Map the needs

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This initial stage of the process looks into what the criminal-justice needs of the community are, how they arise, and exactly who's needs the process should include. Mapping the actors comes in stage two of the process, but can be done concurrently with stage one as the two elements are very closely interlinked. Once a respondent sample has been established, the process continues with gathering data from the respondent sample and mapping their needs.

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1. What needs?

How do the criminal justice needs of a community arise? 

The Community Based Assessment starts with looking at where the criminal justice needs of communities arise from. These needs tend to arise from four groups of threats - two threat groups originate from within the community while the other two threat groups are directly caused by criminal justice actors: 

Threats caused by other community members (such as cases of robbery in certain areas, assaults on women during field work, extortion of merchants on a market, or attacks on minority groups by other community members); 

Communal conflicts (such as disputes over property and land, clashes over natural resources, or disagreements over religious practices);

Abuses inflicted by criminal justice actors (such as ill-treatment in police custody, illegal searches at roadblocks set up by armed groups, or illegal detention by customary justice actors); 

Inadequate services provided by criminal justice actors (such as discriminatory practices by the police, undue delays in court proceedings, prison overcrowding, or taking bribes for services of criminal justice actors).

RISK: The advantages and disadvantages of any needs-based analysis will need to be weighed up against the UN's preferred rights-based approach to justice and development. A needs-based approach might have the advantage of speed, but has the potential disadvantage of using preconceived concepts of vulnerability. A rights-based approach aims to give all recipients equal access and treatment.

2. Whose needs?

A society is not a homogenous whole but consists of various communities and groups that are characterized by ethnicity, location, religion, social class, gender and other factors. For instance, women, children and elderly people are likely to face different forms of security threats; or certain communities may be marginalised in a society and may be subject to harassment by criminal justice actors. A CBA should reach out to the various communities and groups of a society and capture the criminal justice needs they have. Marginalised groups should receive particular attention due to their vulnerable status.

3. How to map the needs

N.B. Comprehensive population needs surveys are generally not feasible within the time constraints of a CBA. Hence the identification of criminal justice needs must be based on a mapping process that uses a variety of less comprehensive data gathering methods that do not cover all communities. As a result, the combination of different methods, the composition of the sample of respondents and the triangulation of findings are critical factors for an effective CBA.

The basic activities involved in mapping the criminal justice needs of a community are (see activity graph above to click through to each activity in detail):

  1. gather data
  2. determine respondent sample
  3. triangulate data
  4. document information.

The data compiled during the needs mapping process has to be organised. For each criminal justice need, a data sheet should be completed, particularly sections 1-3 (see Output tab): detailed description of the criminal justice need; persons or groups affected by it; and persons or groups causing it. The information in the data sheet should always be clearly sourced. Important data gaps should be clearly marked in the criminal justice need data sheet.