Archive for the 'Criminology and Criminal Justice' Category

A missed opportunity: Why the Law Commission got it wrong on hate crime

Jon Garland, Department of Sociology, University of Surrey

Jon GaJG picrland and Neil Chakraborti are co-editors of Responding to hate crime: The case for connecting policy and research, published by Policy Press last month.


Recently the Law Commission published the results of its year-long investigation into the efficacy and scope of hate crime laws. The consultation, a reference from the Ministry of Justice, had the specific remit of examining the ‘aggravated’ offences and incitement to hatred legislation in order to see if these should be extended to include groups that were not previously protected.

That the Law Commission was asked to undertake this review at all was a reflection of the increased social significance of hate crime and also (and relatedly, of course) the heightened importance of hate crime legislation. Supporters of this legislation argue that it has a specific, symbolic importance in that it reflects society’s condemnation of the victimisation of marginalised and disadvantaged groups. However, one of the issues examined in this process was the inequality that exists in the provision for different victim groups within the mish-mash of hate crime legislation. The criminal justice system currently recognises just a handful of different identity communities as hate crime victim groups – the so-called ‘five strands’ of race, religion/faith, sexual orientation, disability and gender identity – about which the police are required to collect hate crime statistics. Surprisingly, though, some of these ‘five strands’ receive more protection from the law than others. For example, the aggravated offences provision within the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 currently covers race and faith groups, but not those relating to disability, sexual orientation or gender identity. Similarly, in the case of the incitement to hatred legislation, race, faith and sexual orientation groups are included, but not disability or gender identity.

So how has this rather odd situation come about? Well, the explanation is, in some ways, quite simple: there is no single all-encompassing ‘Hate Crime Act’ that covers different types of offences and all identity groups, but instead there exists a number of different pieces of legislation that have been drawn up over time which have, gradually, included one group after another in a rather piecemeal fashion. This has resulted in the disparities of provision that the Law Commission was asked to investigate.

Under a degree of expectation, the Law Commission therefore published the findings from its extensive investigations at the end of May. The Commission concluded, perhaps rather disappointingly, that a further, Government-sponsored review into a wider set of questions surrounding the aggravated provisions was necessary. It also, rather frustratingly for some disability campaigning groups such as the Disability Hate Crime Network, declined to recommend that the incitement legislation be broadened to include the strands of gender identity and disability. The Commission’s reasoning for this was that it had not been persuaded of the ‘practical need to do so’, that prosecutions might in any case be rare and that new incitement legislation might ‘inhibit discussion of disability and transgender issues’.

This verdict means that disabled and transgender communities still find themselves ‘out in the cold’ regarding the incitement laws. It also means that some groups appear to be accorded a more ‘privileged’ position than others within the five strands, which is an unfortunate outcome of the Commission’s work. Although the justification provided by the Commission for declining to make this recommendation  has some logic, it does seem a shame that it failed take the opportunity, in the words of the Disability Hate Crime Network, to extend the law’s coverage to ‘capture a unique, specific and grave type of wrong’.





Police and Fatal Shootings

Maurice Punch

Maurice Punch

by Maurice Punch, author of Shoot to Kill

A fatal shooting is the ultimate in police use of power. Hence it is vital to achieve clarity and transparency on the reasons for it to ensure trust on the police use of firearms. After the massacre at Hungerford (1987) British policing became semi-armed: and the standard approach was geared to restraint, firing single rounds and aiming for the body mass – to stop and not to kill. That changed dramatically at Stockwell in 2005 when Met officers shot dead Jean-Charles de Menezes at point-blank range with several hollow-point bullets to the head. This can only be fatal and was indisputably “shooting to kill”. It raised a host of issues but the police and the Home Office went silent and have managed to avoid a fundamental debate. What should have been explored was:

- the law, national policy, operational guidelines, tactics, weapons and ammunition;
– the operational chain of risk assessment, briefing, encounters, post-incident evaluation and accountability;
– and the aftermath of a fatal shooting regarding support for family and friends, informing stakeholders and the media and cooperating with investigations.

If this had been brought unambiguously into the public domain after Stockwell it would have proved valuable in the current controversy surrounding the Mark Duggan shooting. We now need to know what has been determining the Met`s firearm`s policy and tactics. CO19, for instance, has become highly professional and skilled. To what extent is this a “militarization” of policing – written about extensively in the US – and has it altered the ground rules? Could it be that the Home Secretary`s priority on cutting crime, the Mayor`s emphasis on swift results and the Commissioners “total policing” have pressured officers and hardened tactics?

