Catherine Bisset

It’s a huge question and I am no expert in social history but it made me wonder whether there was a time society was ever ‘fair’? Have the powerful always exploited the weak for material gain especially where there is a perception of limited resources? So the question is one which occupies many parents – can we find a way incentivise people to share their resources rather than compete for the lions share? I suppose fairer societies seem to be more humane than religious, more trusting of their neighbours than suspicious and have a heightened sense of pragmatism over ideology, but I have no idea which mechanisms can transform a competitive society into a compassionate one. What would make the rich give up some of their wealth to the poor? I doubt that force through taxation would work. The desire to give up what you have for others less fortunate comes from much deeper values rooted in a belief that a good society will only be achieved through collaboration, and that everyone, rich or poor, is valued and a role to play in attaining a better society ….an ideal which will perhaps will take decades to reach. In our very small way, we analysts in criminal justice (Scotland) are trying to sell the idea of collaboration to achieve a shared vision of change (less crime) where services don’t compete with each other for funding, but develop a distinctive role which emphasises how they contribute to the desired outcomes rather than fight to dominate the market. Of course if societies want to reduce crime, everyone has a role to play, no matter how small…they shouldn’t rely on someone else to change the world on their behalf. After all, it’s communities themselves that will be the ultimate beneficiaries.

Catherine Bisset, Principal Researcher in the Justice Analytical Unit at The Scottish Government