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Examining The 1974 Guildford Pub Bombings Criminology Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Criminology
Wordcount: 3594 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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The Guildford pub bombings took place on 5th October 1974. The Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) has successfully detonated two bombs in two different public houses in Guildford. Those pubs were chosen due to its British Army personnel. Bombings killed four soldiers, one civilian and wounded 65 people.

The Police faced massive pressure to identify and arrest PIRA bombers. Two months later, in December 1974, police arrested the Guildford Four:

Gerry Conlon

Paul Hill

Patrick Armstrong

Carole Richardson

There were convicted for bombings and spend 15 years in the prison. The prosecution relied only on their confession as the main evidence. However, the Guildford’s confessions were collected under pressure and by coercion. It included torture, threats against the family, 48 hours of detention, not recording the evidence supporting the witness statement and his alibi. The case was investigated again by the police and new evidence came into account. The one of detectives found a typed note from the one of ‘interviews’, which were edited, changed and deleted later on by the police during the first investigation.

It can be concluded that the police manipulated with evidences to present the case as they wanted to. The Guildford Four were released in October 1989 and their conviction was quashed (Carrabine, Cox, Lee, South and Plummer 2008, Moisidis 2008, Reiner 2000, Rozenberg 1994, Savage and Milne 2007 and Whitton 1998).

The role of criminal investigation procedures in miscarriages of justice and their impact

Misconduct is a broad topic and can be described as a serious breach of duty and trust. It can include violence, fraud, theft, sexual harassment, gross incompetence, distorting and destroying evidence, serious negligence, drug use and dealing, perjury and discrimination (Punch 2009).

In more specific sense, misconduct of police actions can be defined and associated with breaking the internal disciplinary regulations. Due to the occupational culture, there are many available opportunities for misconduct during the criminal investigation. Police officers have to deal on the daily basis with tasks that generate aggression and violence. If they make an error in their judgment, that may lead to overreaction. The different types of misconduct include: corruption, brutality and deviance (Mollen Commission 1994 and Punch 2009).

Miscarriages of justice in most of the cases are linked and identified with wrongful convictions (Savage and Milne 2007). They occur when the innocent person has been convicted for the crime that he/she did not commit, the correct verdict has not been said, as there was a denial of the truth (Kyle 2004 and Nobles and Schiff 2000).

The main types of miscarriages of justice include:

Fabrication of evidence,

Allegation of intimidation and violence during interrogation,

Unreliable identification of an offender by the police or witnesses,

Unreliable expert evidence,

Unreliable confessions resulting from police pressure or the vulnerability of suspect,

Non-disclosure of evidence by the police or prosecution,

The conduct of the trial,

Problems associated with appeals procedures (Savage and Milne 2007 and Rothlein 2008).

From the other hand, miscarriages of justice ware in most cases associated with Irish terrorism in the 1970’s (Mullin 1990). In that time, police officers would see it as a moral duty for miscarriage of justice to justify greater good for society (Punch 2009).

That was also the timeline when cases of the Birmingham Six, the Gunros Three, the Guildford Four, the Bridgewater Four, the Maguire Seven, Judith Ward or John Joseph Boyle, came to light that pointed out miscarriages of justice to community and legal system (Reiner 2000).

In the case of the Guildford Four’s, the ‘confession’ was taken under pressure and coercion, it was also the only one evidence that found them guilty. From the law enforcement’s points of view, the crucial concern and aim during the criminal investigation has been to obtain a confession from the main suspect.

Traditionally, police officers tend to see the confession as the bedrock of the criminal investigation and warranty to the successful case in the court where the guilty conviction can be given (Maguire 2003 and Sanders and Young 2003).

The importance of ethics and morals to criminal investigative processes

Ethical policing is based on the universal expectations of approach and behaviour that administrate basics norms of human interactions with others. Ethical policing does not concentrate on morality of police officers and the institution of policing; it refers to morality that is reflected through variety of roles and different institutional purposes. Ethical policing is not directly concentrated on the morality of police officers in their private life, but it is concentrated on the way they act and react when providing police services on duty (Kleinig2009).

