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Issue:- Thursday, 28 October 2016

Headlines and reports on this page = 2 news items.    Page - 5.

Future looking bright for neighbourhood justice

MORE than 120 people packed into Wirral Christian Centre to learn more about neighbourhood justice.  The national charity Redeeming Our Communities (ROC), along with Wirral Council’s Community Safety Team and Merseyside Police hosted a community consultation event called a ROC Conversation. As well as discussing how ‘restorative justice’ can be a real alternative to Court proceedings in some cases, the event also served as a platform to re-launch the Wirral Neighbourhood Justice Scheme.

The scheme had been successfully piloted over the last 2 years and a decision was taken by Wirral’s Community Safety Partnership to commission ROC to deliver the service in the borough and build on the solid foundations that have been laid. Cllr George Davies, Wirral’s Cabinet Member for Housing and Community Safety, said:- “The restorative justice approach is proven to reduce re-offending rates, stop conflict from escalating and minimise the harm caused to victims. It also gives victims of crime, or those on the receiving end of anti social behaviour, a sense of closure. This works in tandem with existing enforcement processes, helping resolve issues and preventing reoccurrence. We are delighted with how the Neighbourhood Justice Scheme has been running in Wirral and with ROC on board we are confident it will continue playing a vital role in helping the council achieve our pledge to ensure our communities are safe.”

Cllr Davies played a part in a role play exercise at the event, demonstrating how restorative justice fits into the criminal justice system. He played an alleged victim in a dispute, while Chief Superintendent Ian Hassall took the role of the police officer called to the scene. 1 of the scheme’s current volunteer facilitators, Debi Gould, went on to describe a recent neighbour dispute which was successfully resolved at a face to face meeting.

Another of the event’s aims was to attract new volunteer facilitators for the scheme, who will be trained in restorative justice, over 3 Saturdays, over November 2016, and also a part time paid Co-ordinator for the project. A number of people came forward as a result of the ‘conversation’ and ROC are confident all 12 volunteers will be in place in the next few weeks. Cllr Davies added:- “The involvement of communities and individuals is central to the success of this scheme so I’m encouraged by the number of people who have come forward and expressed an interest in becoming a Restorative Justice practitioner and getting involved in tackling the kind of low level crime and nuisance which can blight communities.”

Wirral’s Mayor, Cllr Pat Hackett, officially opened the event and welcomed everyone while Debra Green, the founding Director of ROC, described how her organisation has been working towards safer, kinder communities in partnership with other agencies and faith groups since 2004.

The evening also included a time for ‘Celebrating the Good’; mapping all the great activities that are already happening in the Wirral. Merseyside’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Jane Kennedy, and Mark Camborne, Head of Corporate and Community Safety at Wirral Council, were among those who are providing their support.

If you require further information about the ROC Restore project, please contact Andy Bell for further information on:- 0161 393 4511. Video of part of the ROC Conversation can be viewed on:- Vimeo.Com.

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