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Norfolk offenders to face victims

PUBLISHED: 09:20 30 October 2009 | UPDATED: 15:28 03 July 2010

A NEW range of measures aimed at making young offenders face their victims whilst keeping them out of the courts have been unveiled by Norfolk police.

The pioneering initatives, all nationwide firsts, include suspended fixed penalty notices.

A NEW range of measures aimed at making young offenders face their victims whilst keeping them out of the courts have been unveiled by Norfolk police.

The pioneering initatives, all nationwide firsts, include suspended fixed penalty notices. This means young people can be given a fine for bad behaviour, but it will be cancelled if they comply with conditions to mend their ways.

Police have also set up countywide restorative justice panels, which will allow volunteers from all walks of life to dictate how justice is dispensed in their community.

More than 1,800 restorative justice interventions engaging with 6,000 victims, community members and offenders have now been completed in the county.

The force has been accredited to train other police forces in how to us these techniques, meaning Norfolk will act as prototype for the whole country.

Peter Merry, head of criminal justice at Norfolk police, said: “We have proved it works and we will continue to find ways to ensure it remains a viable and effective strategy to dealing with harm that is caused. It is not just about crime or anti-social behaviour - it is about listening to the needs of our communities and looking at how we can improve people's quality of life."

The announcement promises to place Norfolk at the forefront of youth justice. It comes as the Prison Reform Trust called for increased use of restorative justice after a study found only a third of youngsters who are made to apologise to their victims go on to re-offend. This compares to 71pc who reoffend after being given custodial sentences.

In Norfolk, only 11pc of those who have gone through the process have gone on to commit more offences.

Mr Merry added: “We have set up countywide panels and clinics that are resourced and run entirely by police, partner agencies and community volunteers. This is the first of its kind in the UK and it has the potential to be rolled out countrywide. It brings everyone together to address an issue.

“Perhaps the most powerful tool we have introduced, and again a first for the UK, is the use of suspended penalty notices for disorder."

Police believe that by putting the people who are most affected by crime at the core of the justice system, the whole community can benefit without compromising young people's long-term futures.

Garry Shewan, Association of Chief Police Officers spokesman for restorative and community justice, said: “Restorative justice is increasingly being used by police forces up and down the country. Having had the opportunity to work with Norfolk constabulary, it is evident that their model and how they work using restorative is making a real difference to their communities.”

The approaches can be used in place of a court appearance or to complement more conventional punishments, and can be used for offences including serious assaults, thefts, damage, drunkenness, harassment, neighbour disputes, bullying, anti-social nuisance or speeding.


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