Miscarriages of justice negatively affect the process of criminal investigation. However, the nature and role of ethics in the control of policing powers and policing process was one of the major developments in policing during the recent years (Wright 2007).

The compromise between the high ethical standards and values of criminal investigation is typically labelled as the ‘noble cause corruption’ statement which links closely with miscarriages of justice and the criminal investigation (Reiner 2000).

Traditional corruption can be identifying as misuse of the professional position, usually abuse of the position of trust and power, which aims to achieve economic, sexual or otherwise personal gains.

‘Noble cause corruption’ is more threatening type of corruption then traditional corruption, even though is less obvious. It can involve wide range of different types of police officers, both rotten apple and the golden apple.

‘Noble cause corruption’ is seen as a mindset that allows to belief that ‘the ends justify the means’ and for the greater good of the society. It is the ethical dilemma between the process of solving the case or the end results (Bayley 2010 and Crank and Caldero 2004).

This can explain that closed mindsets and stereotypical point of view about suspects during the criminal investigation process and miscarriages of justice are closely linked (Savage and Milne 2007). In some extreme cases it is possible to see police officers who act and became as a full-time criminal due to their unethical and misconduct of actions (Leuci 2004).

Corruption in policing happens when police officers care too much about their work and they become emotionally involved in process of taking ‘bad guys’ of the streets. Their judgments becoming subjective based on their emotions. They believe that their inappropriate action will be justified with the positive and successful outcome (Crank and Caldero 2004).

Miscarriages of justice are base on doubtful convictions, but the other area of miscarriage of justice in relation to criminal investigation closure plays important role – problematic actions, that lead to the miscarriage of justice at the first place (Savage and Milne 2007).

In case of the Guildford Four it was fabrication of evidence about suspect’s innocence and his alibi to arrest and charge others. They also experienced intimidation, torture, threats about their family and providing fabricated confession from the witness.

Actions of the police officers aimed at putting in prison people responsible for the death of 5 and wounding of 65, but it should not be done through all available costs.

It is necessary to mention, that no matter how appealing and tempting, it is always against the law to break the rules for greater good. The opposite way of thinking would be expose the abuse of the position of authority and power, it would also undermine the trust and also affect public freedom and liberty (Rothlein 2008 and Savage and Milne 2007).

The importance of the professionalization of criminal investigations

Police professionalization can be defined as the process by which policing actions became a profession. Police professionalization can be described by following characteristics:

It is an organised body of knowledge that is frequently improved,

Involved a prolonged training,

Offers the best service to its clients,

Functions originally and controls its members,

Creates its community of followers through professional requirements,

Inflicts a compulsory code of ethics and behaviours,

Provides universal standards of practice,

Provides full professionalism (Lanyon 2009).

Policing professionalization will only be successful if its primary function will be knowledge, rather than functioning as political, organizational and economic agency. It means that the higher education and continuous development is another way of training the officers.

However, counter-argument for police professionalization is that the background and the nature of policing require officers to deal with ‘dirty jobs’ that involve a physical dimension. It would be more useful to have muscular and brave officers, rather than educated and brainy officers (Lanyon 2009 and Stelfox 2008).

The organised body of knowledge must provide training and evidence-based research based on integrated proficiency supported by the practice amongst police officer (National Centre for Policing Excellence 2005).

The role of police is complex and diverse, but never motionless and inactive. Also if police will not be able to deal with complex and intellectually challenging characteristics of policing, then they will have to face routine and ordinary side of the police occupation (Lanyon 2009, Stelfox 2007 and Stelfox 2008).

The connection between miscarriages of justice and reforms of professionalization practices are direct. The main examples include:

Protection for person under interview (Fisher 1977 and Zander 1995),

Right to communicate with a solicitor (Fisher 1977),

The recording of the interview with suspect (Sekar 1997),

The fair treatment of young people and mental disordered people (Fisher 1977).

The protection for people when interviewing will prevent police officers from using force and coercion, threats and/or torture to receive statement. This and the right to communicate with a solicitor were the main concerns of Philips Commission and are fully covered by the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. The recording of the interview with a suspect is also the central element of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.

