n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - Advocacy for integrated criminal justice forums

Volume 29 Number 2
  • ISSN : 1012-8093



Systems are integrated components (sub-systems) where the collective energy is greater than the total of the individual ones. This is termed: 'synergy' and is the creation of a whole that is greater than the simple sum of its parts and that the parts of a system can be best understood in the context of the whole. This article argues from the perspective of the General Systems Theory (GST) and calls for the introduction of Integrated Criminal Justice Forums (ICJFs) at the level of magisterial districts. A forum should consist of a structure where the subsystems of the Criminal Justice System, together with delegates from the community, meet regularly to ensure better co-ordination between the police, the courts (including the National Prosecuting Authority) and corrections. These forums should also serve as a body of co-ordination between the components of the Criminal Justice System and communities. The Criminal Justice System needs a community liaison forum and Integrated Criminal Justice Forums are proposed as suitable for this function. Their main role will be that of liaison between the Criminal Justice Departments, acting as a 'watchdog' of the unbiased, fair and judicious implementation of policies and to involve the community in terms of information sharing and problem solving. Its pivotal role within the co-ordinating and watchdog roles requires that chairpersons and secretaries, as well as departmental representatives from the three departments are represented on such a forum. The co-ordinating role will mean that ICJFs will need to have limited access to the police's Crime Administration System, court's Case Management System and offender and individual correctional centre statistics from the Department of Correctional Services. This information can, inter alia, be used to assist victims and community members, in order to ensure that crime is accurately reported, that witnesses are assisted to attend court and to assist with the reintegration of offenders.

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