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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 70761 Find in a Library
Title: Background Investigation for Criminal Proceedings in Great Britain
Journal: Revue de science criminelle et de droit penal compare  Issue:2  Dated:(April-June 1979)  Pages:375-379
Author(s): J Verin
Date Published: 1979
Page Count: 5
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: French
Country: France
Annotation: The system of early background investigations of accused offenders carried out by probation officers in Great Britain is described and evaluated.
Abstract: In comparison to France, which just realized the importance of brief background investigations of accused persons by trained individuals at the pretrial stage, Britain has seen such investigations expand to a fifth of the probation officer's caseload. The number of British background investigations for adult offenders grew from 36,637 in 1960 to 167,580 in 1976. According to a Home Office analysis of 469 background reports, the reports do not differ in contents by the type of court requiring the report but rather by the priority of needs as perceived by the probation officers and by probation officers' education. Reports tend to emphasize the positive rather than the negative information about offenders. Many reports lack certain types of information and do not cite information-gathering methods. Report length varies widely. Background reports are used to assist not only the court in sentencing but also the personnel of treatment institutions and probation officers. Information from reports is especially useful for classification of newly arrived inmates. Although the reports do not appear to influence recidivism rates or to be weighted towards penalties other than imprisonment, they do have some influence on sentencing, especially when recommending penalties other than imprisonment. Judges and probation officers agree that the categories of information necessary for sentencing include the nature of the offense, previous record, employment, family relationships, parents or spouse, and the offender's personality. Both groups consider the information on associates, drinking, drugs, and personality inadequate. The analysis of the Home Office concludes that there is little consensus on what the reports should contain. The analysis also suggests that one might consider reducing the number of reports, shortening their length, and preparing different reports for different uses. Notes are supplied.
Index Term(s): Background investigations; Great Britain/United Kingdom; Judges; Presentence studies; Probation or parole officers; Sentencing/Sanctions
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