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Government of

Information and public services for the Island of Jersey

L'înformâtion et les sèrvices publyis pouor I'Île dé Jèrri

The conduct and effectiveness of parish hall enquiries

Produced by the Probation and After-care (Non-executives and legal departments)
Authored by Helen Miles Peter Raynor and published on 31 Dec 2005
Prepared internally, no external cost


This research project was proposed by the Jersey Probation and After Care Service and funded by the Senior Officer Group of the Crime and Community Safety Strategy in 2001 to describe and document the Parish Hall Enquiry and the honorary system upon which it depends, in order to evaluate the role they play in the administration of justice in Jersey. The Jersey Probation and After-Care Service acted as managing agency for the research which was conducted with the approval of the Comité des Connétables and Her Majesty’s Attorney General. An interim report entitled “Evaluation of the Parish Hall Enquiry” was published in 2003 and summarized in an article in the Jersey Law Review in February 2004 (Raynor and Miles 2004). Considerable interest was also aroused by an article in the UK’s Probation Journal describing the Parish Hall Enquiry system and outlining the scope of the study (Miles 2004), and by papers at the British Criminology Conferences of 2003 and 2005. The research partnership between the University of Wales, Swansea and the Jersey Probation and After-Care Service goes back to 1996, when new risk assessment methods were introduced into the Service and the University was asked to help in validating them for Jersey and evaluating their use. From this developed a programme of research into the effectiveness of various sentences in reducing the risk of re-offending (for example, Miles and Raynor 2004). The University also helped to organise the Crime Strategy Seminar in the Atlantic Hotel in July 1997. During the course of these activities it became increasingly clear that the Parish Hall Enquiry system was playing an important part in Jersey’s response to offending; that it was the focus of various proposals for enhancement or reduction of its role (for example, in the Clothier Report of 1996); and that there was little documentation of exactly how it currently worked, and no systematic evaluation of its impact or effectiveness within the criminal justice system. There was also some confusion about its status, generated largely by those (such as Clothier) who appeared to regard it as a kind of low-level court, rather than in accordance with its locally accepted legal basis as part of a discretionary prosecution process. To cut a long story short, it appeared to a number of participants in the system that it would be useful to have available some objective research on the Parish Hall Enquiry. In 2001 this was funded by the Crime and Community Safety Strategy, using a combination of a Jersey-based researcher (Miles) and external academic research management (Raynor), with a steering group drawn from the Strategy, the Probation Service, the Centeniers’ Association and the States Police. All members of the steering group and the Attorney General have had an opportunity to comment on a draft version of this report. In keeping with the purpose of the study, our focus has been on what actually happens and on what participants in the process think of it, with considerable reliance on direct observation of enquiries and on interviews with those involved both in the enquiries and in the wider system. It was not our task to comment on what should happen, for example by making recommendations about how the role of the Parish Hall Enquiry should develop in the future; instead, our aim was to contribute to the evidence-base which might in due course help to inform decisions about the future by those properly empowered to make them. However, we 19 hope that our work can throw some light on the current and, by implication, the potential contribution of the Parish Hall Enquiry system to the maintenance of social peace and order in Jersey.

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