Criminal Justice


Ursula Smartt

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    Chronology of Crime Events

    1953 – 19-year-old Derek Bentley is hanged, after being involved in the shooting of a policeman. His aunt campaigned for many years, and Bentley was finally granted a posthumous pardon in 1999.

    1955 – 13 July: 28-year-old Ruth Ellis is the last woman to be hanged in England (Holloway Prison).

    1963 – The Great Train Robbery. On 8 August a 20-man gang steal £2.6m in used bank notes from a Royal Mail train.

    1965 – Abolition of the Death Penalty in Britain, substituted by a ‘life imprisonment’ sentence.

    1966 – Moors murderers Ian Brady and Myra Hindley receive life sentences for the murder of four children on Saddleworth Moor. Hindley died November 2002 from a severe chest infection. She was one of the ‘natural lifers’ in prison.

    1968 – Reggie and Ronald Kray (the Kray Twins) get a life sentence for the murder of gangsters George Cornell and Jack ‘the Hat’ McVitie.

    1968 – Ten-year-old ‘Mary Bell’ is convicted of the murder of two little boys by strangulation, aged three and four, in Newcastle upon Tyne. The story is told by Gitta Sereny in Cries Unheard: The Story of Mary Bell (1998). Mary Bell was tried as an adult, found guilty of double murder and sentenced to ‘life’ imprisonment under Her Majesty's Pleasure (HMP).

    1973 – Wendy Sewell is murdered in Bakewell, leading to the wrongful conviction of Stephen Downing, who spent 27 years in prison, before being released.

    1974 – Lord Lucan vanishes after the murder of the nanny of his three children.

    1975 – The body of Lesley Whittle, a 17-year-old heiress kidnapped from her Shropshire home 52 days earlier, is found at the bottom of a drain shaft. In June 1976, Donald Neilson, a builder from Bradford, is given five life sentences for her murder.

    1979 – Jeremy Thorpe, former leader of the Liberal Party, is cleared of attempted murder. He was alleged to have plotted the demise of Norman Scott, who caused Thorpe to resign in 1976 over rumours of a homosexual affair.

    1981 – Peter Sutcliffe, known as ‘The Yorkshire Ripper’, is sentenced to life imprisonment at the Old Bailey for the murder of 13 women.

    1983 – Dennis Nilsen is charged with the murder of 12 men after human remains are found in his home in North London.

    1985 – Autumn: the Brixton Riots break out, predominantly against the police. One person is killed, 50 injured and over 200 arrested.

    1987 – The Hungerford Massacre. On 19 August, Michael Ryan goes on a rampage in Hungerford, Berkshire, shooting dead 16 people before turning the gun on himself. He was apparently motivated by ‘Rambo’ films.

    1989 – 15 April: Hillsborough football stadium disaster. Sheffield Wednesday play Liverpool FC in the FA cup semi-final. 96 people die by being crushed to death at the old Sheffield stadium. Countless others are left mentally and physically injured, leading to long-standing legal challenges.

    1993 – 22 April: the black 17-year-old A-Level student Stephen Lawrence is murdered in Eltham, East London.

    1993 – February: two 10-year-old boys, Robert Thompson and Jon Venables, kill the toddler Jamie Bulger. November: Thompson and Venables (then 11) are tried and found guilty for murdering Jamie Bulger at Preston Crown Court.

    1994 – Fred and Rosemary West are charged with the murders of 12 young women, including their daughter Heather. On 1 January 1995, Fred West hangs himself in Birmingham Prison. In October 1995 Rose West is sentenced to life imprisonment for 10 counts of murder and is one of the ‘natural lifers’ in the system.

    1995 – ‘Rogue Trader’ Nick Leeson is arrested in Singapore after he bankrupted his own bank, Barings Bank and is charged with fraud. He gambled some the bank's assets of some £800m on the stock exchange. He served five years in Singapore's prison, and was extradited to Britain due to ill health.

    1996 – The Dunblane Massacre. Lone gunman Thomas Hamilton kills 16 children and their teacher at a school in Dunblane, Scotland. Gun control legislation is put in place.

    1997 – Sex Offender Register comes into force. It requires that some 12,000 convicted sex offenders at that time go on the (police and social services) register with their names and addresses.

    1999 – Jill Dando, the TV and BBC Crimewatch Presenter, is murdered on the doorstep of her own home in Fulham, London on 26 April. Barry George, Dando's stalker, is found guilty of her murder in July 2001.

    2000 – January: Harold Shipman, a GP, is found guilty on 15 counts of murder of his patients. He is to that date the UK's most prolific killer. A public inquiry discovers a further 215 patients lost their lives in Shipman's hands. He committed suicide in his prison cell in 2002.

    2000 – March: Zahid Mubarek, a 19-year-old convicted criminal from East London, is killed on the eve of his release from Feltham Young Offenders' Institution when his white racist cellmate battered him to death with a table leg. A public inquiry into his death was held in 2005.

    2000 – July: 8-year-old Sarah Payne's body is found in Sussex. In December 2001 Roy Whiting was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment. Trial judge Mr Justice Richard Curtis recommends that Whiting should serve a ‘natural’ life sentence where ‘life’ should mean life.

    2000 – The Human Rights Act 1998 comes into force on 2 October. The HRA is hailed as one of the most significant changes to British law since the Magna Carta. It enshrines the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (The Convention) in UK law.

    2000 – November: 10-year-old Damilola Taylor from Nigeria is found bleeding to death on a housing estate in Peckham, South London. Two teenage boys (17-year-old twins with Southern European origin) are acquitted during their murder trial in June 2002, because the testimony of a key witness (girl ‘Bromley’ aged 13) was unreliable and discredited.

