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£600,000 for NI restorative justice schemes

Resource type: News

The Irish Times |

Original Source Restorative justice schemes in Northern Ireland are to receive £600,000 over three years, the authorities said today. The funding package is a joint venture between the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) and independent international charitable foundation the Atlantic Philanthropies. The programmes deal with people guilty of relatively minor offences outside the courts, allowing them to meet victims within a community setting. NIO Security Minister Paul Goggins said: Community-based restorative justice (CBRJ) schemes have shown that they can fulfil a valuable role in working with victims and offenders in the aftermath of incidences of low level crime, helping to repair the harm caused to victims and the community as a whole. The funding package I am announcing today is intended to help accredited schemes, successfully operating the protocol, to build strategic partnerships and assist them in developing a robust long term funding strategy. A protocol for the schemes was published on February 5th, 2007. It is designed to provide safeguards against abuse amid concern about the background of some community workers and their engagement with police. Five programmes have already received ministerial accreditation and ten others are completing the process. The five approved are: Northern Ireland Alternatives, Greater Shankill Alternatives, East Belfast Alternatives, North Belfast Alternatives and North Down Alternatives. Earlier this year the criminal justice inspector said they should be funded by government. Chief inspector Kit Chivers said there was no evidence that groups surveyed were a front for paramilitary organisations. The Atlantic Philanthropies has supported the work of the schemes in Northern Ireland for nearly ten years. Its reconciliation and human rights programme director Martin O’Brien said: It has already been established that community-based restorative justice has played a significant role in promoting the peaceful resolution of conflicts in local communities and we believe that it can make a valuable contribution to building a more stable society in Northern Ireland. PA © 2008