Durham Constabulary's Chief Constable Mike Barton hailed its virtues at a conference yesterday (Tuesday, January 14).

He said: "If a member of my family says something has happened, could I call the police, historically I was always reluctant to advise them to go to the police as I had seen decades of us making it worse for victims, especially within the criminal justice system.

"It is only with the advent of restorative justice that I'm confident telling members of my family to call the cops. How telling is that?"

Mr Barton believes restorative justice gives victims a voice and could be used to help tackle a wide variety of crime, including serious offences such as rape and burglary.

He said: "We've got to stop being patronising and start being imaginative about victims.

"We're pushing the envelope in Durham by offering restorative approaches to victims of domestic violence.

"Some experts might say it's not safe to put a victim into that arena but who are we to say that?

"We've had rape victims successfully do restorative conferences and providing it's done safely and sensibly, we should see it as a good thing and not say the idea is automatically bad."

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