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 e.portaluri@shu.ac.uk for further details.

Values in criminology and community justice is available with 20% discount from www.policypress.co.uk.

2 Responses to “How do values, ethics, morals and ‘sides’ function in the criminal justice system?”


  1. 1 policypressblog July 15, 2015 at 4:13 pm

    Apologies – should now be fixed.


  1. 1 Freshlife Trackback on July 4, 2015 at 9:55 am

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