    2001 – The carers (one of them her aunt) of Victoria Climbié, aged 8, are found guilty of her murder by child abuse. A number of inquiries follow into the duties of care of London Social Services.

    2001 – Jamie Bulger's killers, Thompson and Venables (after turning 18) are released from secure youth custody and do not have to transfer to an adult prison, following Lord Chief Justice Woolf's direction. Both are given new identities and a life-long ban (anonymity order by the Family Court Division) now exists on their identities and whereabouts. No ‘world’ media is permitted to report on the young men.

    2002 – 24 April: the body of missing 13-year-old Amanda (Millie) Dowler is found in the river Thames, near Walton on Thames. Her killer has not been found.

    2002 – David Blunkett announces his intention to reclassify cannabis to class C, a category which does not have an automatic power of arrest for simple possession.

    2002 – The remains of the two 10-year-old schoolgirls, Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, are found near their homes in Soham, Cambridgeshire in September. The school caretaker Ian Huntley stands trial for their murder in October 2003, and is found guilty in December 2003. His girlfriend Maxine Carr stands trial at the same time for perverting the course of justice (lying on his behalf) and is found guilty. She is released from prison in 2004 and given a new identity. A lifelong anonymity order exists on her identity and whereabouts.

    2002 – Honour Killing of 16-year-old Kurdish Heshu Yones in Acton, West London. Her attacker is her father Abdullah who stabbed his daughter 11 times and then slit her throat. Reasons were that he disapproved of her western dress and her Christian boyfriend.

    2003 – Charlene Ellis (18) and Latisha Shakespeare (17) are gunned down outside a Birmingham hair salon in Aston. They were shot ‘by mistake’, resulting from a feud between two local gangs. Charlene's half-brother Marcus Elliss (24), Michael Gregory (22), Nathan Martin (26) and Rodrigo Simms (20) were convicted of their murder and given a life sentence each after a six-month Leicester Crown court trial in March 2005. The trial was marred by serious attempts to intimidate key witnesses.

    2003 – December: Ian Huntley a primary school caretaker is convicted of the murder of two 10-year-old girls in Soham, Cambridgeshire: Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman.

    2004 – 19 August, French woman Amelie Delagrange, 22, is found bludgeoned to death in Twickenham, London. The killer has not been found.

    2004 – December: A Sikh father is found guilty of hiring a hitman to carry out the ‘Honour Kllings’ of his daughter Sanjit, 23, her Jewish boyfriend, Temple Jazac, 43, and Malcolm Calver, a man he mistook for Mr Jazac's father, on 26 September 2003.

    2005 – Mary-Ann Leneghan (16) is stabbed in the neck and left to die in a Reading Park. November 2005, Old Bailey: six men, aged between 18 and 23, are charged with her murder and attempted murder of her friend, and the kidnap, rape and grievous bodily harm of both girls.

    2005 – Bluewater Shopping Centre in Kent announces ‘hoodies’ ban. The guidelines say intimidating behaviour by groups or individuals and the wearing of clothing which deliberately obscures the face, such as hooded tops or baseball caps, will not be allowed.

    2005 – 7 July: Four explosions rip across central London transport (No. 30 bus and various underground trains) at 8.50am on Thursday 7 July. At least 55 people are killed and 700 are injured in the blasts. Four suicide bombers died. Al-Quaida claims responsibility. Four further attacks on London transport follow a week later during lunchtime of 21 July.

