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Punitive reactions by ministers or the judiciary seek to deter future riots. But if such measures undermine the perceived fairness and legitimacy of the criminal justice system and worsen police-community relations, they could prove counter-productive

By Christopher Gilson


Ministers clearly believe that harsh sentences for those convicted in the recent disorder, and the arrest and prosecution of those involved (even in minor ways)will create strong disincentives for future potential rioters. The government has also found like-minded judges, magistrates and prosecutors to give added impetus to this push in the immediate riot aftermath. But Chris Gilson points to voices suggesting a significant downside. Sentences that are disproportionate for the offences that have taken place will likely be overturned. And enforcing ‘collective punishments’ on whole households by removing benefits and social housing for the families of those convicted may be hard to enforce and is legally dubious. Allied with aggressive post-riot policing, such tactics may only exacerbate existing tensions in high-stress urban areas

Topics: HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology, JN101 Great Britain, KD England and Wales
Publisher: Blog post from London School of Economics & Political Science
Year: 2011
OAI identifier:
Provided by: LSE Research Online

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