Yet a critical study into how different divisions within Lancashire police use the interventions shows a ‘lack of clarity’, a ‘lack of confidence’ and a ‘lack of faith’ amongst some officers.

It stated there was a ‘cultural and ideological resistance’ to the option.

According to the report, which looked at figures for restorative justice (RJ) between April 2009 and March 2010, its use has shot up in East Lancashire.

In Eastern division covering Blackburn, Darwen, Hyndburn and the Ribble Valley, 800 ‘harmers’ have been dealt with using an RJ - with a 328 per cent increase from quarter one to quarter four.

Similarly in Pennine for Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale, there have been 877 RJs used, with a 232 per cent increase from first to last quarter.

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