Inspectorate finds community restorative justice scheme meeting requirements of Government Protocol

Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland has today (25 February 2010) published the findings of a follow-up inspection examining the work of community-based restorative justice schemes operated by Northern Ireland Alternatives (NIA).

The follow-up inspection assessed the progress made by NIA’s five community-based restorative justice (CBRJ) schemes since CJI’s original inspection report was published in 2007.
“Inspectors undertook a full examination of all files opened by NIA since the last inspection,” said Brendan McGuigan, Deputy Chief Inspector of Criminal Justice in Northern Ireland.
“They sought evidence that where criminal offences were identified, they were correctly referred through the Government Protocol for CBRJ schemes to the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) for investigation and submission to the Public Prosecution Service for Northern Ireland (PPS),” said Mr McGuigan.
“Of the 14 individuals whose cases were referred through the Protocol, all files were found to be satisfactory and all cases handled in line with the requirements of the Protocol,” he said.
The review also assessed NIA’s CBRJ schemes against the criteria the Inspectorate has developed to ensure that human rights, the rights of the child, and UN Principles on Restorative Justice are observed.
As part of the follow-up inspection, Inspectors from CJI visited NIA’s central office and each of the schemes in turn. They also spoke with representatives from statutory and voluntary organisations, local politicians and community leaders who have links with the areas in which the schemes operate.
In addition, Inspectors sought the views of victims of crime and offenders who had engaged with the schemes.
Mr McGuigan continued: “Since 2007, NIA has secured accreditation under the Government’s Protocol for CBRJ schemes which in turn, has assisted the organisation in accessing funding from Government departments, statutory agencies and charitable organisations.
“With its financial future assured, the organisation has recruited additional staff, developed new programmes and strengthened its operational relationships and partnerships with statutory agencies.
“It was evident to CJI that NIA is now operating at a different level than observed three years ago and Inspectors were pleased to note that all of the recommendations made by the Inspectorate in its original report, had been achieved,” he said.
“While the number of Protocol cases Inspectors were able to examine was disappointing, this was outside NIA’s control and Inspectors’ assessment is that NIA has done everything expected of it,” added Mr McGuigan.
In conclusion, the Deputy Chief Inspector of Criminal Justice said: “We would commend NIA for the way in which it has developed since the first inspection was carried out and would encourage it to consolidate the progress it has made so far to ensure its retains the capacity to meet the increasing demand for its interventions.”