What is Restorative Justice?
Since April 2009, people within Derbyshire have been able to rely upon the Restorative Justice scheme in their community as an alternative resolution to local problems.
Restorative Justice brings victims, offenders and communities together to decide on a response to low level crime and anti-social behaviour in the community. It is about finding positive solutions and encouraging offenders to face up to their actions, making them understand what they've done wrong and give them an opportunity to do something to repair the harm.
This scheme also encourages police officers and Police Community Support Officers to use their 'professional judgement', based on their discretion, policing experience and skills, to resolve the incident, providing extra time to prevent and tackle those crimes that matter most to the community.
When can it be used?
The Restorative Justice method can only be used where the offender is accepting responsibility, and the victim voluntarily wants a restorative approach as opposed to taking the offender through the court process.
The crimes that Restorative Justice can be applied to are typically low level, local crimes and anti-social behaviour. All police officers and Police Community Support Officers have been trained in the principles of Restorative Justice and will be able to advise on when it is appropriate to use it.
What forms does it take?
Typically, these outcomes can be face-to-face or written apologies, prompt compensation for criminal damage, and/or some form of reparation work. The key principle here is that the offender shows some form of remorse, apology, reparation or compensation for their actions.
The crime is recorded ethically as usual but dealt with in a more proportionate way.
Superintendent Terry Branson, who led the project's roll-out within Derbyshire Constabulary, said: "We work hard to give victims a choice in how their crime is resolved and we're pleased that so many victims are happy with the way their case has been handled.
"Restorative Justice is about using common sense. It's about providing a much better service to the public, enabling officers to use their experience to get to the heart of a complaint, working with both the victims and suspects to identify the best possible solution.
"These local crimes can be resolved in the community quickly and to everyone's satisfaction. This method of resolving crime is less time consuming for officers, meaning they can spend more time patrolling the streets."
How has it been used?
An example of Restorative Justice in action in Derbyshire:
A witness saw a youth damage the 'soft play' surface on the play-area on Derbyshire Avenue, West Hallam, and passed on a description of the offender to police. When an officer attended he found a youth, matching the description, still in the area.
The 12-year-old admitted his misdemeanour and his mother was informed.
He wrote a letter of apology for his actions to the local parish council, which was read out at a meeting. He also showed remorse, was apologetic and acknowledged the consequences of his actions.
Supt Branson said: "The boy wasn't previously known to the police and hopefully this early intervention will have a lasting effect upon him.
"Members of the parish council were consulted throughout the process and were happy with the outcome."
Who do I ask about Restorative Justice, and how can I find out more?
All police officers and Police Community Support Officers in Derbyshire have been trained to resolve local crimes in this way. This includes officers from local Safer Neighbourhood teams as well as all response officers.
For more information on Restorative Justice, visit www.restorativejustice.org.uk.