Substantial and far-reaching changes have occurred since the publication of the first edition of this volume in 1996, and there is little doubt that we are currently witnessing the most profound transformation in criminal justice across Europe since the French revolution. In the midst of the most rapid and concerted period of criminal justice reform in the recent history of the continent of Europe, this book is an attempt to take stock of the process across a wide range of different jurisdictions, encompassing more than 200 million inhabitants. It spans a broad range of traditions and provides a comparative account of European criminal justice, compiled by a group of distinguished authors, to a common format. What are the criminal justice norms, which are arising from this process? Is it really possible to talk of an emerging European culture of criminal justice or is the continent drifting into a post-modern diversity of styles and forms of justice?
We firmly believe that a new consensus on many of these issues is beginning to emerge across the continent, not based upon the domination of any single model of procedure or on forced harmonization but on the growth of shared understandings about the appropriate balance between the interest of the state, the community and the individual in the crucial area of criminal justice. We hope that the essays will make a significant contribution to the pan-European effort to evolve criminal justice procedures which are both efficient and respectful of human rights.