Sitting between Clark and Morton at a press conference at police headquarters, Mr Barton said they were among his force’s top ten criminals and called them “Premier League villains” but praised them for “turning their lives around”.

And the police chief revealed how he had taken restorative justice home with him, having Clark round for dinner.

“I can vouch for him when he says he’s drink free because when I served beef bourguignon, he wouldn't eat it because it’s got red wine in,” he said....

Mr Barton admitted crime was rising but said 90 per cent of victims of anti-social behaviour were happy with his force’s response and every one of 14 inspections this year has said “wow, something feels different here”.

The chief said restorative justice required courage from both offender and victim but could be used for any crime, including murder, death by dangerous driving and, with safeguards, domestic abuse.

He admitted it was more expensive than traditional methods but said it produced a “big payout” in reducing re-offending.

Mr Barton rejected suggestions it was a “soft option”, saying: “If people should go to prison, they should go to prison.

“Victims don’t want other people to be victims.”

Read the whole article.