‘The Coalition: Programme for Government’ stated that ‘we will introduce effective measures to tackle anti-social behaviour and low-level crime, including forms of restorative justice such as Neighbourhood Justice Panels’.
In the 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 are a means of working with local communities using restorative justice to address problem behaviour and low level offending which affects communities, and to repair the harm caused.
Neighbourhood justice panels involve the victim, perpetrator and any wider community interest in agreeing the details of a restorative justice outcome for anti social behaviour and low level offending which is being dealt with informally or where a conditional caution requires a restorative justice element which a neighbourhood justice panel can help agree.
The Ministry of Justice has been working with 15 areas to test the approach of neighbourhood justice panels, to assess the processes areas use in setting up and delivering the panels and to monitor inputs and outputs. We will also examine victim satisfaction and community confidence. We will also aim to examine the subsequent offending of perpetrators who have been through the formal panel process.
Information received from our test areas indicates that as of 28th November 20121:
- 122 cases2 had been referred3 to areas in our test
- 37 panels had been held by areas in our test
- This information is based on a snapshot of information given by our areas, based on practice up to 28th November. This information relates to all cases referred to a neighbourhood justice panel in the Ministry of Justice test. There are a range of reasons why a case referred may not have resulted in a panel by this point, including, but not exclusively limited to: the case may have been deemed unsuitable for an NJP; the parties involved may have withdrawn their involvement; the case may have been ongoing at that point this data was provided; or, the matter may have been resolved outside of the panel.
- A case may involve more than one perpetrator and / or victim
- For the purpose of this data release, test areas were asked to record referrals from the point at which the perpetrator(s) of harmful behaviour had received a letter formalising their referral to the NJP. In December 2012, recording practices are due to change, and areas will be asked to also count referrals that did not make it to this stage. Any referrals received pre December 2012 that did not make it to this stage in this process have not been counted here.