A SCHEME that brings victims of crime face to face with offenders has been hailed as a success in Dorchester.
Members of Dorchester Town Council were given an introduction to the Restorative Justice scheme, which began with a pilot in Bridport and has now successfully been rolled out in the county town.
Neighbourhood justice panel co-ordinator Alan Jenkins also thanked the town council for providing the funding that helped the scheme get off the ground in Dorchester.
He told councillors that the initiative involved getting criminals in a room together with their victims and their family so they can talk about the impacts of their offending.
Mr Jenkins said the whole process was very much led by the victims.
He said: “The victim has got their hands on the steering wheel and they drive the process.”
Mr Jenkins admitted that the sessions could be ‘intense’ but said the scheme had received extremely positive feedback from victims of crime.
He said: “When you get them in the same room the atmosphere is can be very intense and emotional, but it does pour out of them both the impact on the victim and for the perpetrator their guilt.”
Mr Jenkins, a former police officer, said only particular types of offences were selected for the scheme where it was appropriate and it tended to be crimes like criminal damage.
He said the benefit to the offender taking part was that they would not get a criminal record.
Mr Jenkins said the scheme was ‘on the cusp of going force-wide’ after proving a success in Dorchester and Bridport.
He said: “It’s a great system and it works.”
Mr Jenkins praised the volunteers who gave up their time to support the project, which was supported by Police and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill, and acknowledged the town council for its funding to help set up the scheme in Dorchester.
He said: “Thank you very much for contributing because we didn’t have any other funds at the time – your contribution helped enormously.”
Mayor of Dorchester Stella Jones said: “I think it sounds like a great scheme for Dorchester.”