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Last Updated: Friday, 21 July 2006, 16:00 GMT 17:00 UK
Schemes 'must work with police'
youth crime
Restorative justice aims to bring victims and offenders together
The government is expected to say the PSNI must play a central role in community restorative justice schemes if they are to receive funding.

There are currently 15 of the schemes operating in nationalist areas of NI and there are five loyalist projects.

The government is expected to publish new guidelines early next week setting out how the schemes should operate.

They are expected to say any criminal offences should only be referred to restorative justice schemes by police.

That will anger those who run the nationalist schemes because they reject any involvement by the police.

The guidelines are also expected to recommend an independent system for complaints and inspection.

The community restorative justice schemes are controversial because some former paramilitary prisoners are involved.

The government guidelines will say no one currently involved in paramilitary organisations can be part of a scheme - but anyone with a previous terrorist conviction may be allowed to be involved.

Those who operate the schemes may decide to ignore the guidelines - but only those who sign up to them will be eligible to apply for government funding.

Schemes

Restorative justice is a community-based scheme, designed to bring together victims and offenders and is an attempt to resolve their differences without going through the courts.

There are three types of restorative justice schemes operating in Northern Ireland.

Youth Conferencing is government sponsored and regulated and works with the police, Courts Service and Public Prosecution Service. It dealt with 299 cases last year.

Community Restorative Justice Ireland, which operates in some nationalist areas, has no working relationship with the police, PPS or courts. It says it dealt with 1,700 cases last year.

Northern Ireland Alternatives operates in five loyalist areas. It does not work with the PPS or the Courts Service, but works with the police. It says it dealt with 300 cases in 2005.

Presently, the restorative justice groups with republican and loyalist involvement are funded by a charity established by an American millionaire.

That is due to end shortly. To have any chance of receiving government money, schemes will have to abide by its guidelines.




SEE ALSO
McCartneys call for CRJ rethink
19 Jul 06 |  Northern Ireland
N Ireland's 'alternative police forces'
02 Feb 06 |  Newsnight Home
Restorative justice in spotlight
28 Feb 05 |  Northern Ireland

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