Gonzo assessed the situation, as of this morning, with regard to the proposed Community Restorative Justive guidelines and David Hanson went on the record, in November, on what those guidelines should look like. Those proposals have now been made public [pdf file], for a period of consultation *ahem* as NIO minister David Hanson states here “No decision on the way forward will be taken until the Government has fully considered all the views expressed by respondents as a result of this consultative process”.. In his statement, David Hanson also states that –
These draft guidelines are about implementing the Review recommendation for an unambiguous and appropriate relationship between community-based schemes and the statutory agencies, including the police, in respect of dealing with low-level offenders in local communities. I am aware of the concerns that have been expressed in recent weeks about the way schemes may operate. The draft guidelines make clear that the involvement of the PSNI is not negotiable.
As this BBC report points out that the obligation can be through a third party. As this paragraph from the guidelines says –
10. When a community-based scheme becomes aware of an offence or an offender, it will communicate promptly either to a dedicated police officer, or to an identified representative of the PBNI or YJA, the details it has about the offence, the offender and the victim, including such categories of information as the agencies may indicate they require. It should indicate in broad terms how it would plan to deal with the offence and offender if these were referred to it. (This should be a forecast based on previous practice: it is accepted that details
would not be firmed up at this stage.) On receipt of information from a community-based scheme regarding an offence or an offender the
representative of the PBNI or YJA will communicate that information immediately to the police.
But there’s one paragraph, in particular, from the consultative document that may be worth highlighting, from the Introduction, Page 4 –
2. These guidelines apply only to those cases where schemes seek to deal with low-level criminal offences and offenders. It would not be appropriate to refer more serious offences, including sexual offences or cases of domestic violence, to schemes. In addition, the guidelines do not relate to non-criminal matters, or to anti-social behaviour which does not reach the criminal level. The guidelines will be subject to review in the light of operational experience and to reflect developing circumstances and relationships.
Which begs the question – Who decides whether the scheme is dealing with “non-criminal matters, or to anti-social behaviour which does not reach the criminal level” in the first place?