A SCHEME to tackle low-level crime and anti-social behaviour through restorative action in Darlington has out-performed other similar initiatives elsewhere in the UK, figures have shown.

The Neighbourhood Resolution scheme run by Darlington Borough Council was launched in November to support people who had experienced crime and give them a chance to meet offenders and discuss the harm caused.

Figures published by the Ministry of Justice show that the number of referrals to the scheme in Darlington is three times the national average, while the number of restorative meetings held at twice the national average.

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So far 33 people affected by anti-social behaviour have been given the chance to meet the offenders who targeted them, while 60 people in total have been helped to resolve the issues they faced.

The Neighbourhood Resolution service is co-ordinated by Darlington Borough Council and supported by a team of volunteer community facilitators, who work in close partnership with the police and other agencies to support victims.

Bill Dixon, leader of Darlington Borough Council, said: “This is a great result for Darlington.

“We’re committed to working to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour in the town and this is an important way of helping offenders to see first-hand the damage that their behaviour can cause, ultimately reducing the likelihood that they will re-offend.”

Restorative justice has become a key strategy for the police and local authorities as studies have shown high rates of victim satisfaction and reoffending rates of about five per cent.

Darlington Borough Council’s youth offending service won the first National Award for Restorative Justice in July for its work to use restorative approaches to tackle anti-social behaviour and deal with first time offenders.

Durham Police and Crime Commissioner, Ron Hogg, said: “This excellent initiative reflects, not only an innovative approach to tackling such issues, but reflects a deep seated and ongoing commitment.”

Referrals to Darlington Neighbourhood Resolution can be made by members of the public and community groups, as well as professionals and partner agencies.

For more information or to make a referral contact Andrew Hancock on 01325-346872. Referral forms are available from NRreferrals@darlington.gov.uk