Bristol Crown Court tests restorative justice scheme

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A restorative justice scheme which aims to put victims of crime first is being tested at a court in Bristol.

The Ministry of Justice and Home Office initiative at Bristol Crown Court will see victims given first refusal to meet the offender responsible before they are sentenced.

Currently, offenders must agree first before such a meeting can take place.

Rhiannon Evans, of Victim Support in Avon and Somerset, said: "This is about putting victims needs first."

Under the terms of the scheme, offenders must be sentenced at crown court and plead guilty to the offences they are charged with.

The meeting will take place prior to sentencing and the judge can take this into account when passing sentence.

Only offenders who really want to engage in the restorative justice process will be accepted and they must undergo assessment before they meet their victim.

It is hoped that if the pilot scheme is successful it will be rolled out across the region.

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