North Wales Police pilot for Neighbourhood Justice Panels

13/07/2012

The Ministry of Justice is working with 15 local Neighbourhood Justice Panels, from today, designed to resolve anti-social behaviour and low-level crime which affects local communities.

 

The Panels will deliver agreed restorative justice outcomes and can include the perpetrator agreeing to carry out tasks which make amends to the victim or the community. They are designed to give victims and the wider community much more of a say in the punishments handed down.

The panels consist of volunteers from the community, who are provided with training in restorative justice, and facilitate meetings between the victim and perpetrator. The police, local authority, parents/appropriate adults, youth services and victims’ services can also be represented at the panel meeting, depending on the circumstances of the case. The aim is to agree meaningful action on the part of the perpetrator that meets the needs of the victim, and any wider community involved.

 

In North Wales the pilot will run in North Denbighshire and elsewhere in the UK it will be tested in Barnsley (South Yorkshire), Broadland (Norfolk), Halton (Cheshire), Islington (London), Kirklees (West Yorkshire), Lambeth (London), Manchester, Salford (Greater Manchester), Staffordshire, Stockport (Greater Manchester), Swindon (Wiltshire), Trafford (Greater Manchester), Wakefield (West Yorkshire) and Wigan (Greater Manchester).

 

Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice Nick Herbert said  "Too often offenders are dealt with behind-the-scenes, with little regard for the effect of crimes on victims and communities. We want to reconnect the justice system to the local communities they serve.

“Our commitment to work with 15 Neighbourhood Justice Panels across the country is a big step in ensuring local areas have a direct say in determining the appropriate response to the crime and anti-social behaviour which affects them.”

 

These pilots follow on from local innovation in Sheffield, South Somerset and Norfolk but are not intended to deal with cases that involve more serious offences and therefore should be prosecuted or dealt with through formal out of court disposals such as a caution, which would be given by the police.

 

The panels form part of the Government’s wider criminal justice reform White Paper ‘Swift and Sure’, launched today, which aims to prevent crime and the victims it creates.

 

These reforms build on the lessons learned from the response to last summer’s disturbances and are intended to modernise criminal justice services, speed up court cases, improve transparency so the public can understand how the system works, and engage local communities in dealing with low-level offending.

 

Police Sergeant Peter Evans of the North Wales Police Community Safety Department said “North Wales Police have opted out when dealing with low level crime,  the main principal of the panels will be to try and resolve anti social behaviour, neighbourhood and community disputes.  Participation in any panel will be completely voluntary, it’s not about shamming anyone, it’s using restorative approaches to achieve an agreed collective outcome.  The panels are not there to decide who is innocent or guilty it’s about everyone trying to repair the harm that has been caused, and its implications on the future.

 

“We hope the pilot will commence in North Denbighshire in late August, run for six months and then we will report back to the Ministry of Justice”

 

Gareth Pritchard Assistant Chief Constable of North Wales Police said  "We've been using restorative justice in a number of cases very successfully for quite a long time so it is an interesting development where volunteers, and the offender and the victim in appropriate cases can come together. "Clearly we would be careful about which cases we would refer to the Panels and anything serious would not be considered appropriate.

 

“We want to look at the issues behind causative crime and see how we can change behaviour.  That is our ambition.  We are trying to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour and reduce incidents that are of concern in the community.  This is just another option."

 

Sergeant Evans who is coordinating the pilot is setting up Neighbourhood Resolution Panel Volunteer facilitators in Rhyl, Prestatyn, Abergele and St Asaph.  He said  “A Volunteer Restorative Justice Facilitator’s role will be to visit people who have been effected by Anti Social Behaviour or neighbourhood/ community disputes and if all are in agreement facilitate face to face meetings with all parties involved helping them move on positively with their lives.”

 

For more information contact Peter Evans on 01745 539251 or peter.evans@nthwales.pnn.police.uk 

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