Using democratic spaces to promote social justice in northern towns

Publication year: 

This paper gives account of a do-it-yourself citizensÆ jury (DIY CJ) where a group of researchers and a ôjuryö picked at random from the local population of Blackburn and Darwen, Lancashire, undertook a series of deliberative workshops during April and May 2004. The subject of this DIY CJ was the role of the police and drink and drug use among young people, a topic which was chosen by the jury itself at the first of these workshops. Having heard a wide range of perspectives from a diverse set of ôwitnessesö the jury sought to recommend a number of solutions to the problems highlighted during the process. Among their specific recommendations, the jury called for: changing social services rules for drug users; the introduction of a tougher enforcement regime for drugs and alcohol regulations; more community policing; new local education authority-driven alcohol and drugs education programmes. The authors reflect on issues of cultural integration and ethnicity and suggest that the re-building of democratic engagement in Northern England, as in many other parts of the UK, will be greatly enhanced by an increase of face-to-face meetings such as those that form the essence of a grassroots citizensÆ jury. They point out that in areas targeted either by race hate groups or religious fundamentalists there is an urgent need for sensitively planned initiatives that move beyond condemnation of the divisive ideologies of such extremists; and that policy-makers should take practical steps to develop innovative new mechanisms of accountability.

35 p.
DIY Jury Project, Institute of Policy and Practice, University of Newcastle, Bioscience Centre, Times Square, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, NE1 4EP