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Can a trust-based criminal policy lead to fewer crimes?
In November 2011, the European Commission supported a research project into criminal policy and the promotion of trust in justice. The project, named FIDUCIA after the Latin term for “trust”, involves research organizations from eleven countries, including the Center for the Study of Democracy.

The project stems from the idea that public trust in justice is critical for social regulation, since it is tightly related to the respect for institutions, and therefore to personal compliance with the law.

“Repressive criminal policies, albeit popular with the public opinion, are often ineffective, even counter-productive”, said Stefano MAFFEI of the University of Parma, coordinator of the FIDUCIA project. “In the long term, trust-based policies can improve the public perception of the legitimacy of justice institutions, and thus to result in a stronger commitment to the rule of law”.

FIDUCIA will shed light on four distinctively “new European” crimes: cyber crimes, drugs trafficking, trafficking of human beings, and criminalisation of migration and ethnic minorities.

The FIDUCIA team will also analyse data collected by the latest sweep of the European Social Survey, designed by the EURO-JUSTIS consortium led by the ICPR-Institute for Criminal Policy Research (London). “The FIDUCIA project will investigate whether a change of direction in criminal policy – from deterrence strategies and penal populism to procedural justice and trust-based policy – is desirable, and in what terms” – says Mike HOUGH, director of ICPR.

According to Jonathan JACKSON of the London School of Economics “FIDUCIA is designed to find effective ways of tackling emerging forms of crime. The project will draw together theory and evidence of experts from many European countries, capitalising upon new and existing data on the dynamics of public trust and institutional legitimacy.”

The FIDUCIA project will start on February 1, 2012, and will last for three years.

For further information please contact the Law Program of the Center for the Study of Democracy.
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