Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Charles has today welcomed the results of a countywide survey that captured public feeling about alternative punishments to court.
The survey was launched in May to help Commissioner Charles and public protection partners identify suitable situations when restorative justice could be used in Derbyshire as a means of rehabilitating an offender and enhancing victim recovery.
Members of the public were asked to highlight their top three preferred ‘community remedies’ from a list which included mediation, face-to-face apology, diversionary activity including courses and training and agreement to repair or pay for any damage caused as a result of their actions.
The majority of residents (72%) preferred reparative work to repair any damage caused as the best means of punishment followed by paying for damage to property, which was chosen by 65% of respondents. Rehabilitation approaches such as alcohol treatment and anger management courses were the third most popular choice at 38% followed by face-to-face apology at 24% and the use of a parenting contract at 23%. The least popular option was written assignment or research at 1%.
Responding to the results of the survey, Commissioner Charles said: “I’m extremely grateful to everybody who took the time to complete this survey as it gives us an excellent insight into how local people feel about restorative justice as an appropriate way of dealing with certain types of crime. The feedback we’ve gathered will be used to help shape our Community Remedy Document which the Chief Constable and I are currently finalising. This will formalise the arrangements for this style of justice and reparation in the future.
“Community Remedy is as much about improving the victim’s recovery as it is about breaking offending patterns. There is much merit in a system which gives victims of crime a say in how their case will be handled in justice terms. This will not only help their healing process but will also ‘personalise’ punishment so that the offender better understands the consequences of their actions.
“These issues have been discussed with our partner agencies including local authority leads throughout the engagement process so that we have a rounded view of what they expect from the new arrangements.”
The results will be fed into a new Community Remedy strategy, developed by Commissioner Charles and the Chief Constable, which will set out how the agencies involved in delivering criminal justice in the county will utilise restorative justice in the future.
Police and Crime Commissioners have a statutory duty under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act, to develop a Community Remedy Document which establishes how local partners will deliver restorative justice in their area and when the approach is appropriate.
Community Remedy can only be used to respond to antisocial behaviour and low-level crime and is not a suitable tool against persistent offenders or those who commit more serious offences. Instead of following the traditional justice route to court, offenders who are subject of a restorative justice approach will be made to understand the impact of their offending on the victim.
During the survey, local people were invited to comment on the idea of restorative justice and its value in tackling low level crime. A number of respondents raised the issue of parental responsibility and called for measures to be introduced to make the parents of under-age offenders pay for any damage caused by their criminal activity. Other popular suggestions included the expansion of community service work for offenders and the introduction of evening curfews to curtail night-time offending.
Commissioner Charles will now finalise the Community Remedy document with the Chief Constable ready for the start date of October 20.
The full report will be discussed at the Commissioner’s Strategic Governance Board Meeting on Monday. Agenda and reports available here http://www.derbyshire-pcc.gov.uk/News-and-Events-Meetings/Meeting-Information/Strategic-Governance-Board-Schedule-of-Meetings-2014.aspx
Media Enquiries: Sallie Blair - 01283 821012
Posted on Thursday 11th September 2014