After Homicide: Practical and Political Responses to Bereavement

By Paul E. Rock | Go to book overview

1
Homicide in England and Wales

It is best to begin by setting the scene, and I shall do so by rehearsing some of the occasionally contradictory arguments which authorities have advanced to make sense of criminal homicide in England and Wales.1


Definitions

Criminal homicide is not a single entity in law, and its subdivisions have been shaped by strong moral and instrumental imperatives. Murder, especially, has been set apart from any other form of homicide as an abhorrent act which violates the principle of the sanctity of life and which must be awarded its own distinctive penalty. In the moral language of jurisprudence and Government, 2 it tends to be represented as the most heinous of all crimes (indeed, the word 'heinous' seems to have been reserved especially to describe that one offence). Murder, wrote the Law Commission, should 'be regarded as a special category of act, requiring special treatment from the rest of the law of homicide'.3 Justice, the United Kingdom branch of the International Commission of Jurists, captured its extraordinary standing when it declared that murder 'has a unique place in the law of England not only because it is the most heinous crime in the criminal calendar but also

____________________
1
Events are volatile and may well change. I can deal only with the state of affairs as it existed in late 1996 and early 1997 when I was writing.
2
The Prison Governors Association observed that, in 1991, 'the House of Lords, with the support of many related professional and pressure groups, held the view that the mandatory life sentence should be abolished. But the House of Commons agreed with the Government's belief that murder is a "uniquely heinous" crime which is best punished by a mandatory life sentence.' Evidence to the Committee on the Penalty for Homicide.
3
Law Commission; primary evidence submitted to the House of Lords Select Committee on Murder, Manslaughter and Life Imprisonment, 1989, 38.

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After Homicide: Practical and Political Responses to Bereavement
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • General Editors' Introduction vii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgements xxvii
  • Contents xxix
  • Figures xxxi
  • Tables xxxii
  • Abbreviations xxxiii
  • Dramatis Personae xxxv
  • 1 - Homicide in England and Wales 1
  • 2 - Bereavement after Homicide 28
  • 3 - Bereavement as a Career 57
  • 4 - The Moral Economy of the Homicide Survivor 91
  • 5 - Beginnings: From The Compassionate Friends to Parents of Murdered Children 136
  • 6 - Victim Support and Parents of Murdered Children 168
  • 7 - The Campaigning Survivors: Justice for Victims, Activism, and the Mass Media 206
  • 8 - The Politics of Justice for Victims 241
  • 9 - The Evolution of SAMM 278
  • 10 - Conclusion 321
  • Index 334
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