Politics in Minutes (2016)

Law and order

Anumber of institutions have been established to ensure that the laws of the land are observed, and that justice is done. These include a system of courts, a police force, and prison and probation services. Unlike other public institutions, however, they are generally independent and, though financed by the state, not directly controlled by the government. In this way, through a separation of powers (see here), the government is not above the law but subject to it, and the judiciary can act as a neutral arbiter.

Nevertheless, governments have considerable influence through the laws they make, and in particular the regulation of the legal system and the powers granted to the police. This varies according to the government’s attitude to matters of public order. Policy can also determine recommendations for sentencing, such as the setting of fines, terms of imprisonment and even the imposition of capital punishment, as well as the balance between rehabilitation and punishment.