Restorative justice scheme helps settle more than 90 neighbourhood disputes

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Imran Hussain, Imran Hussain,

Nearly 100 neighbourhood disputes have been resolved through an innovative restorative justice scheme in Bradford.

The Neighbourhood Resolution Panel brings criminals face-to-face with their victims to agree, with trained volunteers, on restorative action in the community where low level crime or anti-social behaviour has taken place.

Since the project was introduced in the city in May 2012, 94 referrals have been made, with 90 per cent of the victims taking part in the process satisfied with the outcome.

Types of cases referred to the Panel have included neighbour disputes, assault, kerb crawling and criminal damage. Referrals are made by police and social housing.

Of those offenders who have been through the process, 97 per cent have not gone on to re-offend.

The programme currently has 60 volunteers to oversee the work.

The scheme’s success has also resulted in an ACC Commendation from West Yorkshire Police and was a finalist in West Yorkshire Police Annual Awards in March this year.

There have also been several visits to Bradford from similar schemes across the country to learn from their pioneering work.

Bradford Council’s Coroprate Overview and Scrutiny Committee will be given an update of the Panel’s progress over the last 12 months when they meet on May 8.

Councillor Imran Hussain, deputy leader of Bradford Council and executive member for safer and stronger communities, said: “This is a highly sucessful initiative.

“But we can’t get complacent. We plan to get even better and we have funding in place to make this good work continue. It saves the taxpayer money as well with people not being involved in the criminal justice system.

“Bradford is championing this type of procedure.

“This is the way forward in dealing with neighbourhood disputes.

“It’s about victim satisfaction. This is this figure that is the most important, as we want the victims to be satisfied with the procedure and its outcome.”

Bradford Community Safety Partnerships have agreed to continue to fund the project for the next six months, to September.

Bradford Youth Offending Team has been delivering Neighbourhood Resolution Panel for youths through Restorative Justice clinics. From November 2011 and October 2013, there were 317 referrals, with 85 going face-to-face.

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