    Glossary of Legal Terms

    AbscondFail to surrender to bail, or leave the court/police station before being dealt with. Also failure to return to prison after home leave.
    AccusedThe person charged. The person who has allegedly committed the offence.
    Accredited programmeCommunity/prison programme approved by Prison and Probation Services or NOMS (see NOMS).
    AcquittalDischarge of defendant following verdict or direction of not guilty.
    ActAs an Act of Parliament; Statute; law.
    Actual Bodily Harm (ABH)It is an offence contrary to s 47 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 (OAPA) to commit an assault occasioning actual bodily harm. The actus reus (see Actus reus) of the offence consists of the actus reus for an assault or a battery plus a requirement that actual bodily harm is caused. The expression ‘actual bodily harm’ includes ‘any harm … which interferes with the health or comfort of the victim’ (see also GBH).
    Actus ReusGuilty act. The actions in the offence of which the defendant is accused: ‘Actus non facit reum, nisi mens sit rea’ (an act does not make a person legally guilty unless the mind is legally blameworthy). It is a general principle of English criminal law that liability depends upon proof of conduct (actus reus) and a guilty mind (mensThe proscribed behaviour conduct or act contained within the definition of the offence. The actus reus of murder, for example, is the killing of a human being in the Queen's (or King's) peace (see also Mens rea).
    AdjudicationJudgement or decision of a court or tribunal (e.g. in prison).
    AdversarialRefers to the common law justice system with a ‘party prosecution’ of a dispute. Parties (i.e. the Crown Prosecutor and Defence Lawyer) present the facts to the court; parties have the primary responsibility for defining the issues in a legal dispute and for investigating and advancing the dispute (not the judge – as in France or Germany). (See also Inquisitorial.)
    AdvocateA barrister or solicitor representing a party in a hearing before a court (used mostly in Scotland).
    AEOAttachment of Earnings Order.
    AffidavitA written statement of evidence confirmed on oath or by affirmation to be true and taken before someone who has authority to administer it.
    AffirmationDeclaration by a witness who has no religious belief, or has religious beliefs that prevent him/her taking the oath, that the evidence he is giving is the truth.
    Alternative dispute resolution(ADR) An alternative method by which parties can resolve their dispute – could be arbitration.
    AnnulTo declare no longer valid.
    AntecedentsInformation about an offender's background received in court as part of the sentencing process.
    AppealApplication to a higher court or authority for review of a decision of a lower court or authority.
    AppellantPerson who appeals.
    ApplicantPerson making the request or demand, e.g. person who issues an application.
    ApplicationThe act of applying to a court.
    ArsonSee Criminal damage.
    AsboAnti-Social Behaviour Order (civil order but criminal standards apply). Crime and Disorder Act 1998.
    AssaultA person is guilty of assault if he intentionally or recklessly causes another person to apprehend the application of immediate and unlawful force (see Venna [1976] CA).
    BailRelease of a defendant from custody, until his/her next appearance in court, subject sometimes to security being given and/or compliance with certain conditions.
    BailiffOfficer of the County Court empowered to serve Court documents and execute warrants.
    BankruptInsolvent – unable to pay creditors and having all goods/effects administered by a liquidator or trustee and sold for the benefit of those creditors; as a result of an order under the Insolvency Act 1986.
    BarThe collective term for barristers.
    BarristerA member of the bar – the branch of the legal profession which has rights of audience before all courts.
    Basic Intent CrimesAn offence where recklessness will suffice. Offences of basic intent include:
    • Involuntary manslaughter – Lipman (1970)
    • Rape; sexual offences (Sexual Offences Act 1956, s 1)
    • Malicious wounding; GBH (OAPA 1861, s 20) Majewski [1956]
    • Criminal damage (Criminal Damage Act 1971, s 1(1)) R v G [2003]
    • ABH (OAPA 1861, s 47)
    • Common assault and battery (CJA 1988, s 39).
    BatteryA person is guilty of battery if he intentionally or recklessly applies unlawful force to the body of another person (CJA 1988, s 39) (see Fagan v Metropolitan Police Commissioner [1969] 1 QB 439).
    Bench warrantA warrant issued by the judge for an absent defendant to be arrested and brought before a court by the police.
    Bill of IndictmentA written statement of the charges against a defendant sent for trial to the Crown Court, and signed by an officer of the court.
    Bind overForm of sentence of unspecified date in the Magistrates' Court (rarely in the Crown Court); signed by an officer of the court. Failure to observe this order may result in a forfeit or penalty to be enforced.
    BriefWritten instructions to counsel to appear at a hearing on behalf of a party prepared by the solicitor and setting out the facts of the case and any case law relied upon.
    Burden of proofIn general, the prosecution must prove the defendant's guilt beyond any reasonable doubt. (See Woolmington v DPP [1935] HL). (See also Insanity; Diminished responsibility.)
    CaseLawsuit. Comprehensive term for any proceeding in a court, whereby an individual seeks a legal remedy (e.g. against a landlord in civil law or the crown against a defendant in criminal law).
    Case lawAlso known as ‘common law’ or ‘judge made law’. Refers to judges' decisions when they try a case. Decisions are known as ‘judgements’.
    Case nameEach legal case in court is given a name, usually based on the family name of the parties involved e.g. R v Smith (R – Rex/Regina) the Crown's case against (versus) Smith.
    Case numberA unique reference number allocated to each case by the issuing court.
    Case to answerThe prosecution evidence must always be sufficient in itself to support a conviction or the charge must be dismissed on the ground that there is ‘no case to answer’.
    • Warning, given by a Police Officer to a person charged with an offence
    • Warning, given by a Police Officer, instead of a charge.
    CCRCCriminal Cases Review Commission.
    CDHCriminal Directions Hearing. Hearing by a bench, single Magistrate or justices' clerk (or legal advisor) to deal with issues of case management.
    • Private room, or court from which the public are excluded in which a District Judge (DJ) or Judge may conduct certain sorts of hearings
    • Offices used by a barrister.
    ChargeA formal accusation against a person that a criminal offence has been committed.
    CICACriminal Injuries Compensation Authority.
    Circuit judgeA judge who sits in the County Court and/or Crown Court.
    CivilMatters concerning private rights and not offences against the state.
    Civil justice reformsThe result of the Access to Justice Report by Lord Woolf (1999). The aim was to provide more effective access to justice through quicker, cheaper and more proportionate justice for defended cases. It introduced a unified set of Rules and Practice Directions for the County and High Courts, and Judicial Case Management.
    CJACriminal Justice Act e.g. CJA 2003.
    CJUCriminal Justice Unit (e.g. of the police or the Crown Prosecution Service working jointly).
    ClaimantThe person issuing the claim; also known as the Plaintiff.
    • Committal for trial: Following examination by the Magistrates of a case involving an indictable or either-way offence; the procedure of directing the case to the Crown Court to be dealt with there because of seriousness
