28/02/2005

PSNI to hold ‘Restorative Justice’ conference

The PSNI is to host a major human rights conference on restorative justice in Belfast today and tomorrow.

The conference, entitled “Restorative Justice – From the Mechanics to the Dynamics”, will explore the issue of restorative justice and provide accounts of current thinking on the world stage, local policy and future developments.

Commenting on the two day event, Assistant Chief Constable Judith Gillespie, head of PSNI Criminal Justice Department, said: “Restorative justice has the potential to offer a dynamic solution to the delivery of justice for certain types of crime because it involves the victim, the perpetrator and the community.

“It is essential that human rights are placed at the centre of this process because it involves the issues of safety, accountability and restitution, not in detached, textbook terms but in the practical consequences for real people and their communities. It is equally important that any such schemes, whether in the public or voluntary sector, can stand up to scrutiny in terms of their protocols, practices and personnel.

“We have made much progress in this challenging but potentially very beneficial field. Those in the community who are genuine about further advances and are prepared to establish systems, which are both restorative and fully accountable, will find the Police Service to be more than willing partners. The benefits of such schemes will be welcomed by all of our communities.”

Provisional figures from the Public Prosecution Service pilot scheme which is operating in South Belfast, Fermanagh, Tyrone and all youth courts in Belfast show that almost a quarter of cases which could be prosecuted in court are being dealt with by way of diversionary or restorative schemes.

(MB/SP)

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