rounded understanding of human rights, especially in the context of current attacks by the media and politicians.

Fiona Pearson – May 2006

pdficon_small Making Sense of Rape and Other Sexual Offences

Article by Fiona Southward of the Scottish Law Commission about the current discussion paper on sexual offences.

Fiona Southward – April 2006

pdficon_small A New Paradigm for Social Work with Offenders?

Article by Fergus McNeill of the Glasgow School of Social Work, Universities of Glasgow and Strathclyde.

Fergus McNeill – April 2006

Explaining Closed Circuit Television’s (CCTV’s) acceptance amongst the UK public

Article by Gavin Smith, who is undertaking research on CCTV for his PhD at Aberdeen University, on the influences that have resulted in the UK having around 20% of the world’s CCTV cameras.

Gavin Smith – January 2006

pdficon_small Addressing racism in rural communities

Article by Philomena de Lima, researcher at the University of the Highlands and Islands, identifies critical issues that require to be considered in developing effective strategies for addressing racial harassment in rural areas.

Philomena de Lima – October 2005

pdficon_small Some thoughts on reducing reoffending

Article by Bernadette Monaghan, formerly director of Apex Scotland, looking at reforms needed to bring about a reduction in reoffending.

Bernadette Monaghan – August 2005

pdficon_small Mean Streets to clean streets: bringing back ideas from New York

Article by Mike Casey (Modern Studies teacher, George Watson’s Edinburgh) and Amy Whitelaw (student) of a school visit to New York in 2004 to experience some aspects of the criminal justice system there.

Mike Casey – June 2005

pdficon_small Releasing the potential of the family to reduce offending

Article by Angela Morgan of Families Outside in which she argues that the proposed Management of Offenders legislation provides an opportunity for the key role of families in reducing offending to be acknowledged and not marginalised as at present.

Angela Morgan – May 2005

Community Justice in Scotland – ‘the way forward’

Roundtable discussion organised by Fellows’ Associates – January 2005.

Published on the site in April 2005

pdficon_small Talking after severe crime

The article gives an outline of a new service in Scotland that draws on restorative justice principles to address some needs of those affected by severe crime.

Niall Kearney – March 2005

pdficon_small ‘Offender management’ in Scotland: the first hundred years

Probation in Scotland reaches its centenary in 2005. This article explores significant historic changes in Scottish probation’s identity and purpose. It argues that the current debate about the future of criminal justice social work should shift from questions about organisational arrangements to fundamental questions about which of these various purposes and identities should endure.

Fergus McNeill – January 2005

pdficon_small ‘Heds’ not ‘Neds’ are the Real Modern Plague

The Scottish Executive has just announced a consultation exercise on a new corporate homicide law. Canada’s law, which includes jail for directors and probation for companies, would be a more adventurous and progressive route for the Executive to follow than the Westminster proposals.

Dave Whyte – December 2004

If you can be persuaded to write for this series please contact Mary Munro