Friday, April 27, 2007

Liverpool North's Community Justice Court

I had a long visit at this amazing court on Thursday. Susan McCready who manages the centre gave me a very thorough presentation and a tour of the facility which is proving such a success in North Liverpool.

It is a special court, a pilot project really, for a new kind of justice. The court hears criminal cases from across four wards in North Liverpool, Anfield, Everton, Kirkdale and County. It hears cases of crimes committed in those wards I should say, which in the main are committed by local people. There is only one Judge, consequently he knows the persistent criminals as they always come before him, he knows which criminals associate with which others. He knows about family circumstances, he knows the local geography, he can form the links between all of this as he hears the cases. A very good strategy.

All the law enforcers and people working in this sector, work together in the centre. The Police, the Anti-social behaviour unit, the Probation Service, the Youth Offender Team. Then also the support services needed to help people with problems with housing or benefits that have lead them into crime, so there is the CAB and representatives from the local Housing team. Family support workers, victim support, witness support, all sorts of people who are there to protect the victims are also working together in the centre. The fines are administered from this court too so if a persistent offender comes before the Judge he can also find out if they have been paying their last one as well as setting new ones.

The punishments are thoughful too, community orders for instance are usually fulfilled in the same North Liverpool neighbourhood. They might for instance be asked to work on a clean-up in Anfield if the crime was committed there. Criminals sent to Prison can often expect to serve their time at local Walton Prison too.

It is having good results and there are very few hold-ups or adjournments because everyone is on site to quickly resolve any hold-ups over missing statements or documents for instance.

It is joined-up working at its best. Now all we have to do is get the same provision for K&F.

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