City shows the way for use of restorative justice

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AN international conference takes place next week highlighting Hull’s ambition to become “the world’s first restorative city”.

Police can use restorative justice as a way of getting a criminal to understand the impact of their crime while giving the victim the chance to say how it has made them feel.

The technique is being used across the city, however, in a variety of different sectors.

Hull has more than 5,000 professionals across police, schools, social workers and health professionals who have received training in using restorative practices to resolve problems.

The two-day conference, which has been organised by the Hull Centre of Restorative Practice, will also showcase the work being done in Leeds.

The centre is led by primary school headteacher Estelle MacDonald who has taken her school from being in special measures to receiving an outstanding rating from Ofsted. Her school, Collingwood Primary, has developed an international reputation for using restorative practices and receives visits from across the world.

Dave Rawding, a former chief inspector and neighbourhood policing lead in Hull, works as the centre’s expert in using restorative practices in the criminal justice system.

“The idea behind restorative practice is not new,” he said. “It has actually been used by communities such as the Native Americans, Maoris and Aborigines for years where the community gets together and decides how to resolve a problem when someone had done something to harm that community.”

Mr Rawding said that the success of Collingwood Primary School had been a catalyst for the use of restorative practice across different sectors in the city.

“We provide training at the centre, but we also train people to be trainers so that different organisations can use it themselves.”

He said that use of restorative practice in Hull had not only supported victims of crime but had also helped to reduce incidents of anti-social behaviour.

The conference, which takes place on Thursday and Friday, will look at how it can be used to resolve issues within families.

Two international experts from New Zealand – Paul Nixon and Mike Doolan – will explain how working with families is helping to prevent young people continuing to commit crime and anti-social behaviour and cutting the need for expensive custody and care placements.

Mr Rawding added: “Restorative approaches are beginning to
challenge the old methods of delivering which have generally failed.

“Hull is leading the way in its use of restorative methods and through greater collaboration and understanding we have the opportunity to create a ‘blueprint’ for the entire UK.”