Guardianship in the Digital Age

Published date01 March 2019
Date01 March 2019
Subject MatterArticles
Guardianship in the Digital Age
Danielle M. Reynald
This conceptual article focuses on the potential to advance and extend guardianship using new
digital crime prevention applications that have been developed as a consequence of technological
advancements in communication and social engagement. The new opportunity structure for informal
guardianship through active citizen participation and involvement in crime prevention and control
efforts using the Internet and smartphones is discussed to emphasize how this has changed in the
digital age. Specifically, the article highlights how the fundamental tenets of guardianship (i.e., what it
means to be available, how supervision or monitoring is carried out and ways of intervening) have
evolved due to neighborhood watch/community safety mobile applications. Based on what we have
learned about guardianship, this article considers the potential for these digital crime prevention
applications to extend and support guardianship. It also assesses these applications critically by high-
lighting someof the concerns and risks that need to be considered amid the proliferation of these new
platforms for crime control. The article concludes by weighing up the pros and cons with a view to
focusing on key issues in the continued development of such applications so their potential can be
guardianship, technology, digital applications, crime prevention
Guardianship has been established as an important strategy for crime prevention and control
within communities (see Reynald, 2011b). Recent technological advancements have led to the
proliferation of digital crime prevention applications as tools to help enable citizens to guard
against crime and disorder through social networking with other community members. Growing
use of these digital crime prevention applications have been observed in the United States, Europe,
Australia, and South Africa (e.g., Naber [United States], Safeland [Sweden, UK], Coyards [Swe-
den], OurHood [South Africa]). However, very little is known about how these applications are
used by citizens to help combat crime-related activity and whether they function as effective
platforms to facilitate effective guardianship within various communities. This article presents
a review of what we know about citizen guardianship against crime and disorder and digital crime
School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Griffith Criminology InstituteGriffith University, Queensland, Australia
Corresponding Author:
DanielleM. Reynald, School of Criminology andCriminal Justice, Griffith CriminologyInstitute, Griffith University,176 Messines
Ridge Road, Mt Gravatt 4122, Queensland,Australia.
Criminal Justice Review
2019, Vol. 44(1) 11-24
ª2018 Georgia State University
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/0734016818813693

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