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This article examines the theft of migrant workers’ wages in England by their employers, drawing from original accounts and testimonies of a sample of workers employed between 2018 and 2023. It builds on and establishes new conceptual understandings of wage theft by examining it as a violent form of accumulation, with a range of logics and functions including those which are connected to labour processes and the management of labour forces. In making this argument, the article situates the theft of migrant workers’ wages – in this context at least – at the apex of at least three convergent dynamics: namely, the contours of immigration control and attacks on migrants’ rights, a reworking and undermining of regulatory structures relating to labour protections, and ongoing forms of labour market restructuring. As such, it suggests that these dynamics are structural; and furthermore, at a point where each of these policy trajectories is being aggressively pursued, they are intensifying. In dominant narratives wage theft is frequently depicted as something carried out by ‘rogue’ employers, at the margins of labour markets. But in contrast, this article suggests it must be understood as a structurally-situated component of contemporary political economy. Indeed, it is a core contention of the analysis that follows that movements to resist and tackle wage theft must acknowledge these broader connections and the broader political economy of which they are a part.

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Feminists disagree about how best to understand and respond to gendered violence. Disagreements can be due, among other things, to the diversity of feminist perspectives and modes of organisation, different socioeconomic and political contexts, and different conceptions of the state and community. In this article, we explore grassroots feminist discourses on gendered violence in Albania and Kosovo. The two countries have been heavily impacted by gendered violence, but they are also home to a significant grassroots feminist mobilisation. Starting from images and imagination that have characterised this mobilisation, by using the photo-elicitation method, we interview feminist activists and academics about the ways in which they understand and interpret gendered violence, and the strategies and interventions they deem most relevant in addressing it. We offer a contextualised critique of feminist discourses and responses to gendered violence, while highlighting the contradictions and tensions that exist in such discourses and practices.

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This article focuses on sex work governance within multi-agency partnerships and initiatives in Wales. By engaging with notions of carceral humanism, this article seeks to make tangible the ways in which multi-agency partnerships co-opt and assimilate criminologists, activists, third-sector and community organisations, so that partisan commitments to advancing sex workers’ rights are transformed to bipartisan support for non-competing carceral frameworks and solutions. It argues that there is a process of carceral bifurcation that enables narratives of safeguarding and sex work to be utilised to strengthen non-competing carceral conceptualisations of, and solutions to, sex work.

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The NHS is now firmly positioned as a site of immigration control. As the Hostile Environment filters further into the NHS the principle of universality is increasingly disputed. As such, paradoxically, harm is reproduced through an institution which is intended to provide care. Despite the increasing breadth of recognition of the implications of charging migrants within the NHS in England, insights into specific practices within Wales are limited. Therefore, this research starts to address this paucity by providing initial insights into the extent of NHS charging within Wales.

The results from multiple freedom of information (FOI) requests sent to all seven health boards in Wales (carried out between January 2019 and August 2023) suggest that NHS treatment charging is common at scale across all health boards providing secondary care in Wales. In some instances, patients are being charged 150% of the cost of their treatment, and a significant number of patients are being incorrectly charged for care. It also appears that many patients have difficulty paying these charges, with significant outstanding invoices and many health boards resorting to using debt-collection agencies and/or payment plans in an attempt to elicit payment, and patients’ details being shared with the UK Home Office as a result.

Considering the harms which are produced through NHS charging regulations, campaigners and advocates including Patients Not Passports Wales call for charging regulations to be withdrawn from the NHS in Wales and across the UK.

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In Chapter Six, the book concludes by arguing for a broad approach to open justice that recognises the importance of public participation in a model of justice system accountability and does not wholly rely on the news media as a proxy for transparency.

The authors suggest implementing more nuanced and evidence-based approaches to open justice that respond to advances in digital technologies and, in doing so, also attempt to lessen systemic and individualistic harms, including stigmatisation. Recommendations centre on widening public interest court reporting, improving justice data availability and accountability, and increasing resources and investment in the facilitation of public access.

