Victims of crime in Corby will be able to have face-to-face meetings with offenders as part of a pilot scheme being launched in the town.
The system, known as restorative justice, aims to help offenders understand the real impact of the crimes they commit, take responsibility for their actions and make amends.
Adam Simmonds, the county’s Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “The victim can choose whether or not to face the offender. The victim is rarely in a court unless giving evidence as a witness and never has an opportunity to confront an attacker or a burglar. I think that’s poor.
“These days I don’t think they should go off without seeing the victim. The victim can expel anger, explain what has happened and in many cases I’ve seen offenders completely changed by coming face to face with the person they hurt.”
Mr Simmonds said this was not about sexual offences or sidestepping courts and the principle of punishment.
He said: “I want courts to convict people but make restorative justice be part of a sentence.
“It’s not about making the offender feel better either. It’s about the victim being able to decide whether to confront that offender.
“Sometimes the offender comes into a room with an attitude. As if it’s a joke, or doesn’t matter. The criminal hears that a burglary for example is not a victimless crime. Not just stolen property. It’s changed someone’s life. And it actually dramatically alters the criminal’s perception.”
The Corby project is the first of its kind in Northamptonshire and could help shape a national scheme.
It will be run by the Local Criminal Justice Board and Corby Community Safety Partnership and is in line with Government policy to better tackle anti-social behaviour and low-level crime.
A pool of 15 facilitators have already been trained for the Corby scheme.
Mandy Rowlatt, Local Criminal Justice Board programme manager, said: “We are interested in increasing the use of restorative justice, to give victims a greater say in the resolution of crime and in justice outcomes. There have been a number of panels held in the Corby area since the beginning of January and the feedback from the victims involved has been extremely positive.”
Leader of Corby Council, Cllr Tom Beattie, said: “We are very pleased to be running the pilot here in Corby which focuses on victims, gives them a voice and enables those responsible to play a part in repairing the harm.
“We hope that the outcomes will successfully help victims moving forward and that this is something that will be able to help other areas around the country tackle anti-social behaviour and low level crimes.”