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					                                     CONNECT

Introduction
The Connect Project is a new project (2001)working with adults offenders convicted
at Camberwell and Tower Bridge Magistrates Courts and the victims of their Crimes.

It is intended to spend June, July and August 2001 preparing for taking referrals in the
September. This lead in time will involve developing policies and key protocols,
publicity preparatory seminars for key partner agencies and recruitment and training
of staff. Funding for the project is guaranteed until March 2003

The primary restorative approach used by CONNECT will be the group conference. If
successful, a restorative plan will be agreed by all parties, carried out by the offender
and verified by the project facilitators/mediators. Where victims opt for a different
restorative method e.g. face to face mediation, indirect mediation or other forms of
reparative activity that method will be utilised.

CONNECT is funded under the Home Office Research Department's Crime
Reduction Programme. Consequently, the outcomes will be rigorously evaluated
Without prejudging this evaluation, we do know that a similar pre-sentence adult
offender project in New Zealand achieved a 14% reduction in reoffending and a
reduction in the seriousness of the offences for those who did go on to reoffend after
the programme.

This project provides an opportunity to test out the effectiveness of a judicially
initiated and reviewed model of restorative justice. It will help to determine whether
victim & offender participation rates differ from other models of restorative justice

Objectives of the CONNECT project

   •   Reduce re-offending either by desistance or by a reduction in seriousness over
       a 2 year time span on completion of restorative justice process.
   •   Enable the victim to ask questions and receive information from the
       perpetrator about the offence.
   •   Enable the victim to receive reparation and/or apology from the offender.
   •   Increase a sense of responsibility and personal accountability by the offender
       for his/her offence.
   •   Leave the victim and offender with a greater sense of satisfaction about the
       criminal justice process.
   •   Assist the victim to achieve a sense of closure and allow him/her to continue
       their lives without fear
   •   Give the opportunity and capacity of offenders to put thing right and thus aid
       their social reintegration.
   •   To give restorative justice process increased status through judicial oversight.

   •   It is important to note that this project is not aimed at sentence reduction or
       displacement. While it may be that sentencers may take into account the
       efforts and achievements of the offender every effort will be made to ensure
       that it is not seen as a way of being dealt with more leniently.

Referrals to the CONNECT project
Following conviction, the district judge/lay bench would remand the case for reports.
The victim and offender will be contacted by project staff. If both agree to take part in
the restorative justice process, the sentencers would defer sentence for up to six
months (Powers of the Criminal Courts Act 1973, section 1). In practice, it is believed
that deferment for the vast majority of cases would be between 2 and 4 months.

There are three ways in which a referral to the project would be made. A district
judge/lay bench magistrate may remand the offender and then;

i. refer the matter straight to the project
ii. refer the matter initially for Pre-Sentence Report (PSR), asking the Probation
Service to consider the matter for restorative justice
iii. refer the matter for PSR. The officer would be free to make all consideration.

Successful restorative outcomes need the fully informed consent and commitment of
both parties. If neither the victim and/or the offender wish to take part in the project,
the case would again be referred back to court for sentencing.

   •   The key activities of the CONNECT project
       During the adjournment for reports project staff will consult with both the
       victim and offender to explain the options and to see if both are willing to
       engage in the restorative process.
   •   The project will present to the Court a short report outlining their judgement
       about the willingness of the parties, the likely restorative method and a
       judgement as to feasibility
   •   Where the victim and offender prove willing and the court agrees to this, the
       project will prepare both and other concerned parties, as appropriate, for the
       restorative intervention and facilitate the meeting
       Where the meeting concludes with certain requirements on the the offender
       being made, the project will draw up a contract and monitor its performance..
   •   Where the offender is willing but the victim does not want any form of
       contact, the project will supervise any reparation to the victim directly or to
       the community where the Court agrees that this course of action should be
       followed.
   •   The project will provide a report to Court, outlining the outcome of the
       restorative activity with specific regard to the completion of any action by the
       offender. The victims consent for the report, will be obtained regarding any
       information disclosed about him/her and the specific outcomes that had been
       agreed

Staffing and management
The staff group will consist of a manager, 2 project workers and a half time
admin/research facilitator.

