Routledge Q&A with author Peter Joyce

Peter Joyce, author of Criminal Justice: An Introduction, 3rd Edition sat down with us to discuss the new edition of his book. Read the Q&A to get an in depth look at Joyce's perspective of the book.

The first edition of this text was published back in 2006, and since then the UK justice system has changed in various different ways. What have been some of the challenges in keeping the book up to date, and why is it important for students to understand the changing nature of criminal justice?

One key challenge is to keep abreast of the changes and, in particular, the rationale for making them. Important sources for this include official publications and Parliamentary debates which have been used throughout this new edition.

What are the main challenges face by students in studying criminal justice, and how does your book help?

The criminal justice system changes frequently. Students need to understand the changing nature of the criminal justice system in order to make reasoned evaluations regarding the strengths and weaknesses of new ideas that have been put forward to criminal justice. Hopefully, the new edition will provide them with the information on which to make such judgements.

Similar question, what are the main challenges you face in teaching, and how does your book help?

Delivering up-to-date material is a key concern and the new edition pays particular attention to developments that have taken place since 2010, including the impact of Brexit on criminal justice policy. It is also crucial to put this material across in a readable, user-friendly way, which I feel the new edition does this quite effectively. Directing readers to places where they can continue to obtain contemporary material is a further way in which the ideas and themes of the book can continue to be kept up to date following publication.

Just in advance of the new edition, we have a new government and a new Justice Secretary. David Lidington is the fourth person in the position since the publication of the last edition, following Chris Grayling, Michael Gove and Elizabeth Truss. What does this tell us about the politics of criminal justice, and what can the book teach us about this?

The criminal justice system operates in a political environment and Ministers have their own priorities as to how the criminal justice system should be shaped and what concerns should be fundamental to its operations. One example of this which is contained in the new edition affects prisons policy, the aims and delivery of which have undergone several changes since 2010.

The new edition has a new chapter on victims of crime. Why did you feel this was an important addition to the book? What can the study of victims add to our understanding of the justice system?

Previous editions of the book referred to several important aspects of ‘victims policy’ but this was spread across the chapters. Clearly victims play a key role in the criminal justice system and the new chapter is designed to illustrate the important role that they play by examining both theoretical and practical aspects of ‘victims policy’. This new chapter also discusses contemporary manifestations of victims of crime, in particular hate crime and domestic violence.

You have also revised the chapter on policing. There has been a lot in the news recently about cuts to the police, particularly in the wake of terrorist atrocities. What can students learn about the powers of the police in the new edition?

It is a cardinal principle of policing in the UK that the police operate with the consent of the general public. Operating within the law and using powers that are spelled out in legislation and Codes of Practice are key methods that underpin policing by consent. The new edition clearly identifies police powers but also, in connection with governance and the relatively newly-created office of Police and Crime Commissioner, discusses the political environment within which police powers are used and professional constraints imposed by requirements contained in the Police Code of Ethics.

The issue of privatization looms heavily over the justice system, particularly in regards to the prison and the probation services. What can the book teach us about these developments.

Developments of this nature are not entirely new but have assumed increased importance since 2015 as a way to deliver criminal justice services whilst reducing the level of public expenditure. This new edition identifies the main approaches that have been adopted in connection with privatization and by evaluating their strengths and weaknesses will enable readers to assess whether this development is likely to be further extended in the future.

Criminology continues to be a popular subject for undergraduates. Why do you think this is?

There has always been a notion that criminology is vocationally relevant in the sense that it leads to employment in one of the criminal justice agencies. Although the established criminal justice agencies have been reduced in both size and functions since 2010, crime remains a significant problem for contemporary society and thus jobs in criminal justice remain even if they are delivered by private sector companies or various forms of third sector agencies. It is for this reason that criminology retains its popularity in the HE sector. The transferable skills that are taught in all undergraduate criminology courses also equip graduates with a range of employment opportunities outside of criminal justice - in areas such as personnel, retail, policy evaluation and teaching for example.

Your book includes a section called ‘Keeping up to date’ where you give a list of helpful resources that readers can use to keep abreast of alterations in the changing response to crime by the criminal justice system. What tips do you recommend to record and keep track of this information?

Periodically, consult web sites that are relevant to the courses you are studying or to your planned future career. Add links to any relevant material you have discovered to the reading that your tutors have suggested should be consulted for the topics they are covering.

You are currently working on a new edition of Criminology and Criminal Justice: A Study Guide. What can we expect from this, and how will it differ from Criminal Justice: An Introduction?

