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The Constitution of the Criminal Law$
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R.A. Duff, Lindsay Farmer, S.E. Marshall, Massimo Renzo, and Victor Tadros

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199673872

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199673872.001.0001

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Criminals in Uniform

(p.97) 6 Criminals in Uniform
The Constitution of the Criminal Law

John Gardner

Oxford University Press

This chapter addresses the relationship between the character of the state and the constitution and the justification of harm-causing action. It takes as a starting point the author's debate with Malcolm Thorburn about the Diceyean interpretation of English constitutional law; specifically the way in which we should understand the contrasting moral positions of citizens and public officials with respect to the justifications that they may offer for their harmful actions. It suggests that a defender of the Diceyan doctrine can consistently believe that public officials, or some of them, are in a special moral position because they are officials. By considering the role of police officers in some depth, the special characteristics of official conduct and misconduct are illustrated whilst endorsing a fundamental continuity in the kinds of consideration that are relevant to assessing their conduct and the conduct of ordinary citizens. Such a discussion invites us further to reflect on what it is to be a citizen and how the criminal law should be constituted in the light of such a notion.

Keywords:   English law, criminal law, constitutional law, Malcolm Thorburn, police officers, policing

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