Police must be fully involved in restorative justice – Campbell

The Alliance Party has welcomed the statement by Stormont Minister David Hanson that the police are central to the way in which community restorative justice schemes operate and that this is said to be “non-negotiable”. The comments follow the publication of new draft Government proposals as part of a public consultation process on the issue.

Party spokesman Tom Campbell said: “We welcome the commitment that Policing is to be central to the operation of restorative justice schemes and that funding will be denied if there are efforts to by-pass the Police. Justice Minister David Hanson is quite right in conceding that previous plans “did not get it right”. There is a fundamental concern that there are those in the community who will use restorative justice schemes to impose their own debased conceptions of justice on others and that fear will be a prevalent factor in their operation. There are those who do not want their actions to be scrutinised or to be accountable to anyone let alone the Police.”

Cllr Campbell, who is a solicitor and member of Newtownabbey Council, said that as a substitute to the ordinary legal process great care had to be taken to ensure that restorative justice was not used by paramilitary organisations to enforce and impose their collective will on local communities.

He concluded: ” We will hold the Government to its word. There has been considerable anxiety regarding these schemes and the involvement of paramilitaries in it. Many feel that it is morally wrong that those who have committed serious crimes against society should feel that they are now in a position to offer justice and punishment against others. The Police must be fully informed in restorative justice schemes or they will rightly be regarded as reflecting justice in name only.”

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