Sitting between Clark and Morton at a press conference at police headquarters, Mr Barton said they were among his forceâ€™s top ten criminals and called them â€œPremier League villainsâ€ but praised them for â€œturning their lives aroundâ€.
And the police chief revealed how he had taken restorative justice home with him, having Clark round for dinner.
â€œI can vouch for him when he says heâ€™s drink free because when I served beef bourguignon, he wouldn’t eat it because itâ€™s got red wine in,â€ he said….
Mr Barton admitted crime was rising but said 90 per cent of victims of anti-social behaviour were happy with his forceâ€™s response and every one of 14 inspections this year has said â€œwow, something feels different hereâ€.
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 â€œbig payoutâ€ in reducing re-offending.
Mr Barton rejected suggestions it was a â€œsoft optionâ€, saying: â€œIf people should go to prison, they should go to prison.
â€œVictims donâ€™t want other people to be victims.â€
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