Published Thursday, 04 August 2011
A Criminal Justice Inspection report has revealed only one case has been referred by the community restorative justice system to police in Northern Ireland since 2007.
The document recommends rules governing schemes should be changed.
Deputy Chief inspector of the CJI Brendan McGuigan said: "Inspectors found since securing accreditation only one case had been referred by CRJI to the PSNI under the government protocol, which highlights a need for the current protocol to be reviewed."
The 19-page report, found despite four recommendations being fully achieved and one partially achieved, several issues remain to be addressed.
Practitioners have also criticised the scheme established to codify the relationship of practitioners with the police saying it is too restrictive because it requires an admission of guilt.
Despite this, CJI officials also found some positive developments and said early intervention in matters like anti-social behaviour, which may not constitute crimes, helped prevent problems from spiralling.
The report said mediators had operated informally, bringing offenders and victims together to repair their differences, often in areas formerly dominated by republican or loyalist paramilitaries.
"CRJI has become an important part of the voluntary and community sector landscape in parts of Northern Ireland and are integrating their activities as part of local community safety networks", Brendan McGuigan of the CJI added.
"Some political representatives remain critical of the schemes and argue that key figures within the schemes are politically partisan, a perception which is fuelled by the inability of CRJI to attract individuals from different political backgrounds to join the management committees of its community-based restorative justice schemes. We would encourage CRJI to continue to strive to address this issue", Mr McGuigan continued.
He urged CRJI to undertake additional work around its complaints policy to ensure it is effective, efficient and meets standards expected of a voluntary or community organisation working within the criminal justice sector.
A Department of Justice spokesman said: "The department intends to initiate a review in the autumn."
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