Worlds apart:
: Offenders and magistrates causal attributes for offending

  • James Sharp

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The purpose of the research was to investigate the difference in attributions of offenders and magistrates about the factors that led to offending behaviour. Difference in beliefs between offenders and magistrates, about seriousness of some common offences and factors believed to be motives for offending, justification of offending and neutralisation of responsibility for offending were also investigated. The effect that differences in attributions between offenders and magistrates and how these influence the way in which offenders are dealt with in the criminal justice system was investigated. The attitude of criminal justice system professionals, and magistrates towards offenders was also investigated to find out if they affect court sentencing decisions, and the treatment and punishment imposed in an attempt to reduce offending. My research has shown, that offenders and magistrates hold significantly different attributions about the factors that influence people to offend, and about offence seriousness. Offenders and magistrates also hold significantly different beliefs about motives for offending, justification of offending and neutralisation of responsibility for offending. The UK Government Crime Reduction Policy since 1997, has been strongly related to the ‘What Works’ approach. This has influenced sentencing policy and the treatment of offenders. A major strand of the policy has been the introduction and implementation of the What Works’ approach and the use of Cognitive Behavioural Accredited Programmes within the Probation Service and Prison Service to change the behaviour of offenders and reduce recividism (Harper and Chitty 2005). Based on my research findings recommendations are made in the final chapter of the thesis for modifications to the present approach, and the treatment of offenders.
Date of Award12 Jun 2009
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Teesside University
SponsorsNational Probation Service for England and Wales
SupervisorRoger Sapsford (Supervisor) & David Woodside (Supervisor)

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