    • Committal for Sentence: Where Magistrates consider that the offence justifies a sentence greater than they are empowered to impose, they may commit the defendant to the Crown Court for sentence to be passed by a judge
    • Committal Order: An order of the Court committing someone to prison.
    Common lawThe law established, by precedent, from judicial decisions and established within a community (see Case law).
    Community sentenceSingle ‘community punishment’ order under CJA 2003 with a number of options attached (e.g. unpaid work in the community) available to justices instead of a prison sentence.
    Compensation orderSum of money to make up for or make amends for loss, breakage, hardship, inconvenience or personal injury caused by another (Crime and Disorder Act 1998).
    Concurrent sentenceA direction by a court that a number of sentences of imprisonment should run at the same time.
    Conditional discharge (CD)A form of sentence: convicted defendant is discharge on condition that he does not reof-fend within a specified period of time.
    Consecutive sentenceAn order for a subsequent sentence of imprisonment to commence as soon as a previous sentence expires; applies to two or more sentences.
    Contempt of courtDisobedience or wilful disregard to the judicial process (Contempt of Court Act 1981).
    CorroborationEvidence by one person confirming that of another or supporting evidence, for example, forensic evidence (bloodstain, fibres etc) in murder cases.
    CounselA barrister.
    CountAn individual offence set out in an indictment.
    Court of Appeal (CA) Divided into:
    • civil divisions from decisions in the High Court and Country Courts
    • criminal divisions; hears appeals against convictions or sentences passed by the Crown Court.
    Court roomThe room in which cases are heard.
    CPOCommunity Punishment Order (now replaced by single ‘Community Sentence’ – CJA 2003).
    CPROCommunity Punishment and Rehabilitation Order (now one option under Community Sentence).
    CPSCrown Prosecution Service.
    CrimeAn activity that is classified within the criminal laws of a country. Specific form of deviance; breaking of legal state norms (rules). (See also Deviance.)
    CriminalPerson who has been found guilty of a criminal offence.
    Criminal damageSection 1(3) of the Criminal Damage Act 1971 provides that a person who, without lawful excuse, destroys or damages any property belonging to another, intending to destroy or damage such property, or being reckless as to whether any such property would be destroyed or damaged, is guilty of an offence punishable on conviction on indictment with imprisonment for a maximum of ten years. Section 1(2) provides that a person who, without lawful excuse, destroys or damages any property whether belonging to himself or another (a) intending to destroy or damage any property or being reckless as to whether any property would be destroyed or damaged, and (b) intending by the destruction or damage to endanger the life of another or being reckless as to whether the life of another would be thereby endangered, shall be guilty of an offence.
    If the damage or destruction is caused by fire, the offence is charged as arson and is punishable with a maximum of imprisonment for life. (s 1(3)).
    CROCommunity Rehabilitation Order (now one option under Community Sentence).
    Crown CourtThe Crown Court deals with all crime committed for trial by Magistrates' Courts. Cases for trial are heard before a judge and jury. The Crown Court also acts as an Appeal Court for cases heard and dealt with by the Magistrates.
    The Crown Court is divided into tiers, depending on the type of work dealt with.
    First tier
    • Defended High Court Civil work
    • All classes of offence in criminal proceedings
    • Committals for sentence from the Magistrates' Court
    • Appeals against convictions and sentences imposed at Magistrates' Court.
    Second tier
    • All classes of offence in criminal proceedings
    • Committals for sentence from Magistrates' Court
    • Appeals against convictions and sentences imposed at Magistrates' Court.
    Third tier
    • Class 4 offences only in criminal proceedings
    • Committals for sentence from Magistrates' Court
    • Appeals against convictions and sentences.
    DamagesAn amount of money claimed as compensation for physical/material loss, e.g. personal injury, breach of contract (ordered in a civil court).
    Dark figureHidden and unreported crime statistic.
    DCADepartment of Constitutional Affairs (replaced Lord Chancellor's Department).
    DCWDesignated Case Worker from the CPS; usually not a lawyer.
    DecarcerationThis involves the process of removing people from institutions (e.g. prisons; mental hospitals) and sentencing the offender to a programme of community care. (See also Decarcerationist.)
    DecarcerationistBelieves that prison walls should be torn down and that a criminal's punishment should be in the community (alternative sanctions).
    Defendant (DEF.)Person standing trial or appearing for sentence; the accused.
    DevianceClassical theme in Criminology that explains the causes of crime. (See also Crime.)
    Diminished responsibilityThe Homicide Act 1957 s 2(1) provides that:
    • ‘Where a person kills or is a party to the killing of another, he shall not be convicted of murder if he was suffering from such abnormality of mind (whether arising from a condition of arrested or retarded development of mind or any inherent causes or induced by disease or injury) as substantially impaired his mental responsibility for his acts and omissions in doing or being a party to the killing’.
    A successful plea of diminished responsibility reduces liability from murder to manslaughter. (s 2(3)).
    DisclosureInspection of legal documents and evidential material; mutual exchange of evidence by prosecution and defence of all relevant information held by each party relating to the case.
    DiscontinuanceNotice given by the court, on instruction by the CPS, that they no longer wish to proceed with the case; CPS may reopen case at any time.
    DismissalNotice given to the court by the CPS that the case is dismissed.
    District judgeA judicial officer of the court whose duties involve hearing applications made within proceedings and final hearings subject to any limit of jurisdiction (previously known as ‘Stipendiary Magistrates’).
    Divisional courtAs well as having an original jurisdiction of their own, all three divisions of the High Court have appellate jurisdiction to hear appeals from lower Courts and tribunals. The Divisional Court of the Chancery Division deals with appeals in bankruptcy matters from the County Court. The Divisional Court of the Queen's Bench Division deals largely with certain appeals on points of law from many Courts. The Divisional Court of the Family Division deals largely with appeals from Magistrates' Courts in matrimonial matters.
    DockEnclosure in criminal court for the defendant on trial.
    DTTODrug Treatment and Testing Order; part of ‘Community Sentence’.
    ECHREuropean Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (The Convention); also refers to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
    EFHEarly first hearing: The early listing before a bench of Magistrates of a straightforward case where a plea of guilty is anticipated (usually motoring offences or shoplifting). Usually dealt with (on the prosecution side) by a designated case worker (see DCW).
    Either-way offenceAn offence for which the accused may elect the case to be dealt with either summarily by the Magistrates or by committal to the Crown Court to be tried by jury.
    EnforcementMethod of pursuing a civil action after judgement has been made in favour of a party. Process carried out by Magistrates' Court to collect fines and other monetary orders made in the Crown Court.
