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The Role of the Community in Applying Restorative Justice.

Wright, Martin
June 4, 2015

Source: (2006) International conference held in Kyiv, April 20-21, 2006.

What can be done about crime? In small communities where people know each other well, they can often rely
largely on informal social control; in large, anonymous cities, there is a greater need for formal agencies such
as park wardens, concierges and police. Sometimes the offender is a large company, and if many people
combine to apply public pressure, the company can be forced to compensate its victims, as the Australian
criminologist John Braithwaite (2002) has shown. Even a government can be influenced if enough people
oppose it with great determination, as Ukrainians know. In Britain there is a demand for police to be visible in
the streets (on foot or bicycle, not in police stations or cars). But police are expensive, so ‘community wardens’
or assistant police are being introduced: they have fewer powers, less training and less pay. This may
increase community confidence; or people may feel that looking after their safety is someone else’s job, so that
they need not make an effort. In some places there is ‘Neighbourhood Watch’, in which members of the
community are encouraged to report anything suspicious to the police, and in the process they get to know
each other, which strengthens informal social control. Is this empowering people, or is it asking members of the
community to do things for which the government should be directly responsible? (excerpt)


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