The project will be managed by Nacro, under the auspices of London Probation Area.
To assist them in operating this project there will be a steering group, chaired by the
Assistant Chief Probation Officer and consisting of representatives of core partner
agencies and others with expertise in this area.
Further information:

Criteria For Referral
Cases where there is an identified personal victim who is likely to have experienced a
sense of harm or injury

   •   Cases where the sentencer considers that making a non custodial sentence is
       not inevitable
   •   The only types of offence to exclude are sexual offences and domestic
       violence
   •   Cases where the offender has continued to proclaim total innocence or blame
       the victim are not likely to be suitable.
   •   In certain cases there may be question marks over the offender's ability to
       make a realistic commitment to a restorative contract (for example significant
       mental health problems or an extremely chaotic life style). These may well be
       cases where the sentencer would be requesting a PSR and suitability for
       CONNECT can be considered at that stage.

Information for lawyers
The CONNECT project is funded by the Home Office to provide a range of
restorative justice work. The scope of restorative work is outlined overleaf: it all
involves assisting the offender and the victim to put the effects of the crime behind
them and continue their lives normally. The court will defer sentence, normally for 2-
4 months, in order for meetings to take place and reparation to be made.

Some of the benefits of Restorative Justice

   •   It gives courts more options in sentencing and more information on which to
       base that sentence.
   •   It allows the victim to be heard, to receive an apology and possibly reparation.
   •   It gives the offender the opportunity to make good some of the harm caused.
   •   It increases satisfaction with the criminal justice system for all parties and
       agencies.

The defendant's involvement
Restorative interventions will occur during a period of deferred sentence following an
adjournment for a feasibility report. A key principle of CONNECT is informed
consent and we seek to ensure that all involvement is voluntary and that nobody is
pressurised to agree to anything with which they do not feel comfortable.

We recognise that asking defendants to talk to, work with and meet their victims is a
major challenge and constitutes hard work. However, all the evidence demonstrates
the benefits in terms of increased sense of achievement and confidence, a feeling of
wiping the slate clean and a reduction in re-offending.

We understand from the court that a decision by a defendant not to be involved with
the CONNECT project cannot be used to justify a heavier sentence than would
originally have been imposed.

While the CONNECT project does not aim to achieve sentence reduction for
defendants it is inevitable that successful engagement during the period of deferment
is likely to be taken into consideration by the court.
The victim's involvement
The process cannot proceed without some positive involvement by the victim.
CONNECT staff will work to ensure that the victim's rights are protected throughout
the process. (See victim's leaflet.)

Criteria for referral
· Any case that has an identifiable victim who is likely to have experienced a sense of
harm or injury. This will usually be private individual(s) but a corporate victim need
not be ruled out.

   •   Those cases where the sentencer considers that a custodial sentence is not
       inevitable.
   •   Any type of offence can be considered, except sexual and domestic violence
       offences.

Referral process
1. You might consider that CONNECT is suitable and suggest it to the court
2. The court clerk, CPS or defence solicitor may suggest that it could be suitable
3. The court may consult you because they are mindful of making a referral to
CONNECT. They can make the referral directly or stand the case down for an initial
assessment.
4. A PSR writer could suggest that CONNECT is suitable and can refer directly to the
project

The court will adjourn for three weeks, during which time CONNECT will interview
both defendant and victim and produce an assessment report. This could coincide with
a PSR.

If both parties are still interested and the case judged suitable, sentence will be
deferred for the restorative work to take place.

Length of deferment
The Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000, Section 1 allows sentence to
be deferred for up to 6 months, however period of 3 months should allow enough time
for preparation, the conference and meaningful completion of any agreed plan.
Sentence can then be delivered while the matter is still fresh in the mind of the
offender. Cases may vary and CONNECT staff can advise as part of their assessment.

What involvement with the CONNECT project will mean
The main restorative approaches that CONNECT will use are:

Group conferences: The victim has the opportunity to attend with their supporters, put
forward their views and receive an apology. The defendant, their family and
significant supporters form an action plan which can be delivered prior to the final
sentence.

Direct face to face mediation: Professionally facilitated meetings involving the victim
and offender with agreed ground rules and a clear structure
Indirect mediation: When either party does not wish to meet face to face or it is
judged to be unsafe or unproductive to do so views can still be expressed and
reparation made. This can be done by letter or tape or the facilitator can move
between both parties.
Practical reparation: Performing tasks for the benefit of the victim or for a community
or charitable organisation should the victim so choose.

