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Stephen Cairns

PhD Student


Working Title of PhD: The Legacy of Community Justice Authorities, Local Democracy and Community Engagement

Year commenced PhD study: 2014
Institution: University of Edinburgh
Funding Source: Lothian and Borders Community Justice Authority (until March 2017)
Full or part-time: Part-time
PhD Supervisors: Professor Richard Sparks, Dr Alistair Henry

Synopsis: The current and changing context for the delivery of community justice within Scotland gives us a particular opportunity to review achievements, difficulties and challenges faced by the Community Justice Authorities (CJAs) (as public bodies), and examine the proposed transitional processes needed for success, including the implementation of policies and practices required to embed ‘local democracy’ within community justice.

The objective of the research is the record of the CJAs, with regard to their relationship with ‘community engagement’ as an opportunity to understand the complexities of democracy; and its ideological relevance and relationship with the justice system.

This provides a platform from which to consider the future development of community justice systems and the involvement of ‘communities’ in aspects of their work. What space is there, or should there be, for community engagement and local democratic deliberation within the architecture of new community justice institutions? What are the tensions between (local) democracy and partnerships and collaborative working?

The research will include an extensive literature review focusing on ‘democracy’ and community justice, with documentary analysis on the history, structure, policy, practice and operations of the existing CJAs within Scotland and their proposed successors.

Qualitative interviews will be undertaken with relevant Senior Managers/Officers within each of the Local Authorities/Community Planning Partnerships covered by the Lothian and Borders CJA and with Chief Officers/Conveners from each of the CJAs across Scotland. The emphasis of the interviews will be to focus on community engagement, organisational resilience, within the context of ‘democracy’.



School of Law
University of Edinburgh
Old College, South Bridge

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