    EstateThe rights and assets of a person in property.
    ExecutionSeizure of debtors' goods following nonpayment of a court order.
    ExecutorA person or persons specified to carry out the provisions of a will.
    ExemptTo be freed from liability.
    ExhibitItem or document used as evidence during a court trial.
    Ex ParteIn the absence of a party to the proceedings. Usually means a one-sided application under judicial review (now ‘on the application of’).
    Expert witnessA qualified person giving evidence on a subject in which they have expertise in a trial (e.g. a medical practitioner; forensic examiner; computer specialist). Experts can give evidence of opinion, and be given permission by the court to sit in court to hear other witnesses before they give evidence.
    FEEMonies payable on issue of a claim or subsequent process (e.g. a statutory declaration made in Magistrates' Court).
    GBFGrievous bodily harm, defined in DPP v Smith as meaning ‘really serious harm’. GBH also includes psychological harm (see Burstow [1998] HL).
    Going equippedI.e. for theft or burglary, or cheat (contrary to the Theft Act 1968).
    GuardianA person appointed to safeguard/protect/manage the interests of a child or person under mental disability.
    HandlingStolen property.
    Hate crimeGroup harms which are aimed at specific minority groups (e.g. homosexuals); hate crimes involve racial intimidation, ethnicity, religion, or other minority groups. Includes assaults, graffiti, property attacks.
    HDCHome Detention Curfew (also electronic tagging).
    High courtA civil court which consists of three divisions:
    • Queen's Bench (can be known as King's Bench Division if a King is assuming the throne) – civil disputes for recovery of money, including breach of contract, personal injuries, libel/slander
    • Family – concerned with matrimonial matters and proceedings relating to children, e.g. wardship
    • Chancery – property matters including fraud and bankruptcy.
    HomicideThere are a number of offences involving homicide. The two most important are murder and manslaughter. They share a common actus reus – the killing of a human being. Involuntary manslaughter differs form murder in terms of the mens rea required, whereas, it is the availability of one of a number of specific defences that distinguishes voluntary manslaughter form murder. (See Provocation; Diminished responsibility; Intention.)
    Hostile witnessA witness seemingly biased against the person calling them as a witness and evading what they said in a previous, out of court, statement. If the court agrees, they can be cross-examined by the person calling them.
    HRAHuman Rights Act 1998.
    Indictable offence A criminal offence triable only by the Crown Court. The different types of offence are classified 1, 2, 3 or 4. Murder is a class 1 offence.In camera In private. Exceptionally, the public and usually press, can be excluded and Magistrates can sit in private. Usually in youth or family courts.
    InjunctionAn order by a court either restraining a person or persons from carrying out a course of action or directing a course of action be complied with. Failure to carry out terms of the order may be punishable by imprisonment.
    InquisitorialRefers to civil code justice systems (e.g. Germany; France; Spain; Greece) in which the ‘inquisitorial’ judge has primary responsibility to investigate the case.
    Insanity As the defence of insanity concerns the effect of psychological conditions upon responsibility, the question whether a defendant can take advantage of the defence is a legal question and is not resolved simply by reference to the medical evidence. The legal definition of insanity is contained in the M'Naghten Rules (1843):
    • Everyone is presumed sane until the contrary is proved
    • It is a defence for the defendant to prove that he was labouring under a defect of reason, due to disease of the mind, such that he either did not know the nature and quality of his act or, if he did know that, he did not know that what he was doing was wrong.
    Intention (mens rea)The mens rea for a number of offences is defined in terms of ‘intention’ or ‘with intent to…’, or ‘intentionally’ etc. indicating that recklessness will not suffice. Where it is not the defendant's aim or purpose but he foresaw that it was a virtually certain result of his actions then the jury may infer that he intended it. (See Moloney[1985] HL; Hancock and Shankland [1986] HL; Nedrick[1986] CA; Savage and Parmenter [1991] HL).
    IntoxicationAlthough a lack of mens rea caused by voluntary intoxication will ‘excuse’ a crime of ‘specific intent’, the defendant may be convicted of an offence of ‘basic intent’ despite his lack of mens rea. (See Majewski [1987] HL; Lipman [1970]).
    JSBJudicial Studies Board; body which advises Lord Chancellor on the training of Magistrates.
    JudgeAn officer appointed to administer the law and who has authority to hear and try cases in a court of law.
    JudgementFinal decision of a court.
    • Relating to the administration of justice or to the judgement of a court
    • A judge or other officer empowered to act as a judge.
    JurisdictionThe area and matters over which a court has legal authority.
    Juror(See Jury) A person who has been summoned by a court to be a member of the jury.
    JuryBody of jurors sworn to reach a verdict according to the evidence in a Crown Court (or High Court in defamation (e.g. libel) actions; also in an inquest).
    Justice of the Peace (JP)A lay Magistrate. Member of the public appointed to administer judicial business in a Magistrates' Court; unpaid and usually not a lawyer. Also sits in the Crown Court with a judge or recorder to hear appeals and committals for sentence.
    JuvenilePerson under 18 years of age.
    LawThe system made up of rules established by an act of parliament, custom or practice enjoining or prohibiting certain action. (See also Common law.)
    Law LordsDescribes the judges of the House of Lords who are known as the Lords of Appeal in Ordinary.
    Law reports‘Test’ cases that lay down important legal principles. Over 2000 law reports published each year (e.g. ‘All England Law Reports’ – All ER). Each case is given a reference to explain where exactly it can be found (i.e. year, volume e.g. criminal appeal reports: Cr App R. or Queen's Bench Division: QBD and page number).
    Limited rightRight by virtue of the HRA (see HRA) – so that, within the scope of the limitation, the infringement of a guaranteed right may not contravene the Convention.
    Listing questionnaireThis form is used to ensure that all issues are resolved and that the parties are ready for trial. Used for Fast Track and Multi Track claims only.
    LitigationLegal proceedings.
    Lord ChancellorCabinet minister who acts as Speaker of the House of Lords and oversees the hearings of the Law Lords. Responsibilities include supervising the procedure of courts other than Magistrates' or Coroners Courts and selection of judges, Magistrates, Queen's counsel and members of tribunals (see DCA).
    Lord chief justiceSenior judge of the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) who also heads the Queen's Bench Division of the High Court of Justice.
    Lord justice of appealTitle given to certain judges sitting in the Court of Appeal.
    MagistrateOr Justice of the Peace (JP) – carries out legal duties in the local criminal court (see Magistrates' Court). JPs are unpaid and lay persons (not legally qualified); they deal with most criminal cases in less serious offences (summary and triable-either-way e.g. minor theft, criminal damage, public disorder and motoring offences). When sitting in the Family Proceedings Court they deal with a range of issues affecting families and children, and on special committees they deal with gaming and betting shop applications.
