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After successful trials in other parts of the country Northamptonshire's adopting a programme to bring criminals and victims together to find ways in how to repair the harm they've caused.
It's called Restorative Justice.
Ex-con Peter Woolfe spent most of his life on drink and drugs and committing crime, often violent. But he was randomly selected in prison to try out what was then (more than a decade ago) the emerging US practice of Restorative Justice.
Peter agreed to take part and over a very quick period of time his life was turned around - partly down to speaking to the victims of his crime.
Learn more about Peter from the man himself by watching the video on this page.
Launching "Restorative Northamptonshire", Police Commissioner Adam Simmonds (pictured) said:
"Not only am I passionate about providing better support to victims of crime, I am also passionate about prevention and providing a way to help stop crime from happening in the first place. There is strong evidence that restorative approaches work with victims having positive experiences of face to face conferencing, leading to reductions in reoffending by those who participate as well as generating savings in the criminal justice system*.
However, I want to extend our approach to wider than the criminal justice system where there is growing evidence* for using restorative practices to prevent conflict or harm in the first place, to deal with minor conflict proactively in order to help prevent people from coming into the criminal justice system in the first place – I am delighted Restorative Solutions CIC and Groundwork Northamptonshire are working collaboratively with us to achieve this."
Restorative practice techniques include formal meetings involving victims and offenders, or more informal techniques as part of daily business – by a police officer dealing with low level crime on the street, or a teacher, to prevent or manage conflict between young people in the classroom.
Adam added: "We have to use every tool available to us in tackling those people committing crime and involved in anti-social behaviour in Northamptonshire and if using restorative practices helps do that – even in the long term, then that’s what we should do."
Adrian Lee, Chief Constable for Northamptonshire Police said: "There is significant evidence that restorative practices produce better outcomes at less cost for some offences. Northamptonshire Police have been committed to this approach and have welcomed the partnership support we have received.
We are committed to working collaboratively with Restorative Solutions CIC, Groundwork Northamptonshire and our partner agencies to help support this vision.
We have used restorative justice techniques within the police for some time and have had positive feedback from victims and offenders. However, the move towards becoming a restorative county, working alongside other agencies, is an exciting step forward for Northamptonshire."
* Evidence source:
Independent Evaluations of the Home Office Restorative Justice trials by Professor Lawrence Sherman and assessed by Professor Joanna Shapland of victim/offender conferencing demonstrated the following:
85% of victims were very/quite satisfied with their experience of a ‘face to face’ RJ conference
Demonstrated a 14-27 per cent drop in the frequency of reoffending following this type of Restorative Justice
Savings in the criminal justice system of £9 for every £1 invested