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Co-producing community justice : the transformative potential of personalisation for penal sanctions

Weaver, Beth (2011) Co-producing community justice : the transformative potential of personalisation for penal sanctions. British Journal of Social Work, 41 (6). pp. 1038-1057. ISSN 0045-3102

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Abstract

Debates surrounding the ostensibly ‘transformative’ potential of personalisation for social work services, and service users, have variously illustrated the risks and opportunities this presents, although the implications for criminal justice social work services have received comparatively limited attention. By extending the concept of ‘service user’ to include not only offenders, but wider stakeholders (victims and communities), this paper considers the practical application of theories of personalisation and co-production by reviewing proposed and extant strategies for maximising stakeholder involvement in criminal justice services. It is argued that, in progressing beyond the more individualistic interpretations of this somewhat controversial reform agenda—in prioritising not only the individual, their rights, strengths and subjective identities, but locating the individual in situ, in the concrete realities and textures of their lives and communities—the strength of the personalisation agenda rests in its potential to develop and strengthen the collective organisation of service users, service providers and communities in a co-productive endeavour. It is argued that both this reading and the principles underpinning it resonate more widely with the empirical and theoretical literature on just and effective penal practices and, in so doing, this paper exposes the complexities that lie behind the apparent simplicity of this argument.