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A partnership project to tackle antisocial behaviour launched in Birmingham earlier this year is already showing success.  The project encourages neighbours to work together to resolve their conflicts early on by bringing them face to face to talk through their issues in a calm environment.

Housing and care provider, Midland Heart joined together with West Midlands Police on the Restorative Justice (RJ) project which brings all affected parties together to tackle disputes, such as noise nuisance and verbal abuse, through joint mediation.

The team have been sharing the projects success as part of International Restorative Justice week at an event in Birmingham with the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, who has jointly funded the project.

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson said:

“Restorative justice enables victims to highlight to the offender the impacts of their crime, so that they take responsibility, make amends and apologise.

“It can help prevent incidents from escalating and thus reduces the burden on the police. Face to face meetings of victims and offenders only occur with the permission of the victim when it is deemed safe.

“Restorative justice holds offenders to account for what they have done and the apology helps give victims closure of the incident.”

The Project started as a six month pilot and is now running as a year-long project. It is funded by the Police and Crime Commissioner, Castle Vale Community Housing and Midland Heart and currently accepts referrals for the Perry Barr, Ladywood and Erdington districts. 

“By bringing everyone together in one room we have seen some really positive outcomes. Those involved are often much more understanding of each others situation when they understand the full picture and by addressing things early we have been able to prevent neighbours from becoming embroiled in bigger conflicts, says David Taylor, Director of Customer and Communities at Midland Heart.

David continues: ‘These meetings are often very emotional but this approach fosters better community relations and changes the way neighbours interact with each other. This is a great example of the added value that housing associations can bring.” 

Since the projects inception in June 2015 360 cases have been referred to the team and for those that have taken part in mediation 86% of ‘victims’ have been satisfied with the way their case has been handled. Positive outcomes include verbal apologies, a reduction in anti-social behaviour and improved communication between residents.

The team deal with a range of issues including neighbour disputes, noise nuisance and verbal abuse and is effective in resolving new disputes as well as resolving conflicts that have been ongoing for many years.

The project accepts referrals from Midland Heart, West Midlands Police, Birmingham City Council, Castle Vale Community Housing and the Birmingham Social Housing Partnership including Family Housing Association, Optima Housing Association, Trident and Nehemiah.

Restorative Justice Week is being supported by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), the Restorative Justice Council, WhyMe? and the Chris Donovan Trust.

To find out more about Restorative Justice Week visit www.restorativejustice.org.uk

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