A NEW initiative to help tackle anti-social behaviour and crime in Wirral has been launched.

Wirral Neighbourhood Justice Scheme is designed to empower communities to resolve conflicts, with locally recruited community volunteers using restorative justice to bring together those who have caused harm – and those who have been affected – to try and help repair the damage done.

The initiative was launched on Tuesday by Wirral Council, Merseyside Police, Crown Prosecution Service, Merseyside Community Rehabilitation, Community Action Wirral and Magenta Living – on behalf of the Respect Consortium of social landlords tackling anti-social behaviour.

Local volunteers, trained by Restorative Solutions, have been recruited to help deliver the scheme, and will be working with victims of crime and anti-social behaviour through neighbourhood justice conferences.

Wirral Neighbourhood Justice Scheme is designed to tackle anti-social behaviour and lower levels of crime by adults, young people and children.

It works by encouraging a sense of responsibility and acknowledgement of the harm caused.

All parties must be willing to take part in the process, and the volunteers facilitate each part of the process.

Councillor George Davies, Wirral’s cabinet member for neighbourhoods, housing and engagement, said: “The restorative justice approach is proven to reduce offenders committing further offences, stop conflict from escalating and reduce the harm caused to victims. It also gives victims of crime or on the receiving end of anti-social behaviour a sense of closure.

“This process will work in tandem with existing enforcement processes, helping resolve issues and preventing reoccurrence. However, appropriate enforcement action will continue to be undertaken in cases where the perpetrator refuses to co-operate and/or the behaviour persists.”

The conferences bring victims and wrongdoers together in a safe environment to reach an agreed outcome using restorative justice.

This could include a form of apology or other activity to repay the victim or community, either with work or financially.

The meetings give victims a greater voice in deciding the outcome for the perpetrator, putting them first and often reducing the impact of the harm caused to them.

The process also helps to reduce re-offending as wrongdoers get a better understanding of the impact of their behaviour.

However, the scheme will only be applied in cases where those responsible admit their behaviour and where the victim approves – it is a victim-led process.