Friday, 25 April 2014

The 'Truncheon of Doom' & what price justice?

You may well have heard of the 'Barnet Graph of Doom'

This basically shows that Barnet council is going to run out of money at round about the end of this decade when sources of income dry up (DCLG goes into deep hibernation) and demand for social care & children's services just keep rising.

Birmingham not to be outdone has created the 'Jaws of Doom'

I believe there is also a 'Scissors of Doom' graph which seeks to predict when the NHS will run out of money / healthcare consumes all of public spending / Government introduces the Logan's Run option to reduce demand (I jest of course...) I cannot find it on the net: perhaps it is censored as being even scarier than senior politicians in swimming trunks...

But this got me wondering: do we have (or need) a 'Truncheon of Doom': a graph which shows when predicted resources available for the police & criminal justice services are exceeded by demand for said services? Could such a graph be constructed? How elastic is demand for policing? Or will money always be found for sufficient courts and prisons to lock people up and deliver justice?

Evidence based practice has now migrated across from healthcare into the probation and police services (although there is still a long way to go), a trend I was predicting back at the turn of the century. In a similar way, do we now need more Criminal Justice Economics (like Health Economics)? 

The University of York seems to be ploughing quite a lonely furrow. But is there could be much more... do we need more academic research to look at costs and benefits of various approaches to policing, probation and other parts of the CJS? When does the 'Truncheon of Doom' close in?

But let me make a further link (and I am just exploring this really, prompted by part of Peter Neyroud's input last night)...

Retributional Justice is about right & wrong, about punishment, guilt and fair process. In many ways the victim is as much a subject of the justice process as the offender. The benefits to the victim are not weighed against the cost of the judicial intervention. Thank Heavens, I here you say, justice should have no price because it has intrinsic and supreme value... Do you believe that?

Whereas, on the other hand, one model of Restorative Justice sees crime as a harm to be healed, and therefore the process of justice becomes the method by which that healing occurs. And so if that healing can occur without due (and hugely costly) legal process but instead with some other intervention / RJ based desistance method perhaps: then is that a better outcome for the individuals involved and indeed for society at large? (Because it could be far more cost effective...)

As I say, I don't know. I want to think about this some more. But what do you think? 

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