There are an increasing number of cyber-vigilante groups in the United Kingdom who use the Internet as a tool for regulation and retributive justice. The policing of child sexual predators by citizen groups outside of law enforcement, commonly termed ‘paedophile hunters’, has evoked a range of responses among media commentators and the general public. This article explores public perceptions of vigilante justice in the United Kingdom via an online survey to assess the extent to which they are considered retributive. It focusses on the moral justice imposed by such groups and interrogates the relationship between retribution and doxing (the ‘naming and shaming’ tactics which are commonly actioned by paedophile hunting groups). The findings highlight three dominant responses to cyber-vigilantism: (1) public support for cyber-vigilantism; (2) doxing as a human rights issue; and (3) a lack of faith in the criminal justice system. This article is consequently concerned with the merits and drawbacks of retributive justice when led at a community level and critically examines perceptions of this form of citizen-policing.
- paedophile hunters
- retributive justice