Problem-solving courts emphasise the explicit incorporation of the community into the judicial process as a way of improving the functioning of the criminal justice system and ‘empowering’ local communities. No courts emphasise this aspect of their work more than community courts. However, many critics of problem-solving courts suggest that the ‘therapeutic’ rationale that these courts deploy is most problematic of all when applied to community courts, and, in view of the contested nature of the term ‘community’ (Young 2002) gives rise to concerns about ‘who decides what is “therapeutic”, in which circumstances and for whom?’ (Petrila 1993: 881) Community courts are ‘neighbourhoodfocussed’, problem-solving courts that prioritise the delivery of local justice to solve local problems. The first US community court opened in 1993 in New York City and since then there have developed many variations of community courts internationally; where they have been introduced in South Africa, Australia and Canada. Community courts can be understood as a development in community justice. Over the last decade in particular, there has been growing interest in the new concept of ‘community justice’ (Berman and Feinblatt 2005; McNeill and Whyte 2007; Simon 2002). In response to claims that the criminal justice system pays insufficient attention to the everyday consequences of crime and disorder upon citizens and neighbourhoods, community justice practices and innovations have developed that explicitly include the community in their processes and set the enhancement of community quality of life as a goal (Karp and Clear 2000). Examples of recent community justice initiatives include community crime prevention, community policing, community courts, sentencing circles, citizen reparative boards and restorative justice sanctioning systems. Community justice innovations ‘share a common core in that they address community-level outcomes by focussing on short and long-term problem solving, restoring victims and communities, strengthening normative standards and effectively reintegrating offenders’ (Karp and Clear 2000: 323). In England and Wales, over the last decade, much effort has been devoted to the generation of community justice innovations. In 2009, the government sought to formalise its disparate range of community justice innovations around a clear framework. The Green Paper Engaging Communities in Criminal Justice (2009) set out the following eight key principles of community justice:

1 Courts connecting to the community. There should be significant liaison between the courts and the local community so that the community is able to put forward its views, and the court has a view of the wider context of the crime.