24th November 2016
The Work of Community Justice Panels in South Yorkshire
There are four community justice panels in South Yorkshire working within local communities to resolve neighbour disputes and low level crime using restorative practices.
Each district within South Yorkshire has its own community justice panel that are funded by the Police and Crime Commissioner, Dr Alan Billings, the local councils, South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue and local housing authorities.
Community Justice Panel volunteers bring together a victim and a wrong-doer in a risk assessed controlled environment and allow them to meet and discuss the conflict in a bid to resolve it. Both parties have the opportunity to discuss why they are acting in a certain way and how the others behaviour is affecting them.
Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner said: “In South Yorkshire we have four community justice panels based in Barnsley, Rotherham, Doncaster and Sheffield.
“These panels are best placed to deal with local issues as many of the volunteers working on these cases are residents and have a local knowledge of the area and can relate to the issues that people are addressing.
“Baroness Newlove, the Victim’s Commissioner in her report released in April 2016, commended the work carried out here in South Yorkshire. She especially focused on the local dialect of volunteers and how they are chosen to work with victims and harmed people because they can understand what the parties are saying”.
In the report ‘A QUESTION OF QUALITY: A REVIEW OF RESTORATIVE JUSTICE PART 1 – SERVICE PROVIDERS’ published in March 2016, the Victim’s Commissioner refers to a South Yorkshire PCC managed case where an incident of criminal damage occurred between two neighbours. The circumstances highlighted that an RJ intervention would be beneficial to assist with the ongoing issues leading up to the criminal damage and following it.
The RJ manager allocated appropriate facilitators to the case by assigning one facilitator who lived in the locality and understood the local issues, and the other, by reflecting the age of one of the couples involved. This helped the participants feel that the RJ facilitation was being dealt with by local people who had their interests at heart and that the facilitators had the experience, expertise and capacity to deal with the complexities of the case.
The following video sets out the circumstances around a case study that actually happened in Sheffield. The victims form part of the video and the reconstruction is acted out by police cadets from South Yorkshire Police.