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Processing the Delinquent - the second of the two programmes linked to the Block on Public Order - looks at the formal agencies of social control: police, juvenile court, probation officers - entru...sted with law enforcement and the making of official decisions about offenders. The programme traces the chain of decisions that determine the fate of individual offenders as they pass through this system. However much society is concerned with the wider context in which social problems (like vandalism, delinquency or public disorder) emerge, the business of the formal social control system is to make decisions about what to do with individuals.
Metadata describing this Open University video programme
Module code and title: D203, Decision making in Britain
Item code: D203; 06; 1977
First transmission date: 07-12-1976
Published: 1977
Rights Statement: Rights owned or controlled by The Open University
Restrictions on use: This material can be used in accordance with The Open University conditions of use. A link to the conditions can be found at the bottom of all OUDA web pages.
Duration: 00:24:00
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Producer: Carol Haslam
Contributor: Stanley Cohen
Publisher: BBC Open University
Keyword(s): Juvenile delinquency; Magistrates courts; Police - juvenile bureau; Probation officers
Footage description: Stanley Cohen introduces the programme by talking about the processes which contribute to the social problem of vandalism, as demonstrated in the previous programme, D203/05 (1977). He now examines the way in which young people are treated by the apparatus of social control set up to enforce the law. There follows a scene from a Granada documentary Three Faces of Justice, which shows a young boy being questioned and sentenced in a juvenile court. Stanley Cohen describes how since the 1960s the system has appeared to be weighted in favour of the needs of the child. Mrs E Simpson, J.P., chairman of the juvenile bench, describes the support the court gets from social service agencies. When all their reports are considered the magistrate must come to a decision, with the best interests of the child at heart. Mr L A C Pratt, Clerk to the Justices, argues that the interests of the community must also be considered. To be too lenient can be a most unkind way to deal with a child if it leads to a repetition of an offence. In an extract from a Tonight programme, two boys talk dismissively about juvenile courts and Approved School. Mrs Simpson argues that more charges involving vandalism ought to be brought before the courts. Superintendent C. Hasler, Head of the Juvenile Bureau, the agency responsible for bringing charges against young offenders explains how the police decide whether to take a child before a juvenile court or whether to issue the child with a caution. He explains the procedures involved when issuing a caution and the aims of the police when dealing with young offenders. Mrs Simpson criticises the use of the caution by the Police Liaison Bureau. Peter Hylton, senior probation officer, argues that the criteria used by the police, when they decide to prosecute, are too materialistic. They are not sensitive enough to pressures within the home. Superintendent Hasler argues that the juvenile bureau often has to make a decision about a young person from conflicting evidence. The officer in charge has to use a great deal of discretion. Once the matter goes to court it is out of the bureau's hands. Peter Hylton states that the court does not have to follow the recommendations of the probation officer but that the magistrates usually do. Mrs Simpson argues that it makes her job easier if she considers the probation officer to be reliable. Common sense is the thing which matters most for a good magistrate. Mr Pratt states that experience leads the court to make the correct decisions. Stanley Cohen criticises these two concepts of common sense and experience. There follows a further clip from Three Faces of Justice, which highlights the personal and intuitive decisions which form the basis of the system for dealing with young offenders. Superintendent Hasler describes the limits on the police force which means that they cannot successfully tackle the problem of vandalism. Mr Pratt and Mrs Simpson describe the limits imposed on the power of the juvenile court by the 1969 Children and Young Persons Act. Peter Hylton describes how the lack of resources limits the scope of local authorities to deal with young offenders.
Master spool number: 6HT/72235
Production number: 00525_2336
Videofinder number: 3403
Available to public: no