Belfast Telegraph

Offenders offered chance to give punishment feedback

Victims can also contribute to forums set up to improve probation services in Northern Ireland.

Five forums have been set up (PA)
Five forums have been set up (PA)

Offenders in Northern Ireland are being offered the chance to give feedback on the punishments they receive.

Forums have been established to give those placed on probation an opportunity to relate their views of the experience.

Another forum has been set up to enable victims of crime to offer their opinions on how probation services are being delivered in the region.

The initiative has been developed by the Probation Board for Northern Ireland (PBNI).

It is clear that those who have offended can offer valuable insight to those who make decisions about rehabilitation services

PBNI assistant director Gillian Montgomery said the aim of the forums was to increase the effectiveness of probation practice and enhance rehabilitation and resettlement in the community.

“The establishment of the forums is a first for PBNI and has come about following research in other jurisdictions on the benefits of service user engagement,” she said.

“It is clear that those who have offended can offer valuable insight to those who make decisions about rehabilitation services.

“In addition, we know from research that being listened to and contributing to a more effective system can be valuable to the rehabilitation process for the individual.

“The role of probation is to hold people who have offended to account but it is also to ensure that people who are rehabilitated do not go on to reoffend. We believe that the establishment of these forums will help us achieve that.”

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Five forums have been set up, one of which is for victims registered with the board’s Victim Information Scheme.

“This forum enables victims of crime to have a say in how services are being delivered,” said Ms Montgomery.

“It is absolutely essential that victims’ voices are heard and that we want victims to be able to tell us what works well and how services can be improved.

“The other four forums are for people under probation supervision. Research has shown that when individuals who have offended take responsibility and are able to play an active and constructive role, they are more likely to desist from crime.

“The role of probation is to change lives for safer communities. These forums will help us carry out our work and contribute to safer communities throughout Northern Ireland.”

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