Belfast Telegraph

Youth system works: Ford

Justice Minister David Ford has welcomed a strong independent endorsement of the Youth Conferencing system which operates in Northern Ireland.

A report published this week by the Independent Commission on Youth Crime and Antisocial Behaviour has recommended the introduction of a similar scheme for England and Wales based upon the Northern Ireland model.

David Ford said: "The Youth Conferencing system works extremely well in Northern Ireland in challenging young offenders to face up to the emotional and physical consequences of their actions.

"It provides young people with an opportunity to make amends to their victim, and more importantly meets the needs of victims by giving them a say in the process and an opportunity to tell the offender face to face of the traumatic impact that their crime has had on their personal lives.

"Youth conferencing focuses on a restorative approach and offers the young person the opportunity to make amends to the victim.

“Some of the actions set out in a Conference Plan may include a written apology to the victim, the young person being placed under adult supervision, performing unpaid community work and taking part in activities to tackle their offending behaviour,” Mr Ford explained.

"The youth conferencing service, as delivered by the Youth Justice Agency, is regarded as a world leader by many international experts in addressing in a balanced way, youth crime, concerns of victims and the safety of communities.

"The fact that this highly respected and influential Commission have chosen to recommend that it be introduced into England and Wales is testimony and provides further professional endorsement of the process and shows that Northern Ireland is leading the way in addressing youth crime."

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