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Title: Decisions on diversion : discretion and individuals' movement between the criminal justice system and healthcare agencies
Author: Cowen, E. L.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2011
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This thesis examines the policy of diversion for mentally disordered offenders (set out in the Home Office and Department of Health review of Health and Social Services for Mentally Disordered Offenders (The Reed Report, 1992)) from a therapeutic jurisprudence perspective, querying whether the exercise of discretionary judgement by sentencing judges, psychiatrists and probation officers facilitate diversion. The thesis uses qualitative interviews with psychiatrists, probation officers and Crown Court judges to explore the role of professional discretion in the implementation of the policy of diversion. Using a hypothetical scenario, interviews explored how professionals approach the task of sentencing and preparing pre-sentence reports; what factors they consider, what they describe as their purposes, and how they resolve any conflicts between their various aims. In examining the exercise of discretion in this way, the study moves analysis of barriers to diversion beyond accounts of structural impediments (for example, limited resources) and instead explores how such structural factors are expressed in individual discretionary judgements. The study also examines how such structural factors interact with individual beliefs about the purposes of diversion, and circumstances in which it will be appropriate. Interviews suggested that despite recognising the importance of therapeutic outcomes, sentencing judges expressed concerns regarding the ability of healthcare services to guarantee public protection, and expressed divergent views regarding whether therapeutic disposals compromised the punitive import of sentencing. Interviews with psychiatrists found disagreement on the extent to which recommendations should be influenced by concerns with public protection and concern regarding whether resources were appropriately used on those referred by the court. In demonstrating how such concerns may promote non-therapeutic outcomes, this study suggests ambiguities in the normative foundations of diversion policy, and the complex interests professionals involved in its implementation are required to balance render discretionary decisions a potential obstacle to successful diversion. The study therefore concludes by suggesting means by which diversion policy might be developed to better promote therapeutic outcomes.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available