Such an approach prioritises public legal education and access to justice, as well as effective scrutiny of the criminal justice system. The authors contend that the practical application of open justice demands regular scrutiny and debate, to take account of changes in the way that society and the courts work. Overall, their work demonstrates how the principle can be effectively dissected, by attending to the practical realities of its application, and by testing its objectives through socio-legal research.

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Chapter Two provides historical context on the way in which open justice and accountability have developed in England and Wales. It considers modes of accountability in the criminal process, public participation in the criminal courts, and its development in recent decades.

It looks at the place of open justice in a wider tradition of justice system accountability, sitting alongside and underpinning other important tools. As part of this exercise, the authors detail the main methods for contemporary observation of physical criminal court hearings and access to different information types, drawing attention to the main obstacles and gatekeepers.

They also explore the main theoretical rationales for the contemporary approach to open justice which, it is suggested, can be categorised as punitive (shaming), deterring, educational, scrutable (ensuring fairness and proper conduct). The chapter then critiques these various arguments, proposing that understandings of justice system accountability need to recognise their weaknesses and strengths.

The authors introduce one of their core arguments, that policy and law makers should prioritise informational transparency as a means of scrutiny and education, rather than as a means of an individual’s punishment and deterrence.

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Chapter Five draws attention to a much-overlooked aspect of open justice: the implications and side-effects of publicity, arising from both the availability and unavailability of information. Some of these effects have been amplified by digital technology, such as the development of global search engines which are perceived to create indefinite online records of individuals’ criminal convictions.

Undoubtedly, there is a cost and human impact to publicity of criminal court proceedings, whether it is justified as unavoidable collateral harm of the process – or seen as an unwarranted and damaging intrusion of privacy. But equally, in other contexts, there can be a cost for freedom of expression and access to justice in the absence of information.

Though the authors cannot offer full answers based on their preliminary research on the impact of publicity on defendants in the criminal courts (indeed, they contend, some tensions between privacy and transparency can never be ironed out), they propose that systems should be designed to maximise equal and fair outcomes; minimise unnecessary stigmatisation and intrusion on the individuals; and avoid further entrenching existing societal exclusion and inequalities.

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This first chapter introduces the book’s focal theme: the principle and practice of open justice in criminal courts in what is often characterised as the ‘digital age’. That is, the way in which court hearings and information about cases are made publicly accessible in the context of digital and technological advances in the 21st century, and the relationship to principles of transparency, access to justice and accountability.

The authors introduce recent developments in open justice policy and technology in England and Wales that raise, they contend, neglected practical and ideological issues relating to access to justice, individuals’ privacy, and public access to information.

As well as setting out the authors’ methodological approach and the core themes of participatory accountability and transparency, the chapter explains why the book pays particular attention to the functioning and scrutiny of the Magistrates’ courts within the criminal justice system.

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Chapter Three considers the operationalisation of open justice in the context of modernisation, digitalisation and data developments. It focuses on aspects of the HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) programme of modernisation and digital reform including the Single Justice Procedure (SJP) for the prosecution of minor offences, video-enabled justice (VEJ), as well as digitalisation of data processes.

The authors consider a range of questions: how is information about an entirely administrative or virtual process communicated to the public? How is justice system data being collected, processed, and disseminated online, by different public and private sector actors? And to what extent do digital court processes enable the public to engage in the justice system and hold it to account?

The chapter also looks at equality of access to digital justice systems, in terms of funding, technological and legal literacy, as well as access to tools. In this context, the authors discuss power relationships and how technology is changing the dynamic and interactions of the digital and physical court room, making participation more difficult and undermining justice system accountability.

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Digital Transparency, Openness and Accountability in Criminal Courts
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This book examines how major but often under-scrutinised legal, social, and technological developments have affected the transparency and accountability of the criminal justice process.

Drawing on empirical and evaluative studies, as well as their own research experiences, the authors explore key legal policy issues such as equality of access, remote and virtual courts, justice system data management, and the roles of public and media observers.

Highlighting the implications of recent changes for access to justice, offender rehabilitation, and public access to information, the book proposes a framework for open justice which prioritises public legal education and justice system accountability.

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