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Constructing justice in an island community: honorary police and the parish hall enquiry system in the Channel Island of Jersey. / Helen M Miles

Swansea University Author: Helen M Miles

Abstract

This thesis describes and evaluates an alternative to formal Court processing that is in regular everyday use in the Island of Jersey. The Parish Hall Enquiry system is of great antiquity and like the Honorary Police system upon which it depends, its origins lie in very long-established forms of com...

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Published: 2007
Institution: Swansea University
Degree level: Doctoral
Degree name: Ph.D
URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa42251
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Abstract: This thesis describes and evaluates an alternative to formal Court processing that is in regular everyday use in the Island of Jersey. The Parish Hall Enquiry system is of great antiquity and like the Honorary Police system upon which it depends, its origins lie in very long-established forms of communal organisation. Presided over by a Centenier (an elected, unpaid, parish official) in the local parish hall, the current system has evolved through 800 years of customary practice. The system operates within an open model that means almost anything and everything is possible when it comes to dealing with dispute resolution. Enquiries have no basis in statute law and sanctions levied at Parish Hall are not considered to be criminal convictions. As part of a prosecution process, the Centenier is empowered to enquire into the circumstances surrounding any offence committed within the boundaries of the parish, consider the facts presented, and either charge an offender to appear before an examining magistrate or propose an alternative sanction at parish level. The research suggests that Centeniers are able both to engage parties in serious and realistic discussion about offending and possible remedies and to encourage most offenders to take responsibility for their actions. Observation of the process provides evidence of considerable communication skills, and of reintegrative outcomes. Although sometimes criticised as an anachronism, the Parish Hall Enquiry has retained a high degree of resilience and support and a significant level of use as Jersey society has changed. It offers a very rare example of a traditional form of non-Court-based justice operating routinely in a modern context, and avoiding some of the problems associated with the formal criminal justice process.
Keywords: Criminology.;Law enforcement.;Social structure.
College: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences