West Berkshire reaps benefit of restorative justice
Sep 12, 2012
New figures released by West Berkshire's Youth Offending Team show a dramatic drop in the number of young people entering the youth justice system for the first time.
A fall of 48.7% is shown between January and December 2011 (compared with same period for 2010). The decline for the rest of England averages 19.3%. The team is a multi-agency partnership between Thames Valley Police, National Probation service, the Berkshire Health Care Foundation Trust and West Berkshire Council.
The Team attributes two major factors to this impressive figure. Firstly, in 2001 the partnership established an Early Intervention Team to work with young people between the ages of 8 and 15 years focussing on preventing them offending in the first place, or to intervene at an early stage to halt further offending. This supported other services developed across the West Berkshire area to support vulnerable children, which have made them less likely to offend.
The second development is the introduction by Thames Valley Police of the Youth Restorative Disposal (YRD) in 2009 following a successful national pilot.
YRD's were introduced to be a quick and effective means for dealing with low-level offending, offering an alternative to arrest and formal criminal proceedings.
Restorative Justice is a key element of this informal disposal and has been proven to reduce re-offending and increase victim satisfaction. It requires the young person to take responsibility for the crime they have committed and make amends direct to the victim so they get a real insight into the impact of their behaviour. It also gives the victim a chance to have their say, to get answers to their questions and receive an apology.
Irene Neill, West Berkshire's Executive Councillor for the Youth service said: "Restorative Justice provides this a real benefit for all concerned. It gives young people a clearer understanding of the effect that crime has upon the community, and will hopefully have a positive impact on how they behave in the future."