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Role of the Police in Achieving Aims of the Criminal Justice System

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Criminology
Wordcount: 2344 words Published: 8th Feb 2020

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The following essay is going to be based around the police which will focus on their aims. The essay will also consider the police’s aims with association to the positional statement: “The aims of the criminal justice system are always achieved” discussing arguments which support and disagree with it.

The police have aims that they try to pursue and achieve each day, it is said that “Policing is about the exercise of power and there are competing options for policing priorities and style” (Mawby and Wright, 2005, p. 2). There are four main aims that the police try to achieve in order to bring safety and order across the streets of England and Wales.

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One main aim of the police is to prevent crime. Preventing crime makes the streets of England and Wales safer. “ The 2008/09 British crime survey found, that 67% of respondents ‘strongly agreed’ or ‘tended to agree’ that they had overall confidence in their local police.”(Walker 2009, p.126) The police aim to prevent crime to put the public first to ensure they can live safe lives with the feeling that no harm can come to them. This is a sense of wellbeing. It is seen that “Making the length of a prison sentence conditional upon an individual’s offence history is shown to be a powerful way of preventing crime.”(Vollaard, 2013, Vol 123) The police do this with the aim to ensure that individuals do not reoffend. The thought of prison makes individuals not want to commit crimes due to the fact they loose their freedom. Police also try to prevent crime by patrolling areas at day and night  monitoring behavior, they do this on foot or on bikes they do this to provide a visual presence on the streets. By doing this it reduces the chances of crimes happening in that area or producing to be larger scale crimes.

Another aim of the police is to pursue and bring those to justice that break the law. This means that the police try their best to ensure that the individual who in which committed the crime is punished for their wrong doings. The process of achieving this aim, begins when a crime is reported. Once a crime has been reported then the police consider if they can investigate the case in order to find justice. The aim can only be achieved if there is enough evidence to charge someone for that crime that has been reported. The police try to pursue this aim with minor crimes as well as major crimes with the intention that being punished for minor crimes will reduce the percentage of people who reoffend with more serious crimes.  The police can do this by punishing the offender with; a caution or warning, a community resolution or a penalty notice however prison sentences can also be given. The police aiming to ensure this aim takes place can be seen in the tv program named The Lock Up (The Lock Up, 2014) Within this episode young teenagers are seen committing minor crimes and are arrested by the police and took into custody in order to punish them for their crimes to bring justice because they broke the law.

The final aim that this essay will focus on is how the police aim to protect, help and reassure the community. “Our work in the community is much more important than is generally believed by the public.” (Vollmer, 1998, vol 13 ) police reassure the community by having local officers on call 24 hours a day in order to be there for the public when they need them. People within a community can contact the police when they feel unsafe and in danger and local officers can attend their needs fast. The public is protected by the police at all the times and put them self before the public because the public is the main priority. “In modern society , police departments are enormous bureaucracies that are concerned with their own safety and security as well as the safety of the broader community.”(Robinson and Cussen, 2017, p167) With the aim to reassure the public, this means that to ensure the public always feel safe, protected, loved and have a sense of belonging in their own community, there are local meetings held where local PCSOs speak with normal individuals who live in the area to inform them of what work they are doing to improve the area and where members of the public can discuss any areas of concern or changes they would like to happen.

The criminal justice systems starting point is criminal law. The criminal justice system makes individuals and groups who are committing crimes or have previously identifiable in order to pursue order. Through the system, it is easier to identify behaviors that aren’t seen as acceptable and those that are breaking the law through choice. The system identifies behaviors that are thought to be deviant and criminal through more than one thought, by having the criminal justice system it mores that those who are breaking laws are more likely to be caught and punished than if it wasn’t created.

The positional statement: “The aims of the criminal justice system are always achieved “ has many contradictive views, some for the statement and some for against. The following quote disagrees with the statement, “The criminal justice system doesn’t have a form of apology, it never requires people to apologies for their behavior.” (Pollard et al., 1998) This quotation shows how it is thought that the criminal justice system only punishes people for their behavior but doesn’t show they are sorry for committing the crime and potentially hurting a victim. This can be seen when a shop lifting crime is committed. For example, when goods are stolen from local businesses the criminal only receives a punishment, no formal apology takes place towards the victim and they are still left to fix the offenders mistakes. The quote also shows how individuals feel as if they cannot trust the criminal justice system because they will be left feeling as if they will never be reassured that they are safe or as if the offender didn’t mean to hurt them.

Many individuals feel as if the criminal justice system needs improving. In order for this to happen, “The government has launched a program aimed at making the criminal justice system more effective by improving the processes involved in investigating, prosecuting and trying offenders.”(Government, 2014) The public feel as if in order for the aims of the criminal justice system to be achieved then many improvements need to happen. One of those improvements consists of  supporting the passage of laws. This is so that sentences that are too harsh for considerably minor crimes can be reduced. For example, individuals who have committed crimes such as drug offences are being given sentences longer than those who have committed worse crimes. Some individuals are serving these crimes for the dealing of drugs when some individuals are not being prosecuted for charges such as rape and man slaughter.

