Grantham Journal columnist: Jacob Stuart

Columnist: Jacob Stuart
Columnist: Jacob Stuart
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A new scheme being introduced in Grantham is sure to have interesting results.

Victims of low level crime are being brought in to talk with the offenders and find a resolution which means the victims are happy and the offenders learn how their actions affect others.

Hearing the difference in reoffending rates between those who sit on these ‘community justice panels’ in Somerset and those who do not was staggering. Having the offenders sat across a table from their victims means a reoffending rate of three per cent compared to two thirds who go through the magistrates’ courts.

While I have concerns over whether this means a new lack of accountability, afterall, why risk a fine and a criminal record when you can feign an apology, the statistics being shown so far are definitely worth taking a chance with.

Stories of redemption for victims is an extremely positive thing while a one shot ‘get out of jail free’ sit down at a table for level crime is obviously a negative.

Of course this is just a trial period and if the rates do not match up well with the likes of Somerset I sincerely hope taking the next step in this route brings about a hard fought debate.

Having deterrents against crime is how our justice system works. In these cases however it seems that personal accountability, from having to answer directly to the victim, forces the offenders to think before acting in a similar way again. Rehabilitating in this way will surely be a greater good than petty fines.

** What do you think to the concept of community justice panels? Do you agree with Jacob’s balance of positives and negatives? Write to us or e-mail: comment@granthamjournal.co.uk