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Last Updated: Sunday, 4 July, 2004, 08:44 GMT 09:44 UK
Victims help decide punishments
Victims of anti-social behaviour in a Somerset town are to help decide the fate of offenders.

Chard is to receive 25,000 in grants to pay for a coordinator to set up a Community Justice Panel.

The panel will be drawn from councils, housing associations, police, residents associations and chambers of commerce.

Victims can be involved in dealing with vandals and petty criminals at a local level, which includes drawing up behaviour agreements with offenders.

10,000 each is coming from the Government Office for the South West (GOSW) and the Home Office Anti-Social Behaviour Unit. A further 5,000 is being donated by Avon and Somerset police.

Miriam Minty, Crime Manager from the GOSW Crime and Drugs Team, said: "Community Justice Panels are an innovative way of tackling the sorts of inconsiderate behaviour that blight peoples' lives.

"The Panel will use local agencies and victims to draw up agreed changes to the offenders behaviour, without courts at that stage."

She added that conventional criminal justice procedures would be used if the agreements were breached.

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