Neighbourhood Justice Panels to help resolve anti-social behaviour

Neighbourhood Justice Panels to help resolve anti-social behaviour

In a new bid to tackle anti-social behaviour in the borough, Lambeth Council have created a series of new Neighbourhood Justice Panels, which aims to resolve the heart of anti-social behaviour locally rather than through the courts.

Neighbourhood Justice Panels help people involved in anti-social behaviour or crime to understand the impact of their actions on others, encourages them to accept responsibility for their behaviour and gives them an opportunity to make amends.

Offenders come face to face with people they’ve caused harm to so they can hear first-hand how their actions affect people. These panels also give victims the opportunity to explain how they feel and what the consequences have been for them.

A number of Lambeth residents have been trained to be part of those panels and act as mediators in those discussions.

Lambeth is not the only council in the UK trialing out Neighborhood Justice Panels. South Somerset Council and Trafford Council are also introducing them in their local areas. In a Green Paper, ‘Breaking the Cycle’, the Ministry of Justice consulted on plans to test the effectiveness of neighbourhood justice panels. Public responses reaffirmed the government’s commitment to test the panel approach, enabling lessons to be learned about the types of models and processes used, and the impact of the neighbourhood justice panels.

Neighbourhood Justice Panels have been pioneered in Somerset, Sheffield and Manchester where they have achieved remarkably low re-offending rates (3-5%) and victim satisfaction rates of over 90%. The Panels only work with offenders who have admitted their guilt and only where the victim consents. Serious offences will continue to be dealt with by the Magistrates Courts. The panels’ volunteers work with the perpetrator and victim to form an outcome agreement – for example to repair damage done to property or to work in the community. If the outcome is not completed by the perpetrator the offence may be referred to the courts.

To find out more, get in touch with Corrina Hanley on 020 7926 2903 or chanley2@lambeth.gov.uk

Image above used under creative commons licence from Flickr|The Fox and the Polar Bear