Police & Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger and a senior Cleveland Police officer have heralded the use of restorative justice as part of International Restorative Justice Week (November 17-24). Restorative Justice brings together those who have been harmed by acts of crime, antisocial behaviour and disorder within the community in a structured and supported way with those who are responsible for the harm.
In April 2013, Cleveland Police launched the restorative justice scheme to address offending and antisocial behaviour committed by first time offenders under the age of 18. The Force has resolved 358 individual crimes across Teesside using this method, mostly involving theft and shoplifting, criminal damage and minor injury assault.
The restorative intervention would have involved an apology to the victim(s) concerned together with acts of reparation to put things rights. Acts of reparation might have included paying for damaged property, cleaning areas that have been the subject of graffiti, litter picking and other deeds that benefit both the victim and the wider community.
Barry Coppinger, said: “I’m a great supporter of using restorative justice; it’s a common sense approach in dealing with young people who may have made an error of judgement or done something for the first time out-of-character.
“It’s important that we don’t unnecessarily criminalise young people but get the balance right and bring the full force of the law into play when it’s needed. Victims also tell me that restorative justice supports their need for answers, and this is really important for me in the work that I’m doing out on the streets of Cleveland.
“Some of my objectives for the coming years are to divert young people away from offending and get a better deal for victims and witnesses - restorative justice supports this.
Leading on the project for Cleveland Police, Assistant Chief Constable Sean White said: “Our focus has been about giving our victims a better service, making them feel more involved and directly addressing inappropriate and unacceptable behaviour by some young people.
“I am really proud that we have resolved 358 matters of crime appropriately, using restorative interventions and as many of those crimes would involve more than one young person we can confidently say that we have kept over 500 young people out of police custody since 1 April 2013.
“Restorative Justice is in no way a ‘soft option’ as it brings offenders into contact with those whom they have harmed and is validated through research as having a greater impact on reducing levels of repeat offending and encouraging those responsible for harm to reflect upon their behaviour.”
Posted on Tuesday 19th November 2013