    Magistrates' CourtA court where criminal proceedings are commenced before Justices of the Peace who examine the evidence/statements and either deal with the case themselves or commit to the Crown Court for trial or sentence. Also has jurisdiction in a range of civil matters (e.g. family court).
    Malice aforethoughtA misleading term, signifying the mens rea for murder, i.e. an intention to kill or cause grievous bodily harm (see GBH).
    Malicious woundingInflicting grievous bodily harm (see GBH) offence under s 20 OAPA 1861, punishable with a term of imprisonment not exceeding five years. GBH can include very serious psychological harm (see Ireland and Burstow [1998] HL).
    Manslaughter There are several modes of committing manslaughter:
    • Constructive manslaughter. Also known as ‘killing by an unlawful act’, this offence is committed where the defendant intentionally commits an unlawful and dangerous act resulting in death.
    • ‘Reckless’ manslaughter requires Caldwell- type recklessness with respect to some injury.
    • Provocation – manslaughter. A person (the defendant), who killed with malice aforethought will, nevertheless, be acquitted of murder and convicted of manslaughter if, at the time of the killing, the defendant, as result of provocation, suffered a sudden and temporary loss of self – control and the jury are satisfied that the reasonable man would, in the circumstances, have done as the defendant did.
    • Diminished responsibility – manslaughter. If the defendant killed with malice aforethought but was, at the relevant time, suffering from diminished responsibility, then s/he will be convicted of manslaughter (see Ahluwalia [1993]).
    Master of the Rolls (MR)Senior judge of the Court of Appeal (Civil Division).
    MCAMagistrates' Courts Act 1980.
    McKenzie friendUnqualified person who can be allowed by the court to assist a defendant informally. The name ‘McKenzie friend’ technically disappeared after a Leicester community charge case; although it is often still used. The defendant has a right to such assistance unless there are compelling reasons to disallow it.
    Mens reaThe term refers to the state of mind expressly or impliedly required by the definition of the offence charged. Most serious (and certain lesser) crimes require the prosecutor to establish some mental element, e.g. an intention to or recklessness concerning an assault or criminal damage. (see actus reus). In the case of murder, the prosecution must prove that the defendant intended to kill or cause some serious harm.
    MinorSomeone below 18 years of age and unable to sue or be sued without representation, other than for wages. A minor sues by a next friend and defends by a guardian.
    MitigationReasons submitted on behalf of a guilty party in order to excuse or partly excuse the offence committed in an attempt to minimise the sentence.
    Murder Murder is committed where the defendant, intending to kill or cause grievous bodily harm (GBH), caused the death of a human being. The offence carries a mandatory penalty of imprisonment for life (life imprisonment – life sentence).
    Newton hearingA ‘trial within a trial’ to determine the facts in the event of dispute following a ‘guilty’ plea (e.g. the amount stolen; were injuries caused by fists or feet?).
    Next friend(See Guardian.) A person representing a minor or mental patient who is involved in legal proceedings.
    NOMSNational Offender Management Service; new Government agency since 2004 ‘joining up’ Prison and Probation Services.
    Non-molestationAn order within an injunction to prevent one person physically attacking another.
    NPSNational Probation Service.
    OASysOffender Assessment System used by the NPS in Pre-Sentence Reports and offenders' risk assessment.
    Oath(See Affirmation.) A verbal promise by a person with religious beliefs to tell the truth.
    Official solicitorA solicitor or barrister appointed by the Lord Chancellor and working in the Lord Chancellor's Department. The duties include representing, in legal proceedings, people who are incapable of looking after their own affairs i.e. children/persons suffering from mental illness.
    OmissionApart from those offences defined specifically in terms of an ‘omission to act’, English law imposes liability for omissions only where it can be said that the defendant was under a duty to act. There is no general obligation to act for the benefit of others. The duty to act to save or preserve the life of another arises only in a number of stereotyped situations (e.g. parental duty; doctor's duty; see Airdale NHS Trust v Bland [1993] HL).
    Oral examinationA method of questioning a person under oath before an officer of the court to obtain details of their financial affairs.
    Original offenceWhere an offender breaches certain court orders (e.g. Community Sentence; CD etc) they can be dealt with for the original offence as well as for any new offence.
    OrderA direction by a court.
    PartyAny of the participants in a court action or proceedings.
    Penal noticeDirections attached to an order of a court stating the penalty for disobedience may result in imprisonment.
    Personal applicationApplication made to the court without legal representation.
    PleaA defendant's reply to a charge put to him by a court; i.e. guilty or not guilty.
    Power of arrestAn order attached to some injunctions to allow the police to arrest a person who has broken the terms of the order.
    PrecedentThe decision of a case which established principles of law that act as an authority for future cases of a similar nature.
    Pre-Trial Review (PTR)A preliminary appointment at which the Magistrates or District Judge consider the issues before the court and fix the timetable for the trial.
    Prosecution(See also CPS.) The institution or conduct of criminal proceedings against a person.
    ProsecutorPerson who prosecutes (see Prosecution; CPS).
    ProvocationA common law defence, amended by s 3 of the Homicide Act 1957. It is a defence to murder only and applies where the defendant killed the victim with malice aforethought but acted under a sudden and temporary loss of self – control (see Malice aforethought).
    PSRPre-Sentence Report produced by the Probation Service.
    Qualified rightRight by virtue of the HRA (see HRA) so that in certain circumstances and under certain conditions, it can be interfered with.
    QuashTo annul; i.e. to declare a sentence no longer valid.
    Queen's bench divisionSee High Court.
    Queen's Counsel (QC)Barristers of at least ten years standing may apply to become Queen's Counsel. QCs undertake work of an important nature and are referred to as ‘silks’, derived from the court gown that is worn. Will be known as King's Counsel if a king assumes the throne.
    RaceProcess of social construction and a social role model through the various means of socialisation (i.e. family, school, peers etc). Racial classifications, a process of labelling over time outside of the family.
    RecklessnessFor most offences recklessness as to whether a particular consequence will result from the defendant's actions or as to whether a particular circumstance exists, will suffice for liability. For certain crimes, recklessness bears a broader meaning. This used to be determined by the Caldwell-type (objective) recklessness and has now been superseded by the ruling in R v G [2003] HL. Therefore, the ‘reasonable person test’ will now no longer apply. Now for criminal damage (including arson) Cunningham-type (subjective) recklessness applies which imposes on the prosecution the burden of proving that the defendant him/herself was aware of the particular risk of the consequence occurring or the circumstance existing (see: Caldwell [1982] HL; Cunningham [1957]).
    RecorderMember of the legal profession (barristers or solicitors) who are appointed to act in a judicial capacity.
