Alliance has set out a number of key principles that should govern any Community Restorative Justice (CRJ) schemes. The Party has said it will accept such schemes only on the basis that they are an addition to, rather than an substitute for, the existing criminal justice system.
Outlining the proposals, Justice Spokesperson Cllr Stephen Farry stated:
“We now have the most accountable and transparent police and criminal justice system in the world. We will not allow those high standards to slip within any Community Restorative Justice proposals.
“CRJ must not operate as an alternative to the regular police and criminal justice system. It must, therefore, be based on five key principles.
“First, protections must be in place to ensure that neither the victim nor the alleged perpetrator are coerced into participating within any CRJ scheme.
“Second, statutory agencies, including the police, must be represented on the boards of such schemes. All boards should be given the information on all the individual schemes handled by the CRJ project.
“Third, separate from the above process, the police must be informed of all referrals and should be able to make an initial judgement as to whether a particular suspect would be better processed through the formal criminal justice system.
“Fourth, those running CRJ schemes must receive formal training, including in human rights and due process, and this training must be externally reviewed and sanctioned.
“Finally, the operation of CRJ schemes and their funding must be annually reviewed by the NIO.
“We have no difficulty with the concept of restorative justice. It can provide an effective means to address low-level crime and anti-social behaviour. But because it exists at the fringe of the criminal justice system, the need for such safeguards is paramount.”