The conferences bring victims and offenders together to hold criminals to account and attendance is voluntary.

Justice Minister Judith Collins says the extra money will almost double the number of such meetings each year to 3600 by 2015.

"We have a better chance of getting them onto the right path. But of course it's not going to be right for every offender - it's certainly not for those manipulative or recidivist or violent offenders who simply don't care."

Ms Collins says participation in restorative justice alone can reduce overall reoffending by up to 20%.

A survey in 2011 of victims who had attended meetings showed about 74% felt safer afterwards.

The move is part of Government policies aimed at reducing reoffending rates by 25% by 2017.

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