Skip to 0 minutes and 4 secondsThis week, we've looked at the criminal justice process, including its principles, key actors, and the way cases move through this process. We've also explored some of the reasons why this process may go wrong and result in a miscarriage of justice, or perhaps the need to appeal a conviction. The articles on criminal justice and interviews with criminal justice practitioners have shown just how complex this process is, and thus how the scope for error is great, particularly under conditions of austerity, when criminal justice actors find themselves more pressed for time and with more limited resources. This can have grave consequences for individual suspects or defendants, also for victims, as well as for the legitimacy of the criminal justice process.

Skip to 0 minutes and 45 secondsHaving a fair, equitable and socially just criminal justice process, trusted in by all, irrespective of their backgrounds, is fundamental to the functioning of democratic societies. As I mentioned in my introduction, criminal justice is ever-changing, which raises some really interesting questions about its future. One of the biggest challenges ahead is Brexit - that is the June 2016 referendum vote for Britain to leave the European Union. This will continue to have a number of implications for criminal justice institutions, for example, with regards to whether and how European case law may be interpreted and used to continue to hold criminal justice actors to account.

Skip to 1 minute and 24 secondsIt also has implications for police organisations with regards to access to intelligence databases, such as the Schengen Information System II, which has become a powerful tool, enabling police organisations to share information across Europe. This has a particular significance given the increasingly globalised world in which we live, in which crimes do not respect the boundaries of nation states. Another area of importance in the future is technology in criminal justice. Criminal justice institutions will have to increasingly keep pace with would-be offenders when it comes to the use of technology, including the internet, particularly with the advent of the dark web. More attention will also have to be paid to that potentially harmful and unintended consequences of technology.

Skip to 2 minutes and 9 secondsFor example, body-worn cameras used by the police may have harmful consequences if evidence from them were routinely used against citizens in a court of law rather than as intended, as an additional layer of police accountability. Video-enabled justice can also have harmful consequences for suspects and defendants, particularly vulnerable ones for whom the digital format presents a further communication barrier. And finally, austerity is far from over with regards to criminal justice institutions. Indeed, cuts to budgets continue to have a damaging impact on criminal justice practices and processes, the effects of which, for example with regards to miscarriages of justice, may continue to be felt indefinitely, or at least until these institutions come to be better resourced.

Skip to 2 minutes and 54 secondsIn this week's learning, we have touched on the police as a key criminal justice institution. But next week, we examine the police in a bit more detail. In particular, we explore the varied role they play in society, which extends beyond popular conceptions of them as crime fighters who catch the bad guys or girls. We'll also spend time with serving police officers, gaining first-hand knowledge of their daily routines and practices in order to gain a better understanding of the complexities, nuances, and also the challenges of their role in the 21st century. See you then.

Review of the week

In this video, Dr Layla Skinns reflects on what we have covered this week.

  • How have you found this week?
  • If you could share one piece of information about criminal justice what would it be?

You can check whether you’ve mastered this week’s material in the end of course test. If you would like to take the test, click through to the next step.

Next week, we’ll be looking at the police, who are tasked all over the world with the job of trying to stop crime and catch criminals. If you want to get a head start, you can visit Week 3 now.

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Crime, Justice and Society

The University of Sheffield

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