Discretionary and Legal Consistency and Proportionality

Part of the Critical Criminological Perspectives book series (CCRP)


This chapter explores the relationship between the use of enforcement discretion and the achievement of fundamental modern principles of legal consistency, proportionality and fairness. The use of legal discretion is embedded in every level of the British criminal justice system but forbidden in Italy, especially within executive-directed law enforcement agencies. The use of discretion gives flexibility to officers and agencies, but it can create inconsistent and unproportionate responses of the criminal justice system to different crimes and social classes. In this context, discretion causes the under-criminalisation of occupational health and safety (OHS) crimes because these breaches are not treated the same as other similarly harmful crimes. In other words, regulatory unreasonableness caused by the strict application of the law is not, after all, unreasonable if the reactions to OHS crimes are compared to other similar harmful ones.


Occupational health and safety enforcement policies Law enforcement Discretion Legal Consistency Proportionality Fairness Discrimination Reasonable Unreasonable Reasonably practicable Technologically viable Inconsistent Unproportionate Britain Italy Harm 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Social SciencesUniversity of RoehamptonLondonUK

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