Community Justice, Risk Management and the Role of Multi-Agency Public Protection Panels

Published 13/03/2002
Type Article
Author(s) Mark Oldfield
Corresponding Authors Mark Oldfield, Kent Probation Area and University of Hertfordshire

This paper discusses recent developments in the ‘risk management’ of known sexual and violent offenders in the community, including the work of Multi-Agency Public Protection Panels (MAPPPs). It considers the extent to which such developments can be understood as one facet of a growing trend towards ‘community justice’ and an extending network of community justice programmes. In doing so it explores the significance of different interpretations of community justice as a concept and a strategy, from idealistic formulations which emphasize social inclusion and positive involvement by local communities, to those which see it as largely risk-focussed and exclusionary, linked to the pervasive concerns about insecurity which have come to characterize late modernity. It is noted that the involvement of local citizens in the social control of sex offenders has so far been limited mainly to vigilantism and campaigns to expel them, and that criminal justice agencies have generally tried to ‘manage’ their risk secretly, avoiding debate or the release of information; however, the ‘populist challenge’ unleashed by the Sarah Payne case cannot now be ignored, and some attempts have recently been made to develop constructive dialogue about the nature and levels of risk and to involve community members in decision-making and even the support of sex offenders. The article draws at various points upon empirical research conducted by a team including the authors (Maguire et al 2001).