This is particularly relevant when the police get it wrong with irreversible consequences. Some of the most serious disturbances in the US have been when police have shot dead young black men who were unarmed. This also forms the key issue in the shooting of Duggan: was he unarmed at the moment he was shot? Thanks to the restraint of the Duggan family following the inquest verdict – and the proactive Met approach – there has been none of the mass violence that occurred in 2011. But this case raises two important factors:

Firstly, there are the objective elements about the context, risk assessment, equipment, briefing (was it recorded?) and the actual encounter. These are important in assessing the nature of the assignment, the appropriateness of the “hard-stop” tactic and whether alternatives were considered.

Secondly, there is the subjective experience of the officers. The evidence on firearms use is that there is always a degree of visual and aural distortion. In seemingly life-threatening situations any implement, a piece of a hoover in one case, viewed as a weapon – or a sudden gesture can lead to an officer firing, with the defence of a reasonable fear of fatal danger. The officer may even become convinced that there was a weapon when none was present. Officers do misperceive the threat in the split-seconds of a shooting and this will continue to happen however hard they train.

The conflict in assessing liability then comes from this tension between the objective factors and the subjective experience of the officer. Inquests and juries having seen and heard the evidence are burdened with assessing the validity of the latter – and a head-camera can`t look inside an officer`s mind – and tend to side with the officer`s account, to the disbelief of relatives and friends of the victim and the media.

Politicians and the police have kept the profound and unresolved implications of Stockwell out of the public arena. If they had taken the opportunity to inform the public fully on police use of firearms it might have defused the controversy and turbulence around the disputed shooting of Duggan.

Maurice Punch, 11-01-14, Amstelveen, The Netherlands.

How do values, ethics, morals and ‘sides’ function in the criminal justice system?

Marian Duggan

Marian Duggan

by Marian Duggan, co-author of Values in criminology and community justice, which published in September.

The UK criminal justice system is rapidly changing in light of the ongoing neoliberal turn, advancing towards a focus on expansion, results and privatisation. It is perhaps unsurprising therefore, that criminology as a discipline remains as popular as ever with students and scholars, practitioners and policy makers. These shifts and their wider social impact prompted us to ponder upon contemporary ‘values’ in criminological research, theory, policy and practice.

Taking Howard Becker’s 1967 article ‘Whose Side Are We On?’ as a starting point, we set out to investigate how values, ethics, morals and ‘sides’ function in and around the criminal justice system. Two and a half years later these earlier ponderings resulted in the publication of Values in criminology and community justice.

In the book we analyse a range of issues, often evidencing the multiple and, at times, contradictory discourses concerning victims and offenders, punishment and protection, rights and responsibilities. We cover traditional ground such as values and ‘sides’ when working with offenders, victims, the police or wider communities, and also address issues pertaining to prisons, the changing probation service and desistance.

More nascent areas of study such as ‘green criminology’ are also covered alongside new and fresh approaches to existing areas, for example how feminism, racism and identity impact on criminological theorising. Critiques of neoliberalism and its impacts are also present with issues such as the ‘big society’, economics of justice, desistance and contract research being tackled by contributions from experienced and eminent scholars in the fields of criminal and community justice.

The timeliness of this publication is not only evident in light of the changing nature of the criminal justice system, but also links to the theme of the 2013 British Society of Criminology conference, where the discipline was quite literally ‘put on trial’ and charged with failing to deliver. Criminology’s strengths and limitations were laid bare in the compelling prosecution and defence statements which ensued, but (thankfully!) in the end Criminology was acquitted of all charges.

However, during the trial, what became evident was the broadness and malleability this area of scholarship affords researchers seeking to improve, enhance or enrich the lives of others. No one discipline – Criminology included – will ever have all the answers to questions concerning how to address offending, victimisation, deviancy and harm. Nonetheless, the thoughtful arguments put forth in the Values book clearly illustrate the importance of continually querying responses to crime, criminality and criminalisation in light of developments in social, political, legal and moral values.

