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  • Author or Editor: Clive Sealey x
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What Every Practitioner Should Know
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This book aims to make clear the interconnections between social policy and criminal justice practice, bringing together key social policy concepts within a framework for reducing reoffending rates. The book focuses on the key social policy issues of employment, health and mental health, low income and poverty, housing and family. It shows how understanding and treating these as issues interconnected to criminal justice outcomes can and does lead to improvements in criminal justice practice.

This book enables students and criminal justice practitioners to understand how a social policy focus can better inform practice with those involved in the criminal justice system. It features:

  • A 10 point summary of key points for learning;

  • Chapter heading questions to support independent learning;

  • Tables and graphs to illustrate the text.

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This chapter sets out the key aims of the book. It explains that the book’s key focus is on highlighting how an understanding of key social policy theories, concepts and policies can better inform the work of those directly and indirectly involved in criminal justice practice. The chapter then details that the book is relevant to those both studying and/or working as criminal justice practitioners in a policy and practice context. It concludes by describing the structure of the book, in terms of its sections and chapters.

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This chapter aims to provide a brief overview of what social policy is and its practical relevance to everyday life. Social policy is a term that you may not have come across, but which is likely nonetheless to have had a significant influence on your everyday life, and impacting on your welfare and well-being in numerous ways. This is because at the heart of social policy is a range of measures that can affect levels and quality of healthcare, type of education that is available, quality of housing, income and social care. These are all issues that matter to individuals, families and communities. The chapter aims to outline key features and concepts in social policy, and also why understanding and studying social policy is relevant to you.

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This chapter provides the rationale for the key aim of the book, that of working to improve criminal justice practice. First, the chapter provides a brief and concise outline of what criminal justice practice does, to detail the key aims and objectives. The chapter then details key and interrelated observations about criminal justice practice, showing the importance of the law and social norms to criminal justice practice and the current punitive context in which criminal justice practice operates. The chapter then outlines the current crisis within criminal justice practice and the direct and indirect costs of crime, providing a clear rationale for improving criminal justice practice. This clarifies that the book is about more than providing an understanding of what criminal justice practice is. Rather, its key focus is on improving criminal justice practice by showing how social policy and criminal justice practice are theoretically and functionally interconnected, and that is important to understand this interconnection in order to improve criminal justice practice.

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This chapter presents evidence for the key rationale for this book, that identifying and working with the interconnections between social policy and criminal justice practice has beneficial outcomes for both criminal justice practitioners and service users when applied to practice. While the interconnections between social policy and criminal justice practice may not be obviously evident, this chapter argues that they are linked by five important concepts: justice, security, equality, making a meaningful contribution and rights. These provide the key rationale for the book, as they indicate there is a concrete link between the two fields, suggesting that improving criminal justice practice by reference to social policy is an achievable aim.

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This chapter outlines key issues related to housing, and how these impact on criminal justice practice. In particular, the focus is on changes since the 1980s in housing and housing policy that have had significant actual or potential implications for criminal justice practice and practitioners. The chapter shows that changes in housing tenure have had a signifcant impact on criminal justice practice in significant ways, either directly or indirectly, through for example the issues of homelessnes and residualisation. The chapter concludes with the argument that there are a number of ways in which social policy could improve criminal justice practice, such as a particular focus on the individual and structural causes of homelessness and housing need, and policies that emphasise the prevention of homelessness.

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A standard requirement of probation or parole is often involvement in employment, making evident employment’s importance to criminal justice practice as a route towards rehabilitation It is also relevant to note that rehabilitation through employment is one of the very few types of rehabilitation programmes for which there is definitive evidence that it works – for most type of rehabilitation programmes there is mixed or no evidence of evidence that it works (Ministry of Justice, 2013). The chapter begins with an outline of the evidence of a link between employment and positive criminal justice outcomes, with employment having been shown to increase desistance and reduce recidivism. The specific factors that limit the effectiveness of employment for criminal justice practice are then considered. The importance of employment to social policy outcomes is detailed, together with the changed context over the last 40 years that is impacting the nature of employment policies. Finally, what criminal justice practice can learn from this changed context is considered, in order to identify ways in which social policy can improve criminal justice practice.

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The chapter’s key focus is on detailing why and how criminal justice practice currently deals with physical and mental health conditions and how this could be improved. The chapter opens with an outline of the current context of physical and mental health in relation to the CJS, discussing the evidence of a criminogenic link between physical and mental health and criminal justice outcomes, and also the factors that increase the likelihood of CJS involvement, such as comorbidity, dual diagnosis and ACEs. An analysis of how the CJS manages those with physical and mental health conditions follows, with a particular focus on the cost of prison, but also the wider costs to the CJS. The chapter outlines measures that have been identified as ways to improve the outcomes for those with physical and mental health conditions in the CJS. Finally, there is a summary of how a social policy approach to dealing with physical and mental health, focused on universalism, citizenship, equivalence and integration, could improve the outcomes for criminal justice practice.

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This chapter focuses on the criminal justice practice approach to substance abuse. It begins by highlighting the high prevalence of substance abuse in the CJS, despite the general trend since the mid-1990s towards a decrease. This prevalence together with the criminogenic nature of substance abuse makes it a particular concern for criminal justice practice. The punitive approach of the CJS in dealing with substance abuse is considered alongside alternative approaches, such as harm reduction, decriminalisation and regulation of the drug market. This leads to an analysis of how a social policy focus could improve criminal justice practice. This details the need for criminal justice practice to move away from an individualised and narrow approach to risk management towards a focus on social harm and the comprehensive causes of substance abuse, including personal, social, financial and emotional causes, and criminal justice practice that seeks to provide as broad range of measures and services as possible to prevent and break the cycle of substance abuse.

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In this chapter, the focus is on low income and poverty and their links to crime. There are a number of criminological and non-criminological theories that make an explicit link between crime and poverty. The chapter starts by distinguishing between absolute low income and poverty, and then rationalises the rest of the chapter’s focus solely on poverty. It then analyses the evidence for and against a link between poverty and crime. This shows that crime and its effects hurt those living in poverty the most, something that should lead to a primary focus on what should be done to stop people living in poverty being victims of crime. However, criminal justice practice strongly emphasises crime prevention through what is typically referred to as crime reduction strategies, particularly situational crime prevention. The chapter analyses the limitations of this approach, and this leads to a discussion of how a social policy focus on the social problems leading to poverty, particularly a lack of power, can improve outcomes for criminal justice practice.

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