In 2005 the Association of Chief Police Officers launched Police Reform Act 2002, which included programme on the Professionalizing the Investigative Process (PIP). PIP’s aim was to develop the investigative process through training, improvement and development of police officers who are engaged in the criminal investigation process (National Centre for Policing Excellence 2005).

The role of the state with regards to criminal investigation

The role of the state is extremely important when comes to the criminal investigation process. The Act of Parliament controls and regulates police powers in England and Wales to combat crime and provided codes of practice, was created in 1984, the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.

PACE is mainly concentrated on:

The police powers to search an individual, premises or a vehicle without making an arrest first,

Need to make a record of a stop or encounter,

Powers to gain entry to those premises,

The handling of objects seizes form those searches,

The treatment of suspects in custody,

Handling of detention,

interviewing the suspect,

recording the interview,

identification of people in relation to investigative offences,

keeping of accurate and reliable criminal records,

powers of arrest,

Terrorist situation,

The specific legislation covering the conduct of criminal investigation is contains in the Criminal Procedures and Investigative Act 1996 (Home Office 2010, Kyle 2004, Sekar 1997 and Zander 1995).

In conclusion, the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 aims to create the balance between police powers in England and Wales and rights of the members of the public.

The supervision, management and investigation of normal criminal investigation and that of a critical incident

Critical incident can be described as any event in which usefulness and efficiency of the policing reaction is expected to have important and major result on the self-confidence of the victim, victim’s family and the community.

The main focus on critical incidents was created by the Stephan Lawrence Inquiry. However critical incidents were part of policing and criminal investigation since its beginning. Also it is necessary to improve and maintain stability and trust in policing in those cases, as public distinguish police intentions through action, response and priorities (Alison and Crego 2008 and Grieve 2008).

The main three characteristics of the critical incident are:

Fast-time pressure to resolve the case,

partial information about the incident,

Quickly changing state of incident.

Those problematic characteristics make critical incidents serious, tricky and difficult to manage. It involves an understanding of the problem and complication of the incident.

The decisions are mostly taken under pressure in doubtful, undecided and unproven surrounding.

Managing of critical incidents can be unhelpfully affected by:

Failure of the communication with the victim,

Collapse of communication with family and community,

Lack of appropriate communication with other officers,

Real or perceived policing,

Mistakes with carrying out the investigation (Alison and Crego 2008 and Grieve 2008).

To avoid failure during investigating a critical incident, it is necessary to follow earlier prepared plan:

It may include creation of operational issues to set up minimum standards of control,

Creation of groups based on management structures to deal with different problems at the same time and look at the previous findings from the different point of view,

Offer an advice to the family or a victim by family liaison officers as the reinsurance about police actions, response and priorities,

Look at the different events can be experienced by different communities,

Keep records and justification of any decisions and changes made during the conflict incident,

Debrief offices about current situation and progress of the incident (Alison and Crego 2008 and Grieve 2008).

In the other words, the critical incident can have terrible, catastrophic and tragic consequences for police, victim or victim’s family and community if was handled badly (Newburn, Williamson and Wright 2007).

Management and supervision during the normal, low-profile case differs from the critical incident’s style. Criminal investigation management can be divided into different way of managing and supervision of the incident (Harfield, 2008).

Intelligence-Led Policing (ILP) is express through theory in The National Intelligence Model (NIM). This style of management is used to establish which crimes should be investigated and by whom or other more appropriate interventions. The ILP transmit NIM to investigate the main perception of informing holistic, by taking no notice of volume crime performance.

The Statutory Framework of Investigative Powers includes pre-arrest and post-arrest investigation actions towards the normal incident. Both of those actions are protected by Human Rights from misuse of state powers and support of investigatory decisions.

Managing Evidence involves citizen’s cooperation and use of coercive powers to collect relevant material.

Management of Key Resources is closely linked with managing of evidence and securing the evidence. Key resources can be collected from staff (e.g. forensic scientist, pathologists or behavioural psychologist) and can include use of different skills (e.g. interview skills, detective skills or house-to-house inquire).

Management and supervision of key resources will include taking a statement, reading a statement, searching the crime scene, interviewing the suspect and victim (Harfield, 2008).


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