A launch is being organised at Hallam View, Sheffield Hallam’s premier conference suite, on Wednesday 11th December 2013, 5–8pm. Please contact Elena Portaluri on 0114 225 6280 or for further details.

Values in criminology and community justice is available with 20% discount from

Dr Richard Stone on the launch of his book Hidden Stories of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry

The launch was held at the House of Commons in Committee Room 14, the Gladstone Room. The event was sponsored by Sadiq Khan (Labour), Sir Peter Bottomley (Conservative) and Tom Brake Liberal-Democrat), thus demonstrating cross-party support for the ant-racist agenda set by the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry.


The text was edited by the playwright Stephen Sharkey. The reading was directed Melissa Dunne and was performed by three professional actors: Tom Golding, Kelechi Okafor and Robert Macpherson (pictured).

There was prolonged applause.  I did a brief question and answer session and several people spoke.

Leroy Logan, retiring Chief Superintendent, spoke of his experience of years as a black Metropolitan Police officer

Doreen Lawrence then spoke movingly about her feelings 20 years on from the brutal racist murder of the eldest of her three children.

She also told us of the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust for young people in its fine building in Bermondsey. It was a pleasure to see her face light up when talking about this positive outcome from the disaster 20 years ago.

I then encouraged people to give financial help to replace three central Governmental grants to the Stephen Lawrence Centre, none of which has been renewed this year.

Alison Shaw, Director of the Policy Press, encouraged people to read the book and the audience needed little persuading.

Not surprisingly the best outcome of the event was the networking which took off from the minute the business was over.

I ended the evening with a call for a united anti-racism movement. It was a memorable event and the first of  I hope many more.

Richard Stone April 2013

Hidden Stories of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry: Personal Reflections is available at

Developments in the drug debate

Legalising drugs coverby Philip Bean

The drugs debate has started up again. This time the questions raised are more than those surrounding cannabis, but of decriminalisation of all controlled drugs. It has also attracted those in the highest political positions, including the Deputy Prime Minister and the Prime Minister himself. Driving the debate is a familiar theme: that the war on drugs has failed and we need a new approach. The answer it is said is to decriminalise, i.e. no longer make it an offence to possess controlled drugs where possession is for personal use. This, it is argued, has a number of advantages; it will save police time, reduce the number of offenders and thereby the costs of court appearances, and reduce the impact of crime, especially organised crime.

This is not a new argument. The Home Affairs Select Committee considered it in 2002 and said that, whilst it accepted that to decriminalise the possession of drugs for personal use might appear to remove some obstacles, it would add others, not least that it would send the wrong message to the majority of young people who did not use drugs. (paras 67-70)¹. The Committee was also concerned about the possible recruitment of new users. For example, it said it might give suppliers an incentive to seek to expand the users market. It would also engage enforcement agencies in a murky area, for how can you distinguish between user and supplier, particularly small scale social suppliers? The Committee also said it might also diminish respect for the law, as it would embrace or offer a fundamental inconsistency: that is it is permissible to use drugs, but not permissible to supply them – few, it seems, suggest that supplying drugs should be decriminalised.

There are some commentators who say ‘The War on Drugs’ no longer exists, nor has it for a number of years. Capitulation, they say, occurred long ago; what is in vogue nowadays is decriminalisation by the backdoor. That is to say, law enforcement agencies and the Courts take a “softly, softly” approach to possession of illegal drugs, even for heroin and cocaine, and particularly ecstasy, where many are given a caution and few go to prison. In this they are partially correct: well over half of all drug offenders are cautioned (slightly fewer for possession of crack cocaine and heroin i.e. about 40%), and only about 9% of all drug offenders are sent to prison, almost always for supply, with only about 4% of all drug offenders going to prison for possession.

Yet, however appealing the decriminalisation argument may appear, certain questions remain unanswered, the most difficult being: would it apply to juveniles? Would children under 16 be allowed to possess heroin or cocaine? If not, we shall have a curious form of prohibition applying to a certain age group, and strangely at odds with the restricted use of tobacco and alcohol applied to juveniles nowadays. As for the other claims, it might not save much police time, for it is doubtful if the police target a drug, more likely a drug user, where the aim is mainly to disrupt supply. It would certainly reduce Court appearances but this could also be achieved by additional use of cautions. How about the claim that it would take out of the criminal justice system an otherwise law-abiding group of drug users? This is, however, one of the least appealing features of the current debate. Why are drug laws given special attention? We do not say the Theft Act criminalizes an otherwise law-abiding group of burglars or shoplifters.

