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Sinn Fein comment on CRJ Scheme announcement

5 December, 2005

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Justice issues Gerry Kelly today said that "Community Restorative schemes are a valuable community asset which have worked well of over 5 years". Mr Kelly's comments come on the day the British Government published their proposals on future CRJ schemes.

Mr Kelly said:

"Community Restorative Justice is not an alternative to a policing service. It never has been nor pretended to be. Indeed Lord Clyde the Justice Oversight Commissioner recently praised the CRJ schemes operating here and reported that 80% of their work relates to community and neighbourhood disputes which are nothing to do with the formal Criminal Justice system.

"The CRJ schemes themselves have invited the Criminal Justice Inspectorate to inspect and monitor their work. Therefore funding for such schemes should not depend on the opinions of those from within the Criminal Justice structures.

"The recently found SDLP opposition to Community Restorative Justice and the myths which they continue to pedal in the media has nothing at all to do with these schemes or the way they operate. These schemes have been operating successfully in the north since 1999 and we have not heard this hysterical opposition before now.

"The SDLP opposition is based upon a need to prevent further necessary policing changes to justify their flawed decision to jump too early onto policing. The SDLP and Policing Board would be far better off supporting a community based scheme which is working and has impacted positively in hundreds of cases rather than attempting to prevent further policing and justice change in order to justify their own political view." ENDS

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