What is Community Justice?

What does Community Justice involve? | Services and Community Involvement | FAQs


The Government has set out an agenda to tackle anti-social behaviour and the crime associated with it.  Key to this is bringing justice closer to the community.  This is particularly important as the places where anti-social behaviour is most common are often the ones where people feel excluded, let down by the Criminal Justice System and helpless to tackle the problems they face on a daily basis. 

The first community justice projects - the Community Justice Centre, North Liverpool and the Salford Community Justice Initiative, have been up and running since autumn 2005. In addition there are now projects in 11 new areas across England and Wales.  These are Bradford, Birmingham, Devon and Cornwall, Hull, Leicester, Merthyr Tydfil, Middlesbrough, Nottingham and three projects in London at Haringey, Newham and Wandsworth.

What is Community Justice?

Community justice is about improving local quality of life with all the criminal justice agencies joining with the community to combat the anti social behaviour and quality of life crime that makes lives miserable.  It is an integral element of the Government's 'Respect' agenda, which has been described by the Prime Minister as “parents, local communities and local people join[ing] law makers and law enforcers to make a difference.” - Statement to Parliament 17/05/05.

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What does Community Justice involve?

  • Courts and Judiciary connecting to the community through regular engagement, finding out their views on crimes that are of most concern, the impacts of those crimes and the way offending is tackled
  • Justice seen to be done.  Compliance with the court's orders or other penalties should be seen and recognised by the community
  • Cases handled robustly and speedily, harnessing the combined potential of a range of agencies working together
  • Strong independent judiciary, leading the problem solving approach, and maintaining oversight over offenders' progress post-sentence
  • Problem solving and finding solutions, helping offenders to break the cycle of offending
  • Working together, a team of agencies to deliver an end-to-end service to offenders, victims and the community
  • Repairing harm and raising confidence, giving the community a say on what projects should be the subject of unpaid work requirements imposed as part of a community punishment order and making them visible
  • Reintegrating offenders and building communities, developing pathways to support the re-integration of offenders back into their community
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Services and Community Involvement

Focusing on involving the community is what makes these projects different from other parts of the criminal justice system.  Community Justice meets the needs of people living in the local area, encouraging them to take ownership of their police, court, types of crime tackled and unpaid work.  Community Justice can also be a resource for non-court based activities such as counselling and advice services, basic education services, mentoring, youth clubs, volunteering opportunities and much more.

The community are engaged, so that:

  • criminal justice agencies learn which crimes most concern local people and take steps to tackle them
  • information from the local people helps ensure criminals are caught
  • local people understand the of the work of the judiciary and criminal justice agencies, and believe that they are working to meet their needs
  • more local people become involved in efforts to tackle problem behaviour within the community by coming up with solutions or by contributing as a volunteer
  • the community helps identify tasks for offenders on unpaid work orders
  • improving the safety of the community becomes the joint responsibility of local people and the agencies working together

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National FAQs:

Where did the idea come from?
A similar concept is behind the Red Hook Community Justice Centre in New York, USA.  The Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales (Lord Woolf) visited Red Hook in 2002 and was impressed with the problem-solving approach used there.  Upon his return he wrote to the then Home Secretary, Lord Chancellor and the Attorney General about the Centre. The Home Secretary visited Red Hook and it was decided to test some of the Community Justice concepts in a pilot based in this country.


How many projects are there?
There are currently thirteen Community Justice projects underway at Birmingham, Bradford, Devon and Cornwall, Hull, Leicester, Merthyr Tydfil, Middlesbrough, North Liverpool, Nottingham, Salford, and three locations in London (Haringey, Newham and Wandsworth).


How were the locations identified?

The areas were selected through looking at levels of crime, social deprivation, diversity and confidence as well as the need to ensure that Community Justice is tested in different areas of the country.


Who is involved in the projects?

The Local Criminal Justice Board, the local judiciary and magistrates, the local council, crime and disorder reduction partnerships, safer neighbourhoods teams and other voluntary services.


How long have Liverpool and Salford been running?
Liverpool was launched in October 2005, and Salford in November 2005


What evaluation is being done?
Liverpool and Salford have undergone evaluations which were published in October 2007. 


Will there be any more 'centres' like Liverpool?
At the moment we are not planning any more co-located centres.  We are interested in developing new models to help us learn how community justice can be mainstreamed across more areas of the country.


Why are you simply not building these additional services into ordinary courts?

We will be taking the concept to other courts in England and Wales.  However, we are keen to test the concept fully in Liverpool and Salford and the 11 new areas to help decide which aspects should be mainstreamed across the wider criminal justice system.  In addition we are taking community engagement lessons learned to all magistrates' courts.


Who is involved?
We are working in partnership Local Criminal Justice Boards and their Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships and local authorities to help them to develop proposals for possible Community Justice projects.


What crimes do the projects deal with?

The projects focus on quality of life crimes such as vandalism, graffiti and anti-social behaviour related offences.  The types of crimes that are prioritised are informed by consultation with the community.


What types of sentences are used?

The projects use existing sentencing options, and an additional power to return offenders to court for reviews of communtiy orders.  Sentencing focuses on problem-solving, addressing the underlying causes of offending.  It also focuses on punishment for the offence and where possible reparation to the community.  Where appropriate unpaid work is carried out in the local community at the placed people want so that it is relevant and visible.


Is the community involved in sentencing?

No, sentencing is a matter for the judge or magistrates.  The judge or magistrates meet regularly with community members to find out about the effect of crime on their neighbourhoods.  This ensures they are aware of the impact of crime locally and can sentence having an increased awareness of the local context.  The community do suggest tasks that could be carried out by offenders who have been sentenced to unpaid work.


How can we apply to do community justice?
If you are interested in finding out more about how community justice could work for you locally, please contact the National Community Justice team.

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