Broadland has been chosen as one of 15 districts in the country to pilot the use of new neighbourhood panels aiming to cut anti-social behaviour.

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Neighbourhood Resolution Panels, which will bring victims and their accused face to face in a safe place, will be used by Broadland District Council to resolve neighbour disputes or anti-social behaviour issues.

The local authority was selected by the Ministry of Justice to run the pilot because it has already had some success using similar techniques.

The pilot provides a framework to collect and compare standardised data across the country and to discover which aspects of the scheme are most effective.

The panels will be supervised by a trained volunteer facilitator and a Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) and potentially include other involved members of the local community.

The idea is for all parties to recognise the harm done and reach agreement on how to resolve the problem. This could result in the offender undertaking tasks to make amends or agreeing to some kind of rehabilitation.

No one will be forced to attend a panel but it may be offered as an alternative to starting a criminal process. Cases can be referred by local councils, the police or other bodies dealing with complaints.

Simon Woodbridge, Broadland’s member champion for Crime Prevention and Community Safety, said: “We’ve been working in this way for years in Broadland.

“We know it can work for communities and for individuals who might otherwise find themselves with criminal records and their futures marred. The choice of Broadland for this pilot is recognition of the work of everyone out in the communities that have been involved.”

Andrew Proctor, council leader, added: “We’re delighted to be chosen for this pilot. If low level but harmful behaviour can be successfully tackled this way, it can prevent situations escalating, sometimes dangerously, and bring communities closer together.”

Nick Herbert, policing minister, said the government’s commitment to work with 15 Neighbourhood Justice Panels across the country was a “big step in ensuring local areas have a direct say in determining the appropriate response to the crime and anti-social behaviour which affects them”.

For more information about the scheme call Broadland District Council on 01603 430510.

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