Finally, would it reduce the impact of organised crime, a claim made by many critics? Clearly not, if juveniles were prohibited from use. And anyway, the claim is not to legalise all drugs, i.e. allow them to be purchased freely and without controls, but to refrain from prosecuting those who have small amounts for personal use. As long as there are controls, there will be efforts to circumnavigate them.

What this, or any debate about decriminalisation, should do is concentrate more on sentencing practices and the variations in use of cautions and other non-custodial sentences throughout England and Wales, where evidence for such variations is powerful. It should also concentrate on questions about the justification for banning the use of certain substances, where we continue to pile on banning orders for new drugs at an alarming rate, with little or no consideration for, or evidence of, their harmfulness. Increase the use of cautions for possession, by all means, but look too at other matters which are more urgent.
1.    The Government`s Drug Policy is it Working? (The Governments reply to the Third Report from the Home Affairs Committee Session 2001-2002.) HC 318 Cm5573

Professor Philip Bean is Emeritus Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Loughborough and the author of Legalising Drugs; Debates and Dilemmas published by The Policy Press 2010.

The problem of adolescent-to-parent abuse

by Amanda Holt, author of Adolescent-to-parent abuse, publishing today

Adolescent-to-parent abuse coverThe ‘problem’ of teenagers is rarely off the news agenda. However, the focus of any problem behaviour is nearly always located outside the family home: on the streets, in the classroom, online. In such discussions, parents are frequently constructed as the root cause of the problem and the family home is rarely considered to be a site where adolescent problem behaviour towards parents is a concern.

However, it is becoming increasingly clear to practitioners who work with children and families that the problem of adolescents’ abusive behaviour towards parents is a very real one. Such abuse takes place mainly inside the family home, and it can take shape through physical, emotional and/or economic forms of abusive behaviour. Examples found in my own research include physical violence (and threats to cause physical harm), intimidation and undermining of the parent, and theft and damage to a parent’s property and possessions. Like other forms of family abuse (e.g. child abuse, interpersonal violence, elder abuse), adolescent-to-parent abuse can emerge very subtly and parents often feel a sense of disbelief, guilt and shame at what is happening. Such feelings may be particularly potent in cases of adolescent-to-parent abuse because many people are unaware that such abuse exists, making it hard for parents to talk about their experiences and for others to hear. Parents may also feel particularly silenced because we live in a culture where parents are routinely blamed for the problem behaviour of their children – often formally and publically through the use of criminal justice measures. And with few support services set up to deal with this form of family abuse, and with public policy failing to acknowledge it, it is unsurprising that this form of family abuse is so hidden.

This matters. As a human rights issue, no-one should be living in fear or, or under threat of, physical or emotional harm. As a health issue, the effects on families can be devastating, with long-lasting physical and emotional symptoms which can affect the life chances for parents and their children. As a criminal justice issue, there is evidence that adolescent-to-parent abuse can be part of a wider cycle of family abuse, and intervention here may stop subsequent abusive behaviours.

Fortunately, more people are now talking about it. Both in the UK and internationally, support agencies are developing intervention programmes to help them respond to the problem, although growth is slow because of limited resources and a failure in public policy to co-ordinate and fund a coherent response at national level. Alongside this has been an increase in research on this issue and we are learning more about which families are particularly at risk, how families respond, and how we might best conceptualise this problem at the psychological, social and cultural levels. Adolescent-to-parent abuse: current understandings in research, policy and practice therefore provides a timely overview of the current state of play in terms of what we know about parent abuse through research findings, how we are responding to it in the statutory, voluntary and community sectors, and what we are doing about it through established support programmes and resources. While this book is grounded in the UK political and cultural landscape, it draws on international research, policy and practices to highlight both similarities and differences, and identifies what we can learn from them and how we can go forward in tackling adolescent-to-parent abuse.

Dr. Amanda Holt is Senior Lecturer in Criminological Psychology at the Institute of Criminal Justice Studies, University of Portsmouth. She has published widely in the fields of parenting, youth justice and families and employs a multi-disciplinary approach to her research and analysis.

Adolescent-to-parent abuse is now available to buy from The Policy Press website with 20% discount.

