Source: (1996) Howard Journal of Criminal Justice, 35(4), pp 299-313. 1996.

A study of decisionmaking about neighborhood disputes by criminal justice personnel was conducted, and the potential for diverting disputes to community mediation was evaluated. Carried out in a Scottish city, the study analyzed approaches of prosecutors to neighborhood disputes and their views about diversion. Neighborhood disputes were defined as incidents which reflected an underlying or potential conflict between people living in relational and geographic proximity, excluding the immediate family. Data were obtained from records and interviews to describe neighborhood disputes and their processing through the criminal justice system. The analysis focused on 50 cases selected in 1991 from 1,493 case records. Findings revealed that neighborhood disputes were troublesome to prosecutors and that the court system did not deal effectively with them. Many cases referred to prosecution authorities could have been diverted to community mediation, and prosecutors supported the use of mediation. Although community mediation may pose challenges for cooperation between the criminal justice system and local community organizations, the authors believe community mediation is critical to the continuing legitimation of public agencies as they help communities solve problems. Outcomes of neighborhood disputes in court and options for dealing with these disputes are considered.