CRJI schemes making a valuable contribution to local communities
An inspection of two schemes run by Community Restorative Justice Ireland (CRJI) has found they provide a valuable and distinctive community work function in North Belfast and South and East Belfast.
Inspectors reviewed the operation of both schemes and their case files to assess their suitability for accreditation by the Department of Justice.
"The schemes were found to be operating in a similar manner to other CRJI schemes and were forming an important bridge between the community and the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) in areas where policing was not yet fully integrated," said Brendan McGuigan, the Chief Inspector of Criminal Justice in Northern Ireland.
"The North Belfast scheme was found to be operating effectively with the police and other statutory providers in a very challenging environment. The contributions made by a small and dedicated staff group were positive and having a beneficial impact in fostering better relationships between the community and the police.
"The South and East Belfast scheme was at an earlier stage of development and did not yet have full time staff. However, the approach and credibility of the practitioners had already been acknowledged by statutory providers, and Inspectors did not identify any concerns about the scheme's overall direction of travel," said Mr McGuigan.
"While we did not see sufficient evidence to form a firm opinion about North Belfast or South and East Belfast CRJI's ability to undertake direct mediation in relation to criminal matters, all CRJI personnel whom we met were very aware of restorative principles," he said.
Mr McGuigan stated Inspectors had identified two areas where improvements could be made to in relation to conformity in addressing data protection obligations and case management/administration procedures.
"The majority of people interviewed were positive about both CRJI schemes. They enjoyed the trust and confidence of statutory providers and their relationship with the PSNI was at an appropriate level in both areas.
"We therefore conclude the practice within the North and South and East Belfast CRJI schemes is of a sufficient standard for them to progress to the next stage of having their staff considered by the Accreditation Panel," concluded the Chief Inspector.