Call for restorative justice review

Published Thursday, 04 August 2011
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Schemes carried out by Community Restorative Justice Ireland need to be reviewed according to an independent report.

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."

© UTV News
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2 Comments
Eamonn 2 martine in belfast wrote (1,091 days ago):
As well as as providing no facts and being based solely on insinuation. Your criticism of CRJ makes no sense. In nationalist communities CRJ is at the forefront of encouraging people to report crimes to the police. The PSNI are on record as stating they find CRJ projects to be extremely useful in adressing crime and community safety issues. Read the review and you'll see CRJI is accepted as playing a positive role in local ccommunities.
martine mc guinness in dublin wrote (1,091 days ago):
Anyone who actually cares about justice, would know that in many areas where these schemes were run they were nothing more than fronts for the various terrorist organisation, just like the 'ex-prisoners' groups, effectively paying 'terrorists' to maintain 'silence' and 'control' in their area.....How many of the little ones were silenced when they sought help......how many victims were told to keep quiet as their complaint would cause problems for the leadership......how many children had their legs broke because they told a teacher or social worker that they had been abused by a member of a terrorist organisation.......let the police, police, and let the terrorists do time....
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