In the restorative justice pilot programmes, Green claimed, there was an 85% satisfaction rate from victims who had been through the process. The early stages, he added, showed a 14% reduction in the frequency of reoffending.

"We have been doing this for a short amount of time and the early signs are very positive," he said. "The idea is to spread this across the country."

As many as 18,000 officers have received training in restorative justice techniques, £1.5m has been allocated, and prison staff will also be trained in the procedure.

Of the neighbourhood justice panels, there are 37 in existence which by late November had dealt with 122 referrals by police officers or local authorities. The idea of these is to involve victims, perpetrators, and the local community.

"These are not meant to replace magistrates courts," Green said. "These are for offences that might otherwise be beneath the radar of the criminal justice system. It may be helpful for the panel if there's a magistrate there.

"The idea is that if you damage my neighbour's house you are damaging my community as well. 2013 will be the year when people become much more aware of the range of neighbourhood justice outcomes."

Green's arrest back in 2008, he believes, makes him a better and more "candid friend" of the police and the criminal justice system. "I have an unusual range of experiences for a police minister," he said. "I have seen the system from all sides. I have had my car stolen and been arrested. I think a candid friend is what they need at the moment." And, perhaps, partially appreciative: he did eventually get his car back.

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