This paper examines the interplay between informal social control, civil unrest and local crime management in Belfast. Official crime management is the responsibility of the police, but where this role is contested, 'popular' or local forms of crime management occur. The local management of crime is accomplished in certain localities in Belfast by several mechanisms that extend beyond the policing role of the paramilitaries, and popular crime management is rooted in social processes, such as the survival of community structures, extended family kinship patterns, neighbourliness and legitimate authority accorded to community representatives, which constitute important informal social controls. Informal social control is recognized as important in inhibiting crime, but this paper reports on its role in the management of crime in the absence of reporting it to the police. These informal social controls are localized, being mediated by class, communal redevelopment, civil unrest and other social transformations affecting the locality. In this respect, political violence has helped, locally, to protect some areas from the worst vagaries of community breakdown and dislocation, with a positive effect on crime management. These issues are explored ethnographically by means of in-depth qualitative research.