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You will find a complete range of our monographs, muti-authored and edited works including peer-reviewed, original scholarly research across the social sciences and aligned disciplines. We publish long and short form research and you can browse the complete Bristol University Press and Policy Press archive of over 1500 titles.
Policy Press also publishes policy reviews and polemic work which aim to challenge policy and practice in certain fields. These books have a practitioner in mind and are practical, accessible in style, as well as being academically sound and referenced.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Chapter Four delves beneath the surface level understanding of open justice, looking at the mechanics of the principle: the roles of different media and civil society actors, the design of the channels and platforms and the financial costs (among other features). Because of the idiosyncratically decentralised and piecemeal nature of the justice system, many practices have evolved over time, in inefficient and unjust ways, without purposive design. Some of the inconsistencies have become more apparent and problematic in virtual environments.
As well as attending to the practical detail of court observers’ work, the authors unpack the rationales justifying observers’ presence in court and begin to develop a conceptualisation of open justice that thinks beyond the news media and traditional model of court reporting, despite the trend for limiting certain access to the ‘accredited’ press. In doing so, they consider factors of ‘justice-worthiness’ as well as the ‘newsworthiness’ of cases in court. The chapter also exposes how systemic failures are often mechanical rather than legal faults.
At the latest since the adoption of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989, children worldwide have been regarded as persons with their own special rights. These include rights that are intended to protect them and influence decisions that affect them. But how far these so-called participation rights go and whether they also include political rights is disputed. They oppose social structures that nail children down to a subordinate position, which today is subsumed under the term adultism, the meaning of which is explained at the beginning of the chapter. In this chapter it is discussed, especially with regard to children of the Global South, how far political rights, especially the right of children to vote, can contribute to counteracting adultism as a form of the colonization of children. This question is discussed not only in relation to children living today, but also in relation to future generations and intergenerational justice.
Children in the Global South continue to be affected by social disadvantage in our unequal post-colonial world order. With a focus on working-class children in Latin America, this book explores the challenges of promoting children’s rights in a decolonizing context.
Liebel and colleagues give insights into the political lives of children and demonstrate ways in which the concept of children’s rights can be made meaningful at the grassroots level. Looking to the future, they consider how collaborative research with children can counteract their marginalization and oppression in society.
Children in the Global South continue to be affected by social disadvantage in our unequal postcolonial world order. With a special focus on working-class children in Latin America, this book explores the challenges of promoting children’s rights in a decolonizing context. It gives insights into the political lives of children and demonstrate ways in which the concept of children’s rights can be made meaningful at the grassroots level. The overall perspective of the book is emancipatory for children of the Global South, providing a much-needed refocus for children’s rights through the lens of the decolonization of childhoods. The book recognizes children as actors for a free and just society without violence and discrimination. It informs and interprets the history and present of children’s rights as a medium of resistance, emancipation and liberation. Looking to the future, the book considers how collaborative and participatory research with children, guided by ethical principles, can counteract their marginalization and oppression in society. The book continues and concretizes reflections outlined by the author in his book Decolonizing Childhoods (Policy Press, 2020).