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News Archives: Index

October 7, 2010: Probation Set For Industrial Action

October 5, 2010: Turning Prisoners Into Taxpayers

October 4, 2010: Murder Changes Now In Force

September 20, 2010: Probation Programmes Face Cuts

August 24, 2010: Victorian Poor Law Records Online

August 10, 2010: Justice Job Cuts

July 28, 2010: Prison Violence Growing

July 22, 2010: Police Numbers: Latest Figures

July 22, 2010: New Jurisdiction Rules

July 16, 2010: CCJS On Prison And Probation Spending Under Labour

July 15, 2010: Latest Statistics On Violent And Sexual Crime

July 15, 2010: Latest National Crime Figures

July 15, 2010: New Chief Prisons Inspector

July 14, 2010: Hard Times Ahead For Prisons: Anne Owers

July 14, 2010: Prison Does Not Work: Ken Clarke

July 13, 2010: Criminal Justice Reform: Sentencing and Rehabilitation

July 13, 2010: Criminal Justice Reform Priorities

July 12, 2010: What Price Public Protection, Asks Probation Chief Inspector

July 12, 2010: NOMS has failed, says Napo

July 10, 2010: IPCC To Investigate Death of Raoul Moat

July 9, 2010: Women In Prison: New Report

July 9, 2009: Unjust Deserts: Imprisonment for Public Protection

July 8, 2010: Police Search Powers Change

July 7, 2010: Make 'Legal High' Illegal, Says ACMD

July 2, 2010: Failing Children In Prison

July 2, 2010: Police Buried Under a Blizzard of Guidance: HMIC

July 1, 2010: Freedom To Change The Law?

June 30, 2010: A New Outlook On Penal Reform?

June 30, 2010: Revolving Door Of Offending Must Stop, Says Clarke

June 30, 2010: Ken Clarke: Speech on Criminal Justice Reform

June 29, 2010: No More Police Targets

June 26, 2010: Family Intervention Projects Questioned

June 25, 2010: Cutting Criminal Justice

June 24, 2010: Napo on Sex Offenders Report

June 23, 2010: Closing Courts: The Cuts Begin

June 23, 2010: Strategy To Tackle Gangs

June 15, 2010: Courts and Mentally Disordered Offenders

June 8, 2010: Working With Muslims in Prison

June 1, 2010: Your Chance To Nominate a QC

March 24, 2005: Putting Punishment Before Justice: CSF Report

An important power in the government's drive against crime and anti-social behaviour is putting punishment before justice, argues a new report from independent think tank the Crime and Society Foundation. The Penalty Notice for Disorder (PND) - an on-the-spot fine issued by the police for a range of perceived petty misdemeanours - requires individuals to pay fines of between £30 and £80 regardless of whether they are guilty of the offence. Penalty Notices for Disorder came into law in the 2001 Criminal Justice and Police Act and were rolled out nationally on April 1, 2004.

Coming a week before the one-year anniversary of the national roll-out of PNDs, the Foundation's report, 'Punishment before justice?', raises questions about the sense of punishing people for offences for which they do not admit guilt. It highlights concerns arising from the expansion of financial penalties to tackle 'disorderly behaviour' and issues relating to the operation of the scheme.

The growth of fines in this area reflects the ongoing extension of criminal justice powers with little protection afforded to the vulnerable or innocent. PNDs, the briefing argues, unjustly subject recipients to punishment. They also create a new class of the semi-criminal, who face being put on the fast-track to arrest, prosecution and punishment.

A particularly worrying element, the report argues, is that those who pay PNDs on a no-admission-of-guilt basis could find such payment used as evidence of wrongdoing at a future point in time. This risks creating a new 'semi-criminal' class; those with no formal criminal record yet deemed to be offenders. The report also points out that PNDs could create a two-tier justice system, with the well-off buying their way out of any further action and poorer people having to take their chance in court. Copies of the report are available on the Crime and Society Foundation website.

Crime and Society Foundation director and report co-author Richard Garside said:

'It is a bizarre state of affairs when an individual is required to pay a fine for a crime without going to court and without having to admit guilt. This is putting the desire to punish above the principles of justice. It's a good wheeze for ministers and the police because it creates the illusion of justice being done and crime being tackled. But Penalty Notices for Disorder are more about extending the reach of the police and the criminal justice system than delivering genuine justice or promoting greater safety.'