A Good Heart Feargal Sharkey
Shaming criminals in Bracknell - by making them come face to face with their victims - is helping them to stay out of trouble.
Since June 2008, 289 people who committed crimes have met with their victims - and only 4 have re-offended.
RAiN, a restorative approach to dealing with low-level crime and nuisance behaviour, has proved to be exceptionally successful in reducing repeat offending.
Bracknell Forest is one of ten sites across the country to pilot RAiN, which stands for Restorative Approaches in Neighbourhoods.
Vandalism, shoplifting, low-value thefts, minor assaults, neighbour disputes, noise nuisance and conflicts between school children are among the types of crime and anti-social behaviour that have been dealt with under the RAiN initiative in Bracknell Forest.
Matthew Sherratt, RAiN co-ordinator, said: "We have increased the number of interventions by 75 per cent since August 2009 and extended the categories where a restorative approach is used to include truancy and minor cases of drug possession."
Some of the RAiN interventions arise from incidents reported to the police, while others are the result of referrals by the Bracknell Forest Community Safety Partnership and other partner agencies, such as schools, housing associations and the environmental health department.
Matthew explained: "The restorative approach brings offenders face-to-face with the people they have affected, giving them the opportunity to take responsibility for what they have done and make reparation. RAiN meetings are run by police and other trained facilitators, for example, teachers or youth workers. The process involves multi-agency working and the sharing of good practice between partners.
RAiN has been shown to increase victims' satisfaction by giving them a sense of closure. It reduces the costs involved in pursuing minor cases through the court system and is also believed to cut the cost of policing. We are currently carrying out a study to determine whether early interventions through RAiN reduce the number of times police are called out to deal with repeat offences."