The separation of powers and independent, judicial decision-making are generally accepted as hallmarks of the rule of law in democratic societies. Yet the exercise of executive discretion remains an important aspect of criminal justice in many areas. Protecting the Public? explores the tension between the rights of individuals detained under criminal and mental health law and the responsibility for public protection in the little-known world of executive discretion over mentally disordered offenders. It is based on extensive and unique empirical research conducted at the UK Home Office, with legal and clinical practitioners, with civil society organisations and by reference to comparative jurisdictions. Central questions considered include: executive, judicial and tribunal decision-making; mental health and criminal law reform regarding serious or high-risk offenders; the influence of human rights law on policy and practice; and the role of civil society, particularly victim interest groups, in public policy. Through its analysis of decisions to release 'high-risk' offenders, this book goes to the heart of the public protection agenda – examining how 'the public' is constructed and what protection is provided by the exercise of executive discretion. This book will be of interest to academic and other researchers, students, policy-makers, law reformers, commentators and anyone interested in the field of criminal justice, mental health law and public policy.
'…recommended to anyone who would like a single source introduction to the topic of restricted patients.'
-John Hughes, Director of Interventions, Hertfordshire Probation Trust
'This is a very relevant and up-to-date book for those interested in the way managerial procedures inform practice within the field of mental health….It is informative and the primary data used provide an insider's view to a heavily-guarded and protected area of public policy.'
-Manos Daskalou, University of Northampton, in the British Journal of Community Justice vol 9
'…Boyd-Caine’s incisive analysis demonstrates that this system is emblematic of the increasing dominance of the risk agenda in contemporary penal policy.'
'There is no area which Boyd-Caine overlooks as she scrutinizes topics as complex as the fallibility of forensic psychiatry and its inadvertent collusion with the notion that mental disorder in itself is a risk factor. The exhaustive analysis offered is rich and satisfying in the justice it does to this far-from-straightforward policy area.'
'For those seeking an insight into the machinations that govern the restricted patient system, this book provides the answer. Further, Boyd-Caine’s grounded and principled exploration of this area goes a long way to provide evidence that the notion of public protection, in its current guise, is both nebulous and profoundly problematic in the false binaries it creates.'
-Eleanor Fellowes, Probation Officer, London Probation Trust in Probation Journal, vol 58 no 4
1. Executive Discretion and the Rule of Law 2. Care and Control 3. The Operation of Executive Discretion 4. Relationships in the System of Executive Discretion 5. Constructing 'the public' 6. Human Rights and the Restricted Patient System 7. Patient Rights and Public Protection