Following this, it is thought that the criminal justice system is falling apart. “The criminal justice system in England and Wales is failing victims and witnesses and is close to “breaking point”, MPs have warned.” (Coleman and Shaw, 2016) This is due to the thought that its performance is becoming poorer and poorer through each crime that is reported to the police. Statistics are showing that on average around two thirds of trials in crown courts are constantly delayed or don’t go ahead meaning that justice is never found. In order for the criminal justice system to target its aim, victims and witnesses need to communicate to achieve the best outcome within a court room. However with many job cuts in the police force it can be seen that there are less and less police to help the community meaning not all crimes are looking into or reported to the police. “As of September 2016 there were 122,859 police officers. Comparable records of police officers began in 1996 and this is the lowest number since these records began – and these numbers also indicate that this is the lowest number of officers since 1985.” (Hargreaves et al., 2017, p. 5) The police force has been reducing in numbers since the early 2000’s with less and less police officers being on the streets in recent years.

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Prior to this, many feel as if the criminal justice system achieves its aims because it provides law and order. “The advantage of social law and order is therefore bound inextricably with the criminal justice system’s purpose for existing at all.” (Spade, 2018) The criminal justice system gives a overall implemented way on how individuals should behave in society with a set of rules, known as laws, that need to be followed. When these laws are broken, the criminal justice system brings order. Many feel as if this provides better environment to live in.

“The criminal justice system in England and Wales investigates, tries, punishes and rehabilitates people who are convicted or suspected of committing a crime. A functioning criminal justice system is at the core of a functioning civil society” (House of Commons, 2016, p. 4) This statement is the core support for the positional statement. It supports how the criminal justice system works. The quotation lists specifically what the system does in order to make the UK safe. By having a chronological system, that the public can see it shows that law is being enforced as best as it can be giving individuals something to rely on. The criminal justice systems aim is to create structured boundaries of right and wrong, indicating acceptable and unacceptable behavior through the creation of laws passed through parliament that all of  England and Wales are legally expected to follow.

It is important that Criminal Justice is considered from the aspect of citizens in society. For example poverty is an important factor when looking at crimes. The criminal justice system can reduce crimes in poorer areas of the country by putting more effort into helping kids at a young age to keep out of crime which will decrease the chances of them offending when they are older. “Social issues and social problems including individuals with mental health issues are increasingly dealt with via criminal justice policy and the coercive power of the state rather than via welfares social policies. “(Taylor, Corteen and Morley, 2014). By doing this, it improves the education of children to. This makes people of these communities feel as If they haven’t been forgotten about and if they are still being thought about.

Overall the police have a range of aims in which they try to achieve on a daily basis but it is thought that there may be more aims than is portrayed to the media, questioning whether or not the police achieve these aims. This therefore affects the criminal justice system making it harder to evaluate its effectiveness on society as a whole. Whilst the criminal justice system shows how it is battling crimes it doesn’t inform the public on the crimes that it doesn’t put an end to and those that are seen to be unable to solve. The points raised above show that the aims of the criminal justice system are and are not always achieved through statistics, opinions, information and facts.


  • BBC (2014) West, The Lock Up, Season 02, Episode 04. [Online Video] Available at:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b7PjcAIkFzU [Accessed 7 August 2016]
  • Coleman, C. and Shaw, D. (2016). Criminal justice system near breaking point, MPs warn. BBC News. [online] Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-36394842 [Accessed 2 Nov. 2018].
  • Government.nl. (2014). Improving the performance of the criminal justice system. [online] Available at: https://www.government.nl/topics/administration-of-justice-and-dispute-settlement/improving-the-performance-of-the-criminal-justice-system [Accessed 2 Nov. 2018].
  • House of Commons (2016) Efficiency in the Criminal Justice System: First Report of Session 2016-17 [Online] Available at: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201617/cmselect/cmpubacc/72/72.pdf [Accessed 14 September 2016].
  • Hucklesby, A. and Wahidin, A. (2013). Criminal Justice. 2nd ed. Oxford, p.35.
  • Mawby, R. and Wright, A. (2005) police accountability in the United Kingdom[online] Available at: http://www.humanrightsinitiative.org/programs/aj/police/res_mat/police_accountability_in_uk.pdf [Date accessed: 13 October 2016]
  • Pollard, C., Francis, P., Fraser, P. and Witfield, D. (1998). Keeping the Queens peace. Criminal Justice Matters, [online] 31, pp.14-19. Available at: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09627259808552756?journalCode=rcjm20 [Accessed 2 Nov. 2018].
  • Robinson, S. and Cussen, T. (2017). The Criminology & Criminal Justice Companion. 1st ed. Palgrave, p.167.
  • Spade, A. (2018). The Advantages & Disadvantages of the Criminal Justice System. [online] Legalbeagle.com. Available at: https://legalbeagle.com/8210160-advantages-disadvantages-criminal-justice-system.html [Accessed 4 Nov. 2018].
  • Taylor, P., Corteen, K. and Morley, S. (2014) Preface. In: Taylor, P., Corteen, K. and Morley S. (eds.) A companion to criminal justice, mental health & risk. Bristol: Policy Press pp. xxvii-xxviii
  • Vollaard, B. (2013). Preventing Crime Through Selective Incapacitation. Economic Journal, 123, p.262.
  • Vollmer, A. (1922). Aims and ideals of the police, [online] 13(2), p.255. Available at: https://scholarlycommons.law.northwestern.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1853&context=jclc [Accessed 1 Nov. 2018].


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