Study assesses impact of community justice court
The impact on reoffending of a pioneering addition to the courts system in the Westcountry is to be studied by academics from Plymouth University.
Plymouth is one of only a handful of cities in the country to have a community justice court, a project run by the city’s magistrates with the specific brief to try to reduce reoffending.
Researchers are now trying to assess the level of public confidence in the court and the effect it has had on offenders, as part of a study funded by an Economic and Social Research Council grant.
The results will be disseminated within the criminal justice system, and to local communities, to improve understanding of how community justice works, and help develop the skills of those involved in the operation of the court.
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The research project is being led by Dr Tim Auburn, associate professor in the university’s School of Psychology, with co-researchers Dr Dan Gilling and Dr Jill Annison from the Plymouth Law School, and research fellow Dr Gisella Hanley Santos.
Dr Gilling, acting head of the Plymouth Law School, is part of the research team.
He said: “The last decade has seen significant changes in criminal justice policy and practice, and much in the way of innovation.
“The community justice court is one of these innovations, and there is a lot of interest in its impact on offending, and on communities more generally.”
Plymouth’s Community Justice Court was launched in May 2007, and aims to listen to local concerns and reduce offending by treating the underlying causes of crime, drug addiction and alcohol misuse.
Dr Gilling added: “Community justice is focused on problem solving for low risk offenders, whereby their backgrounds are examined and areas of future support are identified.
“Governments are increasingly concerned whether the courts have the confidence of the public, so we are looking for people to come and observe the operation of the court for a couple of hours, and then share their views with us.”
The study will see volunteers being invited to sit in on court proceedings for a couple of hours on a Wednesday morning, when the court is in session, and then to attend a focus group at the university to discuss their thoughts on what they have seen.
Each participated will be paid £20 for their time and expenses incurred, with lunch provided. Anyone interested should contact Dan Gilling on 01752 585800 or email Daniel.email@example.com