Criminal Justice, Victims and Witnesses

Topics: Crime, Juvenile delinquency, Criminology Pages: 8 (2823 words) Published: October 10, 2013
Victims and Witnesses: The differing social perceptions of youths throughout history and how perceptions often serve in masking young offenders as victims

As civilization rapidly developed during the industrial revolution, so did our understanding of criminals, in the 1830’s the first real liberal approach to dealing with and understanding youth crime and criminals. Parkhurst on the Isle of Wight was the first prison specifically designed for young people. The only strategy was that of punishment although the government did recognize that children had to be kept separate from older offenders who would most likely ‘influence’ young minds. As the nineteenth century continued, people did recognize that these youths needed re-educating and programmes developed to prevent young people from offending. Prevention at the time took the form of care and well being (Muncie 2009). The intervention strategies at the time were not only directed at young offenders but those who seemed more likely to offend (orphan, runaway etc). This was the basis where youth justice developed in the twentieth century. During the 1960’s the attitudes towards young people took a significant turn. The way society has treated young people is reflected by the social and/or political thinking of the time. For example the social revolution of the 1960’s prompted radical liberal thinking throughout Britain, none more so when it came to the treatment of children. Post war Britain had become a beacon of welfarism. This can be seen in legislation of time, Children and Young Persons Act 1963 established that local authorities could partake in preventive social work; it also rose the age of criminal responsibility to 10. So the establishment of preventive social work acknowledges that crime committed by youths is a product of negative relationships within the family and/or environment (Goldson & Muncie 2007). The most prominent and radical piece of welfare orientated legislation in the 1960’s was enshrined in 1969 when Harold Wilson's Labour government planned to bring in legislation firmly based on welfare principles. The Children and Young Persons Act 1969 changed the way in which young people in trouble were supervised in the community (Burke 2008). One thing to come out of the Act was the establishment of a 'halfway house' between being subject to a Supervision Order (an order that requires only minimum contact between a supervisor and young person) and being taken into care. Although it was not specifically defined by the Act, Intermediate Treatment (IT), as it became known, was the forerunner of youth justice as we know it today. The act abolished remand centres for juveniles and replaced them with residential and care facilities (Newburn 2007. p727) The intention was to make the juvenile court a last resort. But because children who have been taken into care for reasons other than committing an offence also were subjected to the ‘halfway house’ thus this blurred the distinction between the depraved and the deprived. One of the purposes behind the 1969 Act was to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 14 with the exception of homicide (Prior to 1963 it had been only eight years). Yet this was never enacted, and soon after the Act was passed the Government lost power to the Conservatives (Burke 2007). The act came into power but not with full effect, many of the main liberal aspects of the act were not put into effect. For example criminal responsibility was not raised. The acts liberal ideals were used very little in the seventy’s. The number of custodial sentences rose by 4000 from the period of 1970 to 1978 (Newburn 2007). This is directly contradictory to the provisions of the 1969 Act. It could very well be perceived as political incompetence that the public were lead to believe that a new softer approach to youth justice was being implemented only for the ’Nothing Works’ approach to be adopted...

References: Burke, R. H (2008) ‘Young People, Crime and Justice’ Cullompton, Willian Publishing
Golsdon, B
Jones, D.W (2008) ‘Understanding Criminal Behaviour’, Cullompton, Willian Publishing
Martin, J
Muncie, J (2009) ‘Youth and Crime’, London, Sage Publications Ltd
Newburn, T (2007) ‘Criminology’, Devon, Willian Publishing
Smith, R (2011) ‘Doing Justice To Young People’, Abingdon, Willian Publishing
Walsh, M
Websites
Gerrard, N (9th May 1998) ‘The mob can move on, the pain never can’, [Online], Available: http://observer.guardian.co.uk/focus/story/0,,688106,00.html [Accessed 5th January 2012]
Golsdon, B. Muncie, J. (2007) The Children and Young Persons Act 1969, cited in ‘Youth Crime and Justice’, London, Sage Publications
Muncie, J (2009) 1908 Children Act, cited in ‘Youth and Crime’, London, Sage Publications Ltd
Martin, J. Storey, T. (2004) 1982 Criminal Justice Act, cited in ‘Unlocking Criminal Law’, Abingdon, Bookpoint Ltd
Martin, J
Muncie, J (2009) Public Order Act 1994 cited in ‘Youth and Crime’, London, Sage Publications Ltd
Golsdon, B
Golsdon, B. Muncie, J. (2007) The Children and Young Persons Act 1963, cited in ‘Youth Crime and Justice’, London, Sage Publications
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Smith, R (2011) 1998 Crime and Disorder Act, cited in ‘Doing Justice To Young People’, Abingdon, Willian Publishing
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