Academic journal article British Journal of Community Justice

Digging Up the Grassroots? the Impact of Marketisation and Managerialism on Local Justice, 1997 to 2013

Academic journal article British Journal of Community Justice

Digging Up the Grassroots? the Impact of Marketisation and Managerialism on Local Justice, 1997 to 2013

Article excerpt


There are two separate concepts that we address in this paper: local justice and community justice. Local justice suggests that the decision making power and authority in the justice system should be invested in bodies as close as feasible to local communities. A form of subsidiarity, local justice is associated with the transference of power from central government to more localised structures. Community justice, on the other hand, looks at the application of power locally. In response to claims that the criminal justice system pays insufficient attention to the everyday consequences of crime and disorder, community justice practices and innovations have developed to explicitly include the community in decision making and co-production of services and set the enhancement of local community 'quality of life' as a goal (Karp and Clear 2000). While there has been growing national and international interest in the concept of community justice over the last decade in particular (Berman and Feinblatt, 2005), it is nonetheless a concept which has a long historical tradition in England and Wales, embodied primarily in the existence of the lay magistracy (Darbyshire, 2011).

Evidence suggests that local and community justice ideas are important because, when effectively implemented, substantive forms of local and community justice may, for example, serve to highlight 'the special contribution that can be made by local voluntary agencies in respect of community involvement, innovative practice, skills in "engaging" offenders and care taken to involve service users closely in the design of plans to change their lives' (Maguire, 2012: 490). We contend that, despite objections raised about both concepts (see for example, Newton, 1982; Geddes, 2006), local and community justice can enable an innovative and responsive framework (Stuntz, 2011), provided that they reside within a broad and stable set of national legal and policy frameworks. Through a local justice framework, criminal justice practitioners regain discretion and are able to design more balanced, creative, and potentially more effective solutions.

Since 1997, successive governments have undertaken ambitious reforms which have placed an emphasis on 'local justice' and 'community justice' (see for example, Home Office, 2010; Home Office, 2009; Cabinet Office, 2008; 2009; DCLG, 2006; ODPM, 2003). These developments have often been undertaken in parallel with reforms that stress the need for more professional management of public services and ways of introducing quasi-market approaches to justice delivery (Ministry of Justice, 2011; 2010; Cabinet Office, 2010; Corner, 2006). These competing impulses have interacted from the late 1990s and continue to be evident today. We will discuss the inter-relationship of these reform programmes, and the impact of that inter-relationship on both local and community justice. In particular, where local and community justice are undermined (explicitly or implicitly), this has broader implications for the legitimacy of criminal justice interventions and practices, and may impact upon efforts to leverage 'felt' justice into neighbourhoods, as well as in engaging citizens in partnership with police and other agencies to enforce social norms and laws (Lanni, 2005; Lynch, 2011). Analysing whether managerialism and marketisation undermine local and community justice in England and Wales is thus worthy of scrutiny for advocates of local and community justice


Local and community justice under Labour, 1997-2010

John Raine has described pre-1997 notions of what a local justice system might resemble as a 'quaint quill pen image of local justice' (Raine, 2000: 19).Yet, after 1997, the concept of local justice was made anew in the Labour administration's approach to criminal justice. This was perhaps most strongly expressed in the passing of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998. …

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