Dalhousie Law Journal


R. Paul Davis


Christiania, legal, criminological issues, Denmark, social experiment, social policy, progressive approach, crime control, treatment of offenders, Helstedvester, decriminalisation.


The Danes could hardly be accused of reticence in their approach to social policy issues. Of particular interest are their progressive approaches to crime control and treatment of offenders, including their setting up of Helstedvester, one of the world's first therapeutic community-type psychiatric prisons, and their liberality in some issues of decriminalisation. One of the most interesting criminological events to have occurred this century, however, was completely unplanned; indeed the government at various junctures in the history of the "Free City" of Christiania has stringently opposed its continued existence. The material presented in this article represents an attempt to provide for English-speaking audiences an impartial and analytical view of the issues at stake in Christiania. Remarkably little writing on the area has emerged in the European press: and with the exception of one note in the New York Times, and a few fringe press mentions, North America has had little chance to learn of Christiania's development. The issues which will be discussed here centre on the social and legal status of the experiment: it was commenced "illegally", and a number of "social nuisance" arguments were used in opposition to those who saw Christiania as possibly the only development capable of solving many contemporary crises in Denmark. Firstly, however, a physical description of the area is called for.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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