The Policy Press Prize in Criminology at Greenwich University

The Policy Press is pleased to sponsor an annual Criminology prize at Greenwich University, awarded to a student chosen by the course leaders. This year’s winner, Elizabeth Reid, here discusses her reaction to winning the prize and her future career plans:

I was incredibly proud to find out that I had been awarded the 2012 Policy Press prize for Criminology at Greenwich University. , I felt rewarded the many hours of reading and revision and it validated my decision to return to study after working for two years after leaving college. Despite the opportunity for self-development in working for a financial services consultancy in the City, I felt that in order to truly feel a sense of fulfilment in my career I would have to follow my interest in both society and crime and ultimately find a job in the public sector.

As I didn’t immediately progress from college to university (through my own choice) there were some within my family and social circles who didn’t believe I would achieve success academically – but winning The Policy Press prize has definitely been something tangible that bolsters my own belief in myself.

I decided to undertake a degree in Criminal Justice and Legal Studies with the aim of working within the probation service. Probation has always been an area of interest to me as I grew up in South East London and have been involved with people who have experience with the police and the probation service. Whilst the police culture has never appealed to me, I have always understood probation in terms of rehabilitation and reform (whether or not this is true in practice). As a teenager I saw my friends attend Youth Offending Services and noticed the difference some of thestaff were able to make in changing the thought processes of these young people.

I am due to start training as a Community Panel Member for Lewisham Youth Offending Service and am very much looking forward to doing so. I hope that this volunteer work will stand me in good stead to pursue a career within the service once I have completed my degree. I am all too aware of how difficult it will be to begin a career within the Probation Service at a time when the Government are cutting public sector services so dramatically.

I have a firm belief that the problem with young people and crime in London stems from a continual lack of support within the family unit, followed by academic failure due to that lack of support resulting in a deficiency of self-belief and opportunity. This situation is reinforced by scathing media reports and contemptuous public views which results in a self-fulfilling prophecy. It is my hope that as a Youth Offending Team worker or probation officer I will be able to help those caught up in crime to believe that that there is a chance for change and that their own dreams for success are achievable, as well as working through the practical issues involved.

Elizabeth Reid

Should Ken Clarke resign over rape comments?

What started off earlier in the week as proposals to change the way offenders generally are sentenced, soon turned into a media storm when Justice Secretary Ken Clarke made his incorrect, outdated, and downright offensive comments about rape. Accusing the media of adding ‘sexual excitement’ to the story by focusing on rape as opposed to other crimes and suggesting that some rapes are not as serious as others, have resulted in calls for his resignation.

So should he resign? I do my fair share of media work, so have some sympathy with feeling flustered when put on the spot and fearing that I will choose the wrong words and inadvertently upset someone. But Ken Clarke must have realised immediately from the response he got that this had caused an angry reaction, so why dig yourself in deeper? Why not apologise immediately if you did you not mean what you said and simply used the wrong words?

He has, reportedly, sent a written apology to the woman who audibly broke down on the radio phone in when describing what happened to her and the response from the criminal justice system. But he has caused distress to more than that one woman. He has undermined the hard work done by criminal justice and healthcare professionals, by rape crisis workers, by family and friends who support people who have been raped, and has likely caused distress to many who have been raped. In my opinion, Ken Clarke should offer a blanket apology to anyone who was offended by his words and he should sit down and listen to the experiences of people who have been raped by someone close to them. I can guarantee that he would make sure he chose his words more carefully if he really listened to the impact that rape had had one their lives. If he is not willing to do this, he should resign in my opinion.

The Ken Clarke media storm has also meant that a piece of good news has been buried this week. Rape Crisis Centres have just been told whether they have been successful in their funding bids for a contribution towards their costs for the next three years. For the Centres that have been successful, this represents the most stability they have ever had. It is something that the national Rape Crisis movement have campaigned for for many years and which has now come to fruition, with thanks to Home Secretary Theresa May.

I am glad that there will now be more access to Rape Crisis Centres and hope that a more sensible discussion can be had with the coalition government about how the criminal justice system can best improve its response to rape. Whether or not that discussion will include Ken Clarke is yet to be known.

by Nicole Westmarland, co-author of International approaches to rape, published in April 2011.

How should we assess young people who offend?

