Young people who were torturing residents in Londonderry were confronted by ‘victims’ representatives’ at special engagement clinics, persuaded of the errors of their ways, and saved from the justice system and potentially prison.
It’s the new face of community restorative justice and it’s working, Justice Minister David Ford told the Assembly this week.
Elsewhere, special domestic violence courts - based on a working model first implemented in Glasgow - and pioneered in Londonderry since 2011, were also being hailed by Mr Ford as a major success of his outgoing Ministry.
The Minister was asked about a scoping study on children’s involvement with the justice system on Monday, March 14.
Asked about young people involved in anti-social behaviour he held up ‘youth engagement clinics’ in Londonderry as a success.
“The Member talks about numbers of young people running amok. Clearly, there are areas where there are problems and, at times, problems bubble up, but we should acknowledge the fact that antisocial behaviour statistics have actually been going down significantly and consistently in nearly every area of Northern Ireland over the last seven or eight years,” he said.
“The important issue is to see the work that is being done, in particular around youth engagement clinics. Two or three years ago, I had the benefit of talking to some of those who had been involved in some of the clinics in Derry and had been talking about some of the specific issues as to how, in one case, victims or, at least, victims’ representatives had engaged with young people who were making their lives a misery and ensured that that stopped,” said Mr Ford.
He also said domestic violence courts in Londonderry were working and that there was more joined-up work across Departmental bodies.
“The work being done by the district judge in Londonderry Magistrates’ Court relating to domestic violence,” was cited as a success.