Chief constable: Restorative justice means I can now encourage family members to report crime

The Northern Echo: Durham Police Chief Constable Mike Barton Durham Police Chief Constable Mike Barton

A CHIEF constable pledged his commitment to restorative justice schemes after admitting the approach means he now feels comfortable encouraging relatives to report crimes.

Restorative justice, which allows victims to meet offenders and discuss the impact of crime, is being increasingly used to tackle crimes and anti-social behaviour in the North-East after research proved it can cut reoffending by up to 27 per cent.

Durham Constabulary's Chief Constable Mike Barton hailed its virtues at a conference yesterday (Tuesday, January 14).

He said: "If a member of my family says something has happened, could I call the police, historically I was always reluctant to advise them to go to the police as I had seen decades of us making it worse for victims, especially within the criminal justice system.

"It is only with the advent of restorative justice that I'm confident telling members of my family to call the cops. How telling is that?"

Mr Barton believes restorative justice gives victims a voice and could be used to help tackle a wide variety of crime, including serious offences such as rape and burglary.

He said: "We've got to stop being patronising and start being imaginative about victims.

"We're pushing the envelope in Durham by offering restorative approaches to victims of domestic violence.

"Some experts might say it's not safe to put a victim into that arena but who are we to say that?

"We've had rape victims successfully do restorative conferences and providing it's done safely and sensibly, we should see it as a good thing and not say the idea is automatically bad."

Restorative justice proved life-changing for ex-burglar Peter Woolf, who turned his back on crime 12 years ago after coming face-to-face with two of his victims.

Addressing the Restorative Approaches conference, hosted by the Safer Durham Partnership, former prolific offender Mr Woolf said he had given up drugs, drink and crime after realising the impact his crimes had had.

He said: "Up until that point, victims for me were A4 pieces of paper in the form of a statement, sterile and impersonal.

"I could justify myself to them on paper, tell myself they were rich or they were insured and I never saw them.

"But one of them could never set foot in his house again and had to sell it. When I came along and smashed his window, I smashed his life to pieces too."

Comments (5)

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8:58am Wed 15 Jan 14

Homshaw1 says...

It is interesting that Mr Woolf gets the headlines. Its always about the offender who causes the problem never the victim who is the one to suffer.

The British justice system isn't the best in the world. It is a joke.
It is interesting that Mr Woolf gets the headlines. Its always about the offender who causes the problem never the victim who is the one to suffer. The British justice system isn't the best in the world. It is a joke. Homshaw1
  • Score: 6

9:52am Wed 15 Jan 14

oliviaden6 says...

Victims mean nothing to these people. The Law is loaded against victims and to ask victims to meet the felon who has done there house of worse is a step to far for me.; lets have proper policing and proper deterrents, instead of sucking up to criminals give them bread and water love a slap on the wrist.
One might even consider making them join the services that would have the effect of sorting the short fall out in recruitment.
Victims mean nothing to these people. The Law is loaded against victims and to ask victims to meet the felon who has done there house of worse is a step to far for me.; lets have proper policing and proper deterrents, instead of sucking up to criminals give them bread and water love a slap on the wrist. One might even consider making them join the services that would have the effect of sorting the short fall out in recruitment. oliviaden6
  • Score: 5

1:14pm Wed 15 Jan 14

ian923 says...

This Chief Constable is obviously one of the PC brigade .Whether these are his own developed views or derived from brainwashing at the waste of time Police College is not known but criminals deserve punishment not forgiveness and restorative justice gives them that. The victims tend to be humiliated by what happened originally and talking to the person who did it and made them feel bad is no adequate recourse. Unfortunatelt the Police College has bred these sort of Senior Officers over many years and has not taught them the lesson on who is the most important in these cases. For me it is ALWAYS the victim.
This Chief Constable is obviously one of the PC brigade .Whether these are his own developed views or derived from brainwashing at the waste of time Police College is not known but criminals deserve punishment not forgiveness and restorative justice gives them that. The victims tend to be humiliated by what happened originally and talking to the person who did it and made them feel bad is no adequate recourse. Unfortunatelt the Police College has bred these sort of Senior Officers over many years and has not taught them the lesson on who is the most important in these cases. For me it is ALWAYS the victim. ian923
  • Score: 3

3:26pm Wed 15 Jan 14

miketually says...

"research proved it can cut reoffending by up to 27 per cent"

Pfft, you can prove anything with facts.
"research proved it can cut reoffending by up to 27 per cent" Pfft, you can prove anything with facts. miketually
  • Score: -1

11:54pm Thu 16 Jan 14

bigbadtee says...

So when are the Brams Hill (policing excellence college) going to stop being politically motivated in pushing this left wing tosh. You end up with Chief Constables like this. All of them have never personally see victims of crime as they have never dealt with any crime, in fact have never seen a crime, or how victims are effected. If they want to do something that the victims and the public want campaign for 'life in prison' to be just that. We know there is no chance in hell for capital punishment, but stop these animals committing further murders, rapes etc by keeping them away from the public and therefore prevent crime. The truth is, that it is far cheaper than taking the offender to court, it gets a quick detected crime statistic, but causes more pain to victims.
So when are the Brams Hill (policing excellence college) going to stop being politically motivated in pushing this left wing tosh. You end up with Chief Constables like this. All of them have never personally see victims of crime as they have never dealt with any crime, in fact have never seen a crime, or how victims are effected. If they want to do something that the victims and the public want campaign for 'life in prison' to be just that. We know there is no chance in hell for capital punishment, but stop these animals committing further murders, rapes etc by keeping them away from the public and therefore prevent crime. The truth is, that it is far cheaper than taking the offender to court, it gets a quick detected crime statistic, but causes more pain to victims. bigbadtee
  • Score: 2

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