Approval given for community-based restorative justice scheme to seek Government accreditation

Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland (CJI) has published the findings of its inspection of Community Restorative Justice Ireland’s (CRJI’s) community-based restorative justice scheme in Newry and South Armagh.

The report, which is published today (15 October 2009), assessed the scheme’s suitability to seek accreditation under the Government Protocol for Community-Based Restorative Justice Schemes.
In line with the criteria adopted by CJI during its previous assessments of other community-based restorative justice schemes, Inspectors sought evidence that human rights, the rights of the child, and UN principles on Restorative Justice were being observed,” said Brendan McGuigan, Deputy Chief Inspector of Criminal Justice in Northern Ireland.
Inspectors also sought among other things to establish that appropriate cases were being passed on to the Police Service of Northern Ireland,” said Mr McGuigan.
During the inspection Inspectors spoke with representatives from statutory and voluntary organisations, local politicians and community leaders who have links with the areas in which the scheme operates.
“Case files studied by Inspectors showed the majority of cases handled by the scheme involved incidents such as underage drinking, anti-social behaviour, minor vandalism and neighbour disputes,” said Mr McGuigan.
The inspection, he said, had shown that the UN principles on Restorative Justice were being observed. Senior police officers working in Newry and South Armagh also indicated that a relationship which held promise for the future was developing with the scheme. 
“Inspectors found that in the small number of cases referred to the Police Service for investigation, all relevant information had been provided,” added the Deputy Chief Inspector.
Inspectors also sought the views of both critics and supporters of the scheme as part of the inspection process.
“CJI spoke with victims and an offender who had engaged with the scheme who were positive about their experience. They reaffirmed to Inspectors that no coercion had been applied to secure their participation and that the outcomes had been fair and balanced.
“During the inspection we found no evidence that the scheme was providing an alternative policing or judicial system. If Inspectors had found evidence of this, CJI would not hesitate to say so,” stated Mr McGuigan.
“On the basis of the evidence examined, CJI has recommended that CRJI’s Newry and South Armagh scheme is suitable to be considered for accreditation under the Government Protocol for Community-Based Restorative Justice Schemes, following the deliberations of the Suitability Panel,” concluded the Deputy Chief Inspector of Criminal Justice.