    Registrar(See District Judge.) Registrars and deputy registrars were renamed District Judges and Deputy District Judges respectively in the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990.
    RemandTo order an accused person to be kept in custody or placed on bail pending further court appearance.
    Reparation orderAn object of sentencing (and a form of sentence operating only in the youth court) i.e. reparation to a victim. The term is also used more generally to mean ‘making good’ by a defendant and may feature in mitigation. It is also a statutory basis for deferment of sentence (Crime and Disorder Act 1998).
    ReprimandWhereas an adult may be cautioned, a juvenile who admits an offence, may be reprimanded or warned by the police under a statutory scheme, instead of being prosecuted.
    Restorative justice (RJ) Form of Criminal Justice that seeks to ‘repair’ harm as between offenders and victims (see Crime and Disorder Act 1998).
    Right of audienceEntitlement to appear before a court in a legal capacity and conduct proceedings on behalf of a party to the proceedings (e.g. solicitor).
    SecurityDeposit (see Surety) – or other item of value left with the court on grant of bail.
    Sex offender registerLocal record maintained by the police for which certain sex offenders are obliged to provide information about themselves and their whereabouts.
    SIStatutory Instrument. Rules or regulations made by a minister of state acting under an Act of Parliament. Also called ‘delegated legislation’ or ‘Secondary Legislation’.
    Silk(See Queen's Counsel.) A senior barrister sometimes referred to as a leader or leading counsel.
    SlanderSpoken words which have a damaging effect on a person's reputation.
    SolicitorMember of the legal profession chiefly concerned with advising clients and preparing their cases and representing them in some courts. May also act as advocates before certain courts or tribunals; not generally in Crown Courts.
    Specific intent crimesAn offence of specific intent is one for which the prosecution must prove intention with respect to one or more of the elements in the actus reus. Recklessness will not suffice (see Basic intent crimes). The significance of the distinction between offences of specific intent and basic intent is that whereas a lack of mens rea resulting from voluntary intoxication will excuse in the case of an offence of specific intent it will not excuse for crimes of basic intent. Specific intent crimes include:
    • Murder (Beard [1920])
    • GBH with intent (s 18 OAPA 1861; Bratty [1963])
    • Theft (s 1 Theft Act 1968; Majewski [1987])
    • Burglary with intent to steal (s 9 Theft Act 1968; Durante [1972]).
    SSRSpecific Sentence Report. A focused form of PSR (see PSR). Usually done ‘on the spot’ in court by the Probation Service (NPS).
    StatementA written account by a witness of the facts or details of a matter.
    Statutory Instrument (SI)A document issued by the delegated authority (usually a Government minister or committee) named within an Act of Parliament which affects the workings of the original Act, e.g. The Prison Rules 1999 confers authority on prison governors to make rules relating to the operation of prisons under the Prison Act 1952).
    Stay of executionAn order following which judgement cannot be enforced without leave of the court.
    Strict liabilityNot all offences require proof of mens rea. By a crime of strict liability is meant an offence of which a person may be convicted without proof of intention (mens rea), recklessness or even negligence. The prosecution are only obliged to prove the commission of the actus reus and the absence of any recognised defence (see Adomako [1998]).
    SubpoenaA summons issued to a person directing their attendance in court to give evidence.
    Summary offence(See Indictable; Either-way offence) A criminal offence which is triable only by a Magistrates' Court.
    Summing-upA review of the evidence and directions as to the law by a judge immediately before a jury retires to consider its verdict.
    SummonsOrder to appear or to produce evidence to a court.
    Summons (Jury)Order to attend for jury service.
    Summons (witness)Order to appear as a witness at a hearing.
    Supreme court of judicatureCollective name for: High Court of Justice; Crown Court; Court of Appeal.
    SuretyA person's ‘stands surety’ i.e. gives an undertaking to be liable for another's default or non-attendance at court.
    Suspended sentenceA custodial sentence which will not take effect unless there is a subsequent offence within a specified period.
    TaggingElectronic tagging/monitoring (see Home detention curfew).
    TortA civil wrong committed against a person for which compensation may be sought through a civil court (e.g. personal injury; neighbourhood nuisance; libel etc).
    Trial windowA period of time within which the case must be listed for trial.
    TribunalA group of people consisting of a chairman (normally solicitor/barrister) and others who exercise a judicial function to determine matters related to specific interests (e.g. Employment Tribunal).
    TWC/TWOC/TWOCKINGTaking a conveyance without consent (usually a motor vehicle).
    VerdictThe finding of guilty or not guilty by a jury.
    VictimThe victim of an offence, sometimes called the aggrieved.
    Ward of courtThe title given to a minor who is the subject of a wardship order. The order ensures that custody of the minor is held by the court with day-to-day care of the minor being carried out by an individual(s) or local authority. As long as the minor remains a ward of court, all decisions regarding the minors upbringing must be approved by the court, e.g. transfer to a different school, medical treatment etc.
    WardshipHigh Court action making a minor a ward of court.
    Warning‘Final Warning’ under the statutory scheme of reprimands and warnings for juveniles only.
    Warrant of committalMethod of enforcing an order of the court whereby the penalty for failing to comply with its terms is imprisonment.
    Warrant of deliveryMethod of enforcing a judgement for the return of goods (or value of the goods) whereby a bailiff is authorised to recover the goods (or their value) from the debtor and return them to the creditor.
    Warrant of executionMethod of enforcing a judgement for a sum of money whereby a bailiff is authorised, in lieu of payment, to seize and remove goods belonging to a defendant for sale at public auction.
    Warrant of possessionMethod of enforcing a judgement for possession of a property whereby a bailiff is authorised to evict people and secure against re-entry.
    Warrant of restitutionA remedy available following illegal re-entry of premises by persons evicted under a warrant of possession. The bailiff is authorised to evict all occupants found on the premises and re-deliver the premises to the plaintiff.
    WitnessA person who gives evidence in court.
    Wounding or malicious wounding with intent(See GBH) Wounding i.e. causing grievous bodily harm with intent (mens rea – see Belfon [1976] CA; Bryson [1985] CA; Purcell [1986] CA). An offence under s 18 OAPA 1861. The maximum penalty is a term of imprisonment for life (life sentence). To amount to a ‘wound’ the inner and outer skin must be broken; a bruise is not a wound (‘a break in the continuity of the whole of the skin; a ‘rapture of an internal blood vessel’; see JCC (a minor) v Eisenhower [1984] QB). Breaking a collarbone is not ‘wounding’ under s 18, but amounts to GBH s 20 OAPA 1861 (see Wood [1830]).
    YOIYoung Offender Institution (prison for young offenders, usually under 18, at times up to 21).
    Youth justice BoardGovernment agency dealing with young and juvenile offenders.
    YOTYouth Offending Team. Inter-agency dealing with reports on and community sentences for juveniles.


