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Restorative justice will see criminals and their victims come together in Darlington

Neighbourhood Resolution launch event

Neighbourhood Resolution launch event, including Chief Constable and PCC Ron Hogg

Restorative justice will see criminals and their victims come together in Darlington

A scheme supported by Ron Hogg, Durham Police and Crime Commissioner. Article and photo by the Northern Echo.

CRIMINALS and their victims are set to come together as a restorative justice initiative is launched in Darlington.

Offenders will come face to face with those whose lives they have blighted as part of the Neighbourhood Resolution scheme.

The scheme aims to hand power back to communities by giving them the opportunity to deal with low level crimes, disputes and anti-social behaviour.

Trained volunteers from the community will mediate meetings between criminals and their victims. There will also be a message service for those unwilling to meet in person.

The scheme – designed to complement rather than replace the work of police and local authorities – has been piloted across the country, with a high success rate.

A study commissioned by the Home Office found reoffending in some areas reduced by 27 per cent as a result of similar approaches.

It is also said that the scheme will make, rather than cost, money – with every £1 invested leading to a £9 return.

The project – designed to put the victim at the heart of the criminal justice system - has the backing of the police, who will continue to deal with serious offences.

The chief constable of Durham Police, Mike Barton said: “This is exciting and inspirational.

“Restorative justice approaches are fantastic at changing attitudes of offenders and starting to heal the lives of victims.

“It will not work for those people who cannot admit their culpability but that is what we are there for.

“It is a fantastic opportunity for those who have made mistakes or for young people who have taken the wrong path to see their victims as real people.”

Darlington Borough Council leader, Bill Dixon said: “If we always do what we have always done, we will always get what we have always got and that is not working.

“The victim is often left feeling totally disempowered.

“There is something cathartic about coming face to face with a perpetrator and realising they are not six feet tall or something to be frightened of.

“Generally they are quite pathetic and nothing to be afraid of."

He added: “When the community comes together, it can act far more powerfully than any agency ever could.

“The public know what is right and what is wrong and for too long we have failed to tap into that.

“Approaches like this have my whole-hearted support.”

Posted on Thursday 7th November 2013
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