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Blamestorming, blamemongers and scapegoatsAllocating blame in the criminal justice process$
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Gavin Dingwall and Tim Hillier

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781447305002

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447305002.001.0001

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Putting oneself in harm’s way

Putting oneself in harm’s way

(p.115) Six Putting oneself in harm’s way
Blamestorming, blamemongers and scapegoats

Gavin Dingwall

Tim Hillier

Policy Press

In Chapter Six we consider scenarios where the individual puts herself in a position which heightens the risk of her offending. The legal issue is whether the precursory conduct should have an impact on the defendant’s criminal liability either in the sense that the offence might not be made out or that a defence may be available. There may be a sense of injustice if someone who was to blame for putting themselves in this position subsequently avoided conviction. A number of tensions are evident: the desire to maintain the integrity of the criminal law and the recognition that a strict application of the law could lead to injustice; the need to protect the public from violence and the acceptance that the violence may not have been intended; and the question of whether blame attaches to the initial act or to the offence that followed. Blame, it will be argued, is often used uncritically in an attempt to remedy some profoundly problematic legal issues. Comparative material will show that other countries do not always arrive at the same conclusions; indeed there are examples where blame has been used to justify departure from English law in other Commonwealth jurisdictions.

Keywords:   criminal gangs, intoxication, drugs, blame, precursory conduct, violence

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