Page last updated at 12:19 GMT, Monday, 4 January 2010

North Wales Police chief to step up restorative justice

Chief Constable of North Wales Police Mark Polin
Mr Polin has also pinpointed the damage of alchohol abuse in the home

The new chief constable of North Wales Police is stepping up a system of restorative justice where offenders apologise to their victims.

Mark Polin says he believes the strategy can play an important role in crime reduction.

It is also seen as a way for first-time offenders to alter their behaviour without receiving a criminal record.

Mr Polin said officers would exercise "personal discretion" when dealing with offences suitable for the treatment.

He said that in the past officers felt obliged to offer fixed penalties when another approach might have been better in deterring further offences.

"We need to build on some of the work we have done around restorative justice," he said.

'Victims' wishes'

"We will be seeking to deal with crime and anti-social behaviour in terms of penalty by not just arresting people but seeking the most appropriate method to provide the incentive to the offender to stop their offending," he added.

Mr Polin said he would be providing his officers with "greater discretion" about how to deal with minor crime and incidents, including anti-social behaviour.

"That means that they can properly consider the wishes of the victims and the communities - and they can consider how to resolve a particular incident with regard to those wishes," he added.

Drinking in your own home is not an offence so for us it is very difficult influence from a police service perspective
Mark Polin

He said he did not want his officers to feel "pushed down the route" of issuing a fixed penalty notice, "if there's a better resolution to be had which will better address the needs of the victims and the community - and crucially stop the offending".

The chief constable said the system would also allow victims to tell offenders the "real impact" of what they had done.

Mr Polin added that the force would also continue to tackle drink and drug misuse.

He said: "In relation to alcohol, the biggest problem, UK-wide as well as in Wales, is not so much people getting drunk in licensed premises but the extent to which they are drinking in the home before they go out.

"That's a broader issue that needs to be addressed in a variety of ways and needs to be Government-led because the police alone cannot address that.

"Drinking in your own home is not an offence so for us it is very difficult influence from a police service perspective.

"It can cause problems in the home or after people go out so it can be a double whammy.

"It can give rise to domestic assaults and it can cause public disorder out on the streets.

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