Joint enterprise is growing problem in our modern society were teenagers are sentenced because they were present when the offender delivered the fatal blow. There have been arguments for and against joint enterprise and whether the law should stay or be abolished this is because too many young people are being condemned for just witnessing attacks or observing illegal activities. I do believe those who took part deserve to be punished too, just not as rigorously.
Personally I believe that the offender who commits the crime should therefore be held accountable and should be punished for it. This leaves us wondering: are the wrong people going to jail? First of all, there has been a significant rise in the amount of young people being jailed for joint enterprise. In the past 8 years more than 1,800 people have been charged with homicide under the controversial, legal principle of joint enterprise. As well as this, between 2005 and 2013, the amount prosecuted for homicide was 1,853 in England and Wales which involved more than 4 people.
A huge problem that joint enterprise causes is that people are being convicted even though the police weren’t clear who deliver the fatal blow, this clearly shows how easy it is for the police to blame someone who is not responsible. Additionally, there is a key example which was mentioned on Panorama where a young man prosecuted for a homicide called Kenneth Alexander which believes he is innocent because he was not aware of the violence that was going to happen which resulted in the death of Michael Campbell. Should you be charged if you weren’t aware of the violence which was going to occur?
Keyfer Dykstra was a 14-year-old boy with severe ADHD convicted of joint enterprise because he was there but he had no part towards the killing of the 19-year-old Sean McHugh this is a key example of people who have been convicted even though they never knew who was going to get hurt or who was participating in the violent incident that was going on. In addition a large amount of people would argue that joint enterprise is a “lazy law” however some people think that it efficiently gets rid of those involved in crime, but can we really put someone in jail for life simply because they were at the wrong place at the wrong time?
On the other hand joint enterprise acts as a deterrent for young people and this actually is a very strong point for joint enterprise as it emboldens youths to avoid all types of criminal activity which generally decreases crime rates because it makes young people stay away from crimes because they are afraid of the consequences of joint enterprise. In my opinion I think that joint enterprise has some benefits which I think it has been able to make teenagers more quences that are obtainable for being present in an attack.
Michel Gove who is Secretary of State for Justice believes that the Joint enterprise law is seriously flawed; he urges to change the law as they are “predominantly used against black people” (1) this shows that the doctrine promotes discrimination and stereotypes. Furthermore, an important issue was mentioned in a “panorama documentary” which was released 23rd November 2009 on BBC one about joint enterprise, where a woman went in detail about how she sees a lot of younger men being prosecuted.
This could imply that the law relies on stereotype and it’s that it’s a “lazy law”, meaning that they punish anybody mistaken for something else both in appearance and physically. I believe this is true because the figures show that 37. 2% of those serving long jail terms for joint enterprise offences were black men. Furthermore some critics of joint enterprise say “it has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice” (2) this show how much innocent people jail charged with a serious crime like murder.
We also have seen that there has been an urgent review on Joint enterprise “The Justice Select Committee has called on the government to carry out an “urgent review” of the joint enterprise law in murder cases, saying it has a growing problem that the common law doctrine may be causing injustice” this has increased the amount of appeal cases by 11% to 22% this is because the people prosecuted believe that there is not enough corroboration against them and feel that they are not accountable for it.
This shows that many amounts of teenagers are being condemned for crimes they didn’t do. In conclusion. I appreciate both sides of the debate due to the fact people have different views on how the law has helped improve our societies today or how they should be changed. To wholly agree with the law, I believe that the right people should be prosecuted however the law has made many mistakes by stereotypically charging the innocent, and allowing various criminals to escape being punished for their crimes.