Assessment in youth justice coverYoung people who offend often present a complex mix of needs, strengths, problems, risks and possibilities for change. Professionals working in this field are faced with the challenge of understanding this complexity as a basis for then deciding how to intervene; the question of how to go about doing this effectively is now the subject of a new book, ‘Assessment in Youth Justice’ by Kerry Baker, Gill Kelly and Bernadette Wilkinson. We have written it for ‘people who care about practice’ with young people who offend and a key premise is that one important way of improving outcomes is to improve the quality of assessments and intervention plans. In the book we argue:

‘Assessment matters. It matters because of the impact it can have on the lives of young people who offend. It matters because of the consequences for victims and communities of the decisions that are made by youth justice practitioners. It matters for organisations that have a responsibility for reducing offending, promoting rehabilitation and protecting the public.’

Whilst there is an extensive literature on core assessment principles and skills in fields such as social work, this often does not address the specific context of youth justice. In addition, where there have been debates about assessment in the criminal justice world these have tended to either adopt a narrow focus on risk prediction or to become polarised arguments about the merits of particular approaches (such as the use of structured assessment tools).

We believe, however, that there is a need for a new resource that draws on knowledge about assessment from other fields whilst also focusing in detail on practice in youth justice. We don’t see assessment as merely a technical or tick-box activity and instead believe that it is a task requiring depth of knowledge and a wide range of skills. The book aims to set out the foundations for good practice but also to prompt practitioners to follow-up on areas of interest for themselves. Just as an assessment should trigger new lines of inquiry or further exploration of particular issues, using a book of this kind should also lead to action on the part of readers. We have written it with the aim of encouraging inquisitiveness and curiosity and we hope that it will be a jumping-off point for exploring new ideas that will help to improve practice.

Kerry Baker, one of the authors of Assessment in youth justice, publishing this month.

Something must be done, now?

Last year, Professor David Nutt, founder of the newly formed Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs, wrote a blog entry in response to the previous Government’s decision to ban methedrone, a so-called ‘legal high’. He commented that ‘the niceties of legal process and proper procedure on drug classification are as nothing beside the media-driven political demand that something must be done, and done now’. Furthermore, he suggested that the relationship between science and politics was at stake as was the very cause of evidence-based policy making. The date was April 1st, but this was not a joke. Nutt had been on a collision course with certain New Labour ministers for some time culminating with his dismissal as the Chair of ACMD on the accusation of ‘trivialising’ the dangers of drugs by suggesting, amongst other things, that ecstasy use was less harmful than horse-riding. This was just one episode in the whirligig surrounding the issue of drug classification and evidence prominent in the media.

Later in 2010 in the aftermath of Nutt’s removal from ACMD and the change of Government came the sensationalist headline in the Guardian that the ‘Government proposes to scrap the need for scientific advice on drugs policy’. This was in response to the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill. Tucked away inside this, alongside proposals to reform the organisation of policing and to establish new regulations about policing protests, was the desire to amend the constitution of the ACMD so that it was no longer necessary to include members with ‘experience in specified activities’. These include medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine, pharmacy, the pharmaceutical industry, and chemistry. In addition ‘persons with wide experience of social problems connected with the misuse of drugs’ may also be dispatched.

In the research paper accompanying the Bill it states that the ‘amendment effectively removes the requirement for the ACMD to have any particular kind of expertise’. Here the operative words are ‘particular kind’, but in the aftermath of the publication of the Bill, trench warfare resumed. Critics such as the Drug Equality Alliance suggested that the Bill is, in effect, sweeping away potential heretics that might seek to use evidence rather than tabloid hysteria to fulfill the need to be seen to be doing something. In response, the minister responsible James Brokenshire commented that ‘scientific advice is absolutely critical to the government’s approach to drugs and any suggestion that we are moving away from it is absolutely untrue’. Such debates mirror those about the evidence-base for the drug classification system, in particular, and heavily politicised areas more generally. Here supporters proclaim policies to be evidence-based whilst simultaneously detractors cry foul that the evidence is neglected. Such debates generate headlines but neither is accurate and rarely can policy be reduced to such straightforward accounts. A different conclusion is that policy formulation is frequently a jumble of evidence-based policy and policy-based evidence. This more sober reading is, however, unlikely to grasp the media headlines.

Mark Monaghan, author of Evidence versus politics

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