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Cardiff given more say in justice

May 20, 2009

From News Wales (29 April 09): A range of new measures that gives communities more say in the way justice is delivered in their neighbourhoods as well as making local criminal justice agencies more accountable to the people they represent has today been announced by ministers. Cardiff is one of 30 areas across England and Wales pioneering a new package of measures to test a range of initiatives that will deliver justice for all and put people back at the heart of the justice system.

The 30 pioneer areas will pilot a package of measures, including:

* The introduction of Community Prosecutors with a specific role to engage with communities alongside the police, courts and others and ensure that local priorities inform casework decision making and local CPS priorities;

* Community Impact Statements which will give communities the chance to feed in their views on crimes in their area and the impact they have on local people. The statements, which are normally collated by the police, will be used by all facets of the criminal justice system such prosecution, probation and courts

* Extending the use of Citizens' Panels to give local people more say in how offenders on Community Payback schemes repay the community for their crimes through tough projects

* Establishing "Virtual Community Justice Teams" to apply a more intensive problem-solving approach to anti-social and criminal behaviour. This will tackle re-offending by identifying and offering tailored rehabilitation, such as drug assistance programmes.

Over and above this, the Government will be consulting on a number of other key initiatives. These include:

* Establishing a new Adult Restorative Justice Strategy. Restorative Justice has been used effectively by police to confront young offenders with the consequences of their actions, ensure they are able to make amends to their victims and help them to develop a sense of personal responsibility. The initiative has delivered excellent time and costs savings to the police and court system.

* Adopting Commuinity Justice problem-solving techniques in all magistrates' courts. This seeks to address issues at the root of certain types of offending - such as drug abuse - and so tackle the cycle of re-offending by giving magistrates the tools and techniques needed to put in place a specialist approach to rehabilitating such offenders;

* Involving communities more fully in the selection and deployment of District Judges (Magistrates Courts) by working with the Judicial Appointments Commission to lift the veil on how judges are selected and provide more transparency to the public. We also plan to increase the representation of magistrates from a wider range of backgrounds by working with employers and looking at the ways to make it easier for people in full time employment to be magistrates;

* Creating a system of "hallmarks" for magistrates' courts entitled "Justice in the Community" - Re-positioning magistrates' courts to reinforce their purpose in delivering justice for and within local communities.

* Increasing volunteering in Criminal Justice Services through increased promotion of opportunities through the Local Criminal Justice Boards.

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