Meeting the demands of justice whilst coping with crushing caseloads? How Sykes and Matza help us understand prosecutors across Europe

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This paper examines the procedural paths taken by our criminal justice systems in dealing with crimes against humans. It highlights our dearth of knowledge in relation to prosecutors work within them despite this being key to understanding how our criminal justice systems work “producing justice” as a whole. It draws together what information is available to highlight how far systems across Europe have moved towards more negotiated forms of justice for a vast majority of cases, despite the professed abhorrence at US style plea bargaining most jurisdictions profess. Utilising Sykes and Matza’s seminal “techniques of neutralisation” as a tool, it highlights how far the proliferation of such modern criminal justice practices has gone to warp the kind of justice produced in the vast majority of cases. It highlights the efforts of prosecutors as largely principled and reasoned in nature but producing a “justice” likely not to resonate with the broader public. It therefore highlights the need for honest reflection upon what is needed from criminal justice systems and the necessity of reform in light of this to ensure our systems remain legitimate. This honest reflection is emphasised as particularly necessary as domestic systems serve as models (and the source of personnel) for transnational and international(ised) criminal justice systems.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-35
Number of pages35
JournalJournal of Criminal Justice and Security
Issue number5-6
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 18 Apr 2019
EventEuropean Society of Criminology Conference: Crimes against Humans and Crimes against Humanity - University of Sarajevo, Sarajevo
Duration: 29 Aug 20181 Sep 2018


  • Prosecutors, EPPO, Neutralization Techniques