Whatever method is used the contents of the discussion will be informal, confidential
and non-judicial. A plan of action will be drawn up reflecting the agreements reached.

At the end of the deferred period CONNECT will produce a report for court
commenting on the success of the process and the defendant's achievements.


REPARATION
There has been considerable use of the term reparation in relation to restorative
justice, under the provisions of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998.

Reparation means to make good or repair hurt. It can be achieved just by going
through the mediation process, or by both parties voluntarily agreeing that the
offender will carry out specific activities.

Best practice would thus take reparation to mean a wide variety of activities
including:

   •   Information to the victim(s) about the offence
   •   An apology (written or face-to-face)
   •   Specific undertakings as to future behaviour (to victim(s) as well as to the
       community)
   •   Undertaking some course of an educational or rehabilitative nature (e.g.
       literacy or drugs)
   •   Taking part in a meeting or conference leading to an action plan for self-
       improvement
   •   Direct financial compensation to the victim(s)
   •   Indirect financial compensation (e.g. donation to a charity of the victim's
       choice)
   •   Reparation to the community cannot be offered at this time but where a
       specific agreement is made at a conference we may be able to facilitate
       individual cases. (NB the concept is that the offender should carry out this
       work with the agreement of the victim and that it should assist in reintegrating
       them into the community and not simply be a punishment. It should not
       therefore be used to replace community service.)

It may be helpful to quote Paragraphs 2.3 - 2.4 of the Home Office Guidance on
Reparation Orders which states what these orders are intended to achieve and it seems
reasonable to assume that this intention will be the same for reparation activities
carried out by adult offenders under this project.

"By allowing the offender to undertake some form of practical reparation activity
which will benefit the victim (if the victim so wishes it), it is hoped that the victim
will gain a greater insight into the reasons for the offence, and will therefore be able
more easily to come to terms with the offence, and put it behind them. Reparation to
the victim will also help the offender to realise the distress and inconvenience that his
or her actions have caused, accept responsibility for those actions, and have
opportunity to make amends either directly to the victim, or to the community as a
whole.
"Reparation under the order is intended to challenge the (young) offender's behaviour
and attitudes. It should not be a mechanistic process based upon an "eye for an eye"
approach; any reparation should be tailored both to meet the needs of victim(s) (if
they wish to be involved) or benefit the wider community, and address the (young)
person's offending."

Information for Probation Officers
(draft to be updated after discussion)

The Connect project provides a range of restorative interventions designed to reduce
re-offending, produce better outcomes for victims and give victims more say. The
court will defer sentence normally for 2-4 months in order for meetings to take place
and reparation to be made. The project will work with all relevant agencies to assess
each case and offer the most appropriate form of restorative intervention. These can
include group conferences, face to face mediation, indirect mediation and practical
forms of reparation

Accessing the service
Many cases will come directly to Connect without any probation involvement. This
will be where the court is mindful to sentence in the fine/discharge band, However, in
some cases the court will request both a Connect assessment report and a PSR. In
other cases the court will simply ask for a PSR. You will then want to consider the
suitability of the case for Connect and, if it is appropriate, you can refer directly to the
project.

When you should make a referral
We would invite you to consider the appropriateness of referring to Connect for all
cases except:
1. Where the court has already ordered a Connect report
2. Where custody is inevitable and you are only addressing sentence length.
3. Where there is no identifiable victim.
4. Sexual or domestic violence offences.

Referral information required / Connect and Probation working together
Constructive partnership needs to be based on mutual respect and the avoidance of
substantial extra responsibilities for an already over-stretched probation service. With
this in mind, we are asking for:
1. Basic referral information on the offence and the offender.
2. Sharing of any risk assessment
3. Liaison on the content of the professional advice given in the reports to court
4. Exchange of essential information prior to final sentence

Contact details
There will be a Connect officer at Camberwell Magistrates Court every morning (our
office is on the 4th floor) or contact us on:
Tel. Fax.
Project Manager: Ben Lyon Project Officers: Jake Osborne, Caroline Harding

The CONNECT Project is a partnership between Nacro and the London Probation
Area and is funded by the Home Office Crime Reduction Programme. Nacro
registered charity number 226171

				
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