The Study Guide is a smaller book which is geared at those commencing a course of study in criminology in HE. It seeks to achieve two key purposes - to provide readers with a flavour of the key areas that they will study (most notably theories of crime, the response to crime, penology and the study of punishment and research methodology) and also with how to research, prepare and present material on which their performance will be assessed. One of the main ways through which the latter aim is accomplished is through a series of exercises which run across the book which asks readers to prepare some material. Having done this, a chapter of the book is set aside to provide feedback on the kind of information that should be included in the discussion for which they were asked to prepare.

"Joyce’s third edition of Criminal Justice, again, presents a rich source of information that is critical in nature, and technically precise in detail. Readers are presented with thirteen chapters of clean, clear analysis of a diverse and complex criminal justice system. The readership of this book will undoubtedly be broad given the accessible written style and useful breaks in text of definitions and terminology. This text is a must to undergraduate and postgraduate students of criminology and criminal justice, as well as it being a ‘go-to’ reference resource for many more people who work or have an interest in this area."

Dr Paul Taylor, Senior Lecturer in Criminology, Department of Social and Political Science, University of Chester

"As an introduction, Dr Joyce provides details of all the expected elements of the Criminal Justice System but he goes on to do so much more. With a realist approach, he captures many of the current tensions and debates in a way that will appeal to anyone with a passing interest in the subject, the novice criminologist and the more experienced researcher. For the student approaching any new topic, this is the ‘go to’ book for Criminal Justice."

Ashley Tiffen, Senior Lecturer in Policing, Department of Business, Law, Policing and Social Science, University of Cumbria

"The new edition of Criminal Justice: An Introduction is essential reading for anyone seeking a comprehensive and critical understanding of criminal justice. Peter Joyce unpacks the topic in a lively, incisive manner that is both challenging and accessible to students and lecturers. Highly recommended."

Stephen Case, Professor of Criminology and Director of Studies, Department of Social Sciences, Loughborough University

"This book provides an excellent introduction to the world of Criminal Justice and is a must read for students of Criminology. Its clarity and in-depth understanding and knowledge of the workings of the Criminal Justice system makes it a brilliant starting point for research in the area."

Dr Joshua Skoczylis, Lecturer in Criminology, School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Lincoln

"This new edition provides for a balanced and appropriately set out introductory text for students of criminology, law and criminal justice. It clearly explains most areas of Criminal Justice, recognising both the processes involved and the system more broadly, while assuming no prior knowledge for the reader."

Gareth Addidle, Lecturer in Criminology/Criminal Justice or Law, School of Law, Criminology and Government, University of Plymouth

"This new and expanded edition is well structured, and offers comprehensive and up to date content for students studying criminology. It provides a broad overview of the ever-changing character of criminological debate and of the recent changes impacting the criminal justice system. The contemporary nature of the material and topics covered, combined with questions raised by the author, makes this text an authoritative and stimulating resource."

Dr Jo Brayford, Senior Lecturer in Criminology & Criminal Justice, Faculty of Business and Society, University of South Wales

"This is a highly accessible and scholarly resource for those studying criminal justice. The author has skilfully balanced the theories, policies and practices underpinning the criminal justice system whilst also highlighting the key debates and current challenges within the subject area."

Seema Kandelia, Senior Lecturer, Westminster Law School, University of Westminster

"This genuinely accessible and highly readable text provides just what a student of criminology needs to come to terms with the workings of the criminal justice system. Its coverage of the criminological field is comprehensive and concise. After reading this book, students will have all that they need to find their way own way around the world of crime and an understanding of how society responds to it."

Christopher Crowther-Dowey, Senior Lecturer in Criminology, Nottingham Trent University, UK

Do you think that Criminal Justice: An Introduction, 3rd Edition could be right for your course? 
We would be happy to send you a complementary exam copy for your review. Request your copy here.


1. The causes of crime and deviance

2. The measurement, prevention and detection of crime

3. The criminal justice system: an overview

4. The police service

5. The prosecution of offenders

6. The judiciary

7. Punishment and sentencing

8. Prison and its alternatives

9. The juvenile justice system

10. Victims of crime

11. Diversity and the criminal justice system

12. Criminal justice policy: the global dimension

13. Conclusion: austerity, privatization and the future criminal justice landscape

Key terms

Keeping up-to-date


Explore the new edition

Criminal Justice: An Introduction, 3rd Edtion

About the Author

Peter Joyce is Principal Lecturer in Criminology at Manchester Metropolitan University.

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