Community Justice Comes To Plymouth

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Community Justice Comes To Plymouth

Posted: 03/02/2007 13:17:26

Devon and Cornwall Local Criminal Justice Board is hosting a special meeting on Monday the 5th of February at The Future Inn in Plymouth to introduce community justice to local leaders. The aim is to discuss how community justice works and identify a ‘road map’ in developing a community justice model unique to Plymouth. This is the culmination of extensive work that started in May 2006 when judges from New York and Liverpool Community Justice Centres came to the Riviera Centre in Torquay to talk about how community justice has been successful for their areas.

Local councillors, council officers, magistrates and other community representatives from the eighbourhoods of Stonehouse, Devonport, North Prospect and Barne Barton have been invited to the meeting. A representative from the Salford Community Justice project will attend the event to share their experiences.

Mary Anne McFarlane, Local Criminal Justice Board chair and chief probation officer said: “Community justice involves the community, and addresses the issues that concern them most thus increasing their confidence in judges and magistrates. In a similar way, the courts need to make sure that they provide a service that meets the needs of victims, witnesses and defendants.

“This is an exciting time for Plymouth. Today is our first step to decide a plan of action so that Plymouth can benefit from a system that recognises that different areas have different priorities when it comes to neighbourhood crime.

“Community justice aims to strengthen the links between the courts, the criminal justice system and the local community so that local people in Plymouth have confidence in the work of the courts and the wider criminal justice system. I want to build on the good work magistrates already carry out to deliver community justice and to encourage more local volunteering.

“The lessons we learn during this new phase will benefit other parts of Devon and Cornwall who are setting up local community justice initiatives, so that in the long term, the principles of community justice are part of mainstream criminal justice system.”

Devon and Cornwall was announced as a community justice pilot area at the end of November last year by Lord Falconer.

Hazel Poad, Plymouth Magistrate said: “I believe that by actively involving defendants in all issues relating to their offending it would encourage their commitment to any community sentence imposed, and hopefully reduce re-offending in Plymouth."

Community justice brings criminal justice agencies like the Crown Prosecution Service, the police, probation and the courts together with the local community to identify concerns that blight the lives of local people. Residents can also suggest areas or specific tasks that could be given to offenders on unpaid work as part of their community sentence.

Michael Webb, Chair of Magistrates in the Community (Plymouth) said: “ Magistrates in the Community are very active in presenting to Schools and community groups to explain how magistrates and the court system works. Community Justice offers us the opportunity to expand our audience and let local people know what we do.”

Devon and Cornwall will build on the initiatives already in place in Liverpool and Salford, and provide further advice and best practice to meet the local needs in a way that works best for their community.


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