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Face to face with their victims
ONE of the newest tools being used by police is restorative justice, an initiative that sees first-time offenders face their victims to explain their actions and see what effect they have had.
In Warrington East, PC Paul Jukes works as a champion of restorative justice, giving talks to police chiefs across the country and even the Home Office.
“It is like policing going back to how it used to be and officers having their own discretion,” he said.
“People often said they just wanted kids talking to if they had committed a crime, but we had no power to do that, it was either arrest them or leave it.”
Bringing them face to face with the people they have tormented stops those involved in their tracks and is more effective than criminalising them, he said.
Last year he used it in the case of three 12-year-old boys who had started a fire outside a disabled woman’s home.
‘It is like policing going back to how it used to be and officers having their own discretion– PC Paul Jukes
“They had got hold of a lighter and were using it for a bit of flame throwing. While they were doing that they found a bundle of bin liners next to two full wheelie bins outside someone’s door and one thought it would be fun to light them.
“The bins, the front door, the whole front of the house went up in flames. The disabled lady who lives there was terrified; she thought she was going to die.”
The three boys and their parents met the woman as part of the restorative justice procedure.
“It empowered the victim to say what their prank had cost her. Those kids really understood the implications of playing with fire. I can safely say they will never do it again.
“It also reassured the victim that she wasn’t being targeted and nobody was out to kill her.”
PC Jukes is adamant that restorative justice is in no way the easy way out for offenders.
“They would much rather explain it to me or another officer than sit down in front of someone they have wronged,” he said.
The process also means victims have a say in punishments. In the case of the disabled woman, all she wanted was a letter of apology, but PC Jukes has encountered people asking for litter-picking duties and other community based work.
If offenders do not complete the work it is treated as a breach of sentence like any other.