Restorative scheme extended

A RADICAL Thames Valley Police restorative justice scheme, which sees convicted criminals introduced to their victims, is to be extended throughout the region.

The police authority's chief constable, Charles Pollard, will announce the project's extension at a conference next week in front of the Home Secretary, Jack Straw, who is also due to speak.

If all goes to plan, by next April, every police station in Thames Valley will be holding voluntary meetings between convicted criminals, their victims and members of the local community.

The scheme has already been running for two years in Aylesbury. Sergeant Andy Bird, who has been co-ordinating the project in the town, estimated that the rate of re-offending in the area had dropped from 35 to 5 per cent since the scheme was introduced.

Criminal Law Solicitors Association chair Stephen Wedd welcomed the initiative but expressed concern that the project should be genuinely “voluntary on both sides”, and that the victim should not feel pressurised if requested to take part.

The conference, Calling Young Offenders to Account, takes place at London's Royal Lancaster Hotel on Wednesday 29 October.