Colne restorative justice panel to be used as county model

Launch of Colne Community Advisory Panel at Colne Town Hall (from left) Karen Laszky, Derek Saunders, Margaret Foxley, Laura McAfee and Amanda Meachin.'Photo Ben Parsons

Launch of Colne Community Advisory Panel at Colne Town Hall (from left) Karen Laszky, Derek Saunders, Margaret Foxley, Laura McAfee and Amanda Meachin.'Photo Ben Parsons

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A NEWLY launched Colne community panel, which aims to offer restorative justice to residents, is set to be rolled out to 14 other sites in Lancashire.

Chaired by Coun. Margaret Foxley, Colne Community Advisory Panel was launched at Colne Town Hall last week after approximately three years of preparation.

Now, head of criminal justice Tim Ewen has exclusively revealed it is set to be used as a model for similar projects across the rest of the county. A decision on which communities are to benefit will be made in the next six months.

The idea behind the panels, which are made up of volunteers, is to resolve issues or disputes in the community in a simple and straight-forward way. Some issues will need police assistance, while others will not, and all volunteers are trained by Restorative Solutions.

Talking to the Colne Times, Mr Ewen said: “We have taken a great deal of time working with volunteers to set this panel up as a model.

“What I would say to people is ‘absolutely support it’. The work being done is extraordinary, and it is something that will make a difference.”

Coun. Foxley, who has herself experienced the benefits of restorative justice, said she has been left delighted at the feedback received from Colne Community Advisory Panel’s opening event, which included Sir Charles Pollard as guest speaker and a presentation from ex-offender Peter Woolf.

The mum bravely decided to meet the burglar who stole a laptop containing pictures of her daughter, Jessica — who died in a car crash in 2009, just six months after the burglary.

She said: “The launch went really really well. There was good representation from community groups and the police.

“It is the first of its kind in Lancashire, and there are only about three or four across the country.

“It really puts Colne on the map. Our members are all ready to go now.”

And talking to the Colne Times previously, Coun. Foxley said: “It is essential to give the victim an opportunity to express to the perpetrator or the harmer how they are feeling, what harm has been done to them, and let the harmer understand how they have been making them feel.”

Anybody is welcome to join or receive help from Colne Community Advisory Panel. For more information visit www.restorativejustice.org.uk.