Justice and Safety

Can we measure justice?

October 17, 2018 by No Comments | Category Justice, Statistics

Guest bloggers and researchers Sarah Armstrong, Beth Weaver and Trish McCulloch ask whether we can measure justice and how different people experience justice?

How do people experience justice? How do people decide if justice is just? These questions are at the heart of a project launching today, carried out by researchers at Dundee, Glasgow and Strathclyde Universities and funded by the Scottish Government. In ‘Measuring Justice: Defining Concepts, Developing Practice’, we will be exploring the ways that different people who come into contact with justice agencies – including victims, witnesses, accused, convicted – experience and assess their experience of justice.

The project will run through April 2019 and mainly involves an international review of research across a field of areas to round-up what is known about and the best techniques for measuring and understanding perceptions of justice. There are two important themes guiding our work. First, a concept called ‘procedural justice’ has influenced the way justice is understood and studied; the idea, supported by nearly 40 years of evidence, is that how people are treated fundamentally shapes their judgment about what is a fair outcome.  Second, Scottish public services are moving towards  a ‘person-centred service’ ethos and we will be exploring the ways that Scottish justice ‘users’ feel that services respect and respond to their needs.

By learning more about how an abstract concept like ‘justice’ is actually experienced during encounters with the police, courts, lawyers and more, we hope to contribute to developing policies and practices that realise Scotland’s aim to be a just and fair society. The findings may have implications for both criminal and civil settings of justice processes. In the final phase of the project we will be organising a workshop bringing a range of people together to share their experiences and expertise on justice in Scotland. At the end of this work we will produce materials that can be used by a range of groups to consider how they might define, measure and assess the quality of a justice experience.

We will be occasionally blogging about what we find as we go along, and hope you will follow this work. Further information about the project is on the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice (SCCJR) website, including details of how to contact the team. Keep in touch!

Research team: Sarah Armstrong (Glasgow University), Trish McCulloch (Dundee University), Beth Weaver (Strathclyde University) & Dominic Reed (Glasgow University)


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