COMMENT - Justice panels fit the bill

THE Neighbourhood Resolution Panel currently being launched in Marsh Green, the latest in a series of initiatives in Wigan promoting restorative justice, has much to recommend it.

The legal system, with judges and lawyers sitting in courtrooms following the age-old processes of the judicial mechanisms, can often feel remote from the outside world, so having low-level offenders facing community panels can restore a vital sense of engagement with the legal process.

The kind of sanctions the panel hands out will see people directly making reparations to those who have been wronged, and improving the area where they live.

It will keep minor offenders out of court and out of prison, which is incredibly expensive at a time when the public purse is under pressure.

As the panel only deals with low-level crime and anti-social behaviour, it will not affect in any way the criminal courts dealing with more serious cases.

It will deliver appropriate, not soft, justice.