Police use panels rather than courts

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a POLICING team in Sheffield is taking advantage of Community Justice Panels as a way of dealing with offenders instead of clogging up the courts with minor cases.

Ecclesfield Safer Neighbourhood Team has referred over 100 offenders to the panels since they were set up in South Yorkshire in 2009 as an alternative to court.

They are aimed at tackling re-offending by bringing offenders and victims together to discuss crimes committed and their impact.

The panels encourage offenders to acknowledge their wrongdoing and to make amends to their victims and the wider community by taking part in reparative work.

They deal with incidents including neighbour disputes, criminal damage, thefts and minor assaults and many of the offenders they see are juveniles.

Panels, made up of volunteers from local communities, agree on what reparation work offenders should carry out.

A young boy dealt with by a community justice panel was spared court after being caught setting fires to conifers in Burncross, agreeing to apologise to the owner and pay for damage.