Ron Hogg, Durham Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), is looking for volunteers to help support victims and reduce crime.
The Restorative Hub, to be launched in 2016, will train volunteers from across County Durham and Darlington to support victims, offering them the opportunity to meet and communicate with their offender.
120 community volunteers are already trained following a successful pilot scheme in Darlington. Mr Hogg is now seeking a further 120 volunteers from across County Durham. He said:
"Restorative Justice is highly valued by victims as it gives them a voice in the Criminal Justice process and a chance to get the answers or explanation they deserve. This has been evidenced as assisting some victims to cope and recover from the impact of the crime and restores their peace of mind.
"For offenders, the process helps them understand and take responsibility for the harm they’ve caused. Evidence shows that offenders who meet their victims in a restorative justice process are less likely to reoffend."
It is anticipated that volunteers will work alongside colleagues from the Police, Courts, Prisons, Probation and Community Rehabilitation Companies, and will also handle cases on their behalf. They will work with a variety of issues, from neighbourly disputes and anti-social behaviour, to low-level crime such as shoplifting and criminal damage as well as more serious crimes as experience increases.
Andrew Hancock, one of the scheme’s coordinators, said: "We’re looking for fair-minded people who want to make a positive contribution to their community. No experience is necessary as full training will be given. The full cost of training, worth £625, has been waived by the PCC for this next round of training in order to allow volunteers to complete the accredited training programme."
The training, which will run in various locations from February-June 2016, equips trainees with the knowledge and skills to effectively facilitate restorative justice processes, and leads to a recognised level 3 qualification. In return for the investment made in them, volunteers are asked to donate around 3 hours a week to working with victims and offenders for the first 18 months after qualifying.
Former volunteer facilitator Hayley Morrison commented: “It’s been extremely satisfying to see the difference you can make. I’ve helped traumatised victims regain their confidence and find closure, while also helping offenders turn their lives around and make a fresh start. It’s given me experience I could never have gained elsewhere, and made me a much more rounded person in the process. It even opened the door to my current career in the Police.”
An information pack with an application form and full details of the role can be obtained by contacting the Restorative Hub on 0300 003 1818 or by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org.
There will also be a chance to meet Hub staff and volunteers at a special a Criminal Justice Volunteers Fair to be held at Police Headquarters in Durham, on Wednesday 5th January from 6pm-8pm.
Further information is available on the Ron Hogg’s website at: http://www.durham-pcc.gov.uk/Victims/Restorative-Justice.aspx
Posted on Monday 16th November 2015