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    Zander, M. (2001) ‘Should the legal profession be shaking in its boots?’, New Law Journal, 369.
    Zander, M. (1999) The Law Making Process. London: Butterworths.
    Zander, M. (1988) A Matter of Justice. Oxford: OUP.
    Zimring, F.E. and Hawkins, G. (1995) Incapacitation: penal confinement and the restraint of crime. Oxford/New York: OUP.

    Internet Sources and Useful Websites

    Acts of Parliament:

    The Auld Report 2001 – Review of the Criminal Courts in England & Wales:

    Black Police Association:

    British Crime Survey (BCS):

    British Transport Police:

    Commission for Racial Equality and Racism:

    Criminal Justice System of England and Wales:

    Crown Prosecution Service (CPS):

    Death Penalty:

    Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA):

    DCA & Magistrates:

    Her Majesty's Court Service:

    HM Inspectorate of Prisons:

    HM Inspectorate of Probation:

    HM Prison Service: Office:

    Howard League for Penal Reform:

    Identity Fraud (CIFAS):

    Independent Police Complaints Commission:

    International Crime Victim Survey (ICVS):

    Judicial Studies Board:

    Jury Service:

    Law Society of England/Wales:

    Legal Services Commission (CLS) (formerly ‘legal aid’):

    Local Criminal Justice Boards (42):http://www.lcjb.cjsonline.orgLondon Probation Service:' Association: Police:http://www.met.police.ukMinistry of Defence (MoD):

    National Association of Probation Officers (NAPO):

    National Association of Youth Justice:

    National Probation Service:

    National Reassurance Policing Programme (NRPP):

    Office of National Statistics: Reform International:http://www.penalreform.orgPolice:

    Police Information Technology Organisation (PITO):

    Prison and Probation Ombudsman:

    Prison population statistics:

    Prison Reform Trust:

    Scottish Prison Service:

    Sentencing: Justice & Prisons:

    UK Parliament:

    Victim Support:

    Women in Prison:

    Youth Justice Board:

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