Belfast Telegraph

Offenders offered an alternative to prison in Northern Ireland

By David Young, PA

More intensive community service stints and restorative justice options are being trialled in Northern Ireland as an alternative to short terms in jail.

As part of the beefed-up community orders, offenders could be forced to have face-to-face meetings with their victims or write letters of apology.

Those guilty of offences that would carry a jail sentence of 12 months or less will be assessed by probation officers as to their suitability for the option. Judges will ultimately decide whether to impose the new Enhanced Combination Order (ECO) or not.

The Probation Board for Northern Ireland has developed the orders, which focus on rehabilitation, reparation, restorative practice and prevention of reoffending.

They will be piloted from October in the court divisions of Armagh/south Down and Ards. Northern Ireland's Lord Chief Justice, Sir Declan Morgan, had asked for the probation authorities to draw up the new model.

Belfast Telegraph

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