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Restorative Justice: GMP Report Success

Recent tactic on crime and punishment shows results

Published on November 22nd 2011.


Restorative Justice: GMP Report Success

A couple of years ago Confidential interviewed Chief Constable Peter Fahy of Greater Manchester Police (GMP) and the idea of Restorative Justice was a key point that was discussed. It seems the idea is beginning to prove its worth. This GMP press release underlines the progress made so far.

MORE than 600 crimes in Greater Manchester were dealt with by Restorative Justice in the past month - a record number for Greater Manchester Police. 

During October, hundreds of people across the county have embraced the benefits of using Restorative Justice as part of the Force's commitment to putting the victim's needs at the heart of tackling crime. 

In the last year alone, from October 2010 to October 2011, there have been 4,348 Restorative Justice disposals in Greater Manchester. 600 crimes were dealt with by Restorative Justice in one month - October 2011. 

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These have included a group of five youths paying compensation to a farmer in Stockport after setting fire to several bales of hay, to children in north Manchester apologising to a car owner whose vehicle they had damaged by throwing stones. The children's parents also agreed to pay for the repairs. 

A recent survey by GMP of people who had used Restorative Justice revealed nearly 85 percent were satisfied and a further 11 percent very satisfied by the service they had received. 

Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan said: "I am absolutely delighted to see that 600 crimes have been dealt with by Restorative Justice in the past month. It shows that not only are officers really grasping how to use RJ, but that more and more victims of crime are realising what a positive impact it can have. 

"Restorative Justice is all about repairing the harm someone has caused and giving victims more of a say in how an offender is dealt with. It is about putting what the victim wants at the heart of how we respond and giving them that voice. 

"I firmly believe that Restorative Justice is a slow-burning revolution that will ultimately reduce crime and reoffending rates and I'm delighted that so many people in Greater Manchester are seeing the benefits." 

Restorative Justice works by making offenders directly accountable to victims of crimes such as criminal damage, minor assaults and shoplifting. Working with police, schools and community-based organisations, victims can decide whether the offender should be subject to the traditional arrest and charge approach or asked to put matters right in a way the victim suggests. 

Examples have included vandals cleaning up graffiti, written apologies, compensation and even visits to police cells to show how harsh life behind bars is. 

Almost two thirds of all restorative justice disposals in Greater Manchester have involved victims and offenders being brought face-to-face, allowing those affected to really hammer home what they have been through. Because of this personal connection, offenders have shown genuine remorse, taken responsibility for their actions and seen first-hand the error of their ways. 

What is also exciting is that more and more victims are asking offenders to put something positive back into their community as punishment.

The Force is also looking at offenders involved in the summer disorder who have already been jailed to see if they would be prepared to meet with the shopkeepers whose livelihoods they threatened while still in prison, so they can hear how their actions personally affected their victims. 

Ministry of Justice research also shows that Restorative Justice reduces reoffending by 14 percent. It stops young people getting criminal records for very minor offences at a young age - which can stigmatise them and result in a spiral of offending for years to come - as well as encouraging them not to reoffend. 

What is also exciting is that more and more victims are asking offenders to put something positive back into their community as punishment.

What is also exciting is that more and more victims are asking offenders to put something positive back into their community as punishment.

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"Restorative Justice empowers victims and communities," continued Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan. "If they want to pursue a traditional arrest and charge approach, we will fully support them. 

"But for many this achieves nothing and the feedback we are getting is that it can be far more powerful for a victim to meet an offender face-to-face and say 'why me?' I have had offenders say to me they wished they'd accepted a caution because coming face-to-face with someone they have harmed is a rough ride. This really forces them to front up to what they have done and learn their lessons. 

"What is also exciting is that more and more victims are asking offenders to put something positive back into their community as punishment. That is giving the offender the opportunity to become part of that community again, giving them a sense of belonging rather than the alienation of a traditional criminal justice system outcome, and just as importantly satisfying what the community is telling us." 

RECENT EXAMPLES OF Restorative Judgement (RJ) IN PRACTICE 


- After an incident of criminal damage in Bolton in which a youth damaged a car, a face-to-face meeting with all parties resulted in the offender paying for the damage and with the support of the community, said he wanted to turn his life around and has begun the process of becoming a paratrooper. 

- In Bury, juveniles went into a shop and caused criminal damage and stole various bottles and cans. A face-to-face meeting resulted in an apology, remorse and compensation. 

- In Stockport, following a burglary that resulted in an offender being jailed for 32 months, both the offender and victim agreed to a RJ conference in prison where the offender explained his reasons for committing the offence while the victim spoke about lifestyle choices, substance abuse etc.. 

- Another Bury burglary agreed to a prison RJ conference where his victim explained with some emotion the impact of his behaviour beyond the obvious financial loss. 

- In Oldham, youngsters detained for shoplifting completed an RJ conference followed by a litter pick to give something back to the community as an alternative to prosecution. 

- A PC in Sale responded to graffiti being sprayed on a motorway bridge. Two offenders with no previous police record were identified and accepted responsibility. The Highways Agency agreed to use RJ and the offenders were asked to attend a regional control centre to meet with staff and discuss the dangers of their actions. 

 

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James SpencerNovember 22nd 2011.

I expect crime and disorder to take place: sometimes I am affected by it (not a victim... I can't do 'victim') I don't want to 'love' my hoodie and help her make it better. Can't do 'mum' either. These not a parts I play well. Some years ago n I had a lodger who was a prop forward in a University team. The the police crime prevention officer came round. I told her how he had chased the burglar down the street, and I feared what could have happened to to the'poor guy'. She was shocked. Didn't get my camera back though.

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