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  • Faith-based organisations can lend greater support to the process by allowing the use of their facilities as resource centres, said Bunting.
  • The Tivoli police post in West Kingston was cited as an example of this approach by the Ministry.

National Security Minister, Hon. Peter Bunting, has pointed to the need to incorporate community institutions, such as the church, in the restorative justice programme.

He said that faith-based organisations can lend greater support to the process by allowing the use of their facilities as resource centres.  In addition, church administration and their membership can be trained and equipped as stakeholders in the restorative justice process.

“The reports I get from the National Intelligence Bureau reports tells of at least 50 different gang conflicts in different communities. It means that, ideally, we would need (for example) 50 different restorative justice centres operating. In every one of these communities, we have churches, we have an infrastructure already…they have church halls, and we need to coop some of these to (be) used as restorative justice centres,” the Minister stated.

He was addressing the fifth international restorative justice conference held on Friday (Feb. 21), at the Knutsford Court Hotel, New Kingston.

Restorative Justice is a process whereby all the parties with a stake in a particular offence come together to resolve collectively, how to deal with the aftermath of the offence. It focuses on holding the offender accountable in a more meaningful way and achieving a sense of healing for both the victim and the community.

Minister Bunting said that restorative justice “is an important tool in our suite of approaches and interventions” in addressing crime and violence, as it employs a more holistic approach to the traditional law enforcement measures.

He cited the Tivoli police post in West Kingston as an example of this approach by his Ministry.

“One of the things that we (have done) is (establish) a conference room in that police post that is used by the youth club for their meetings. So we, right away, want to start changing the experience of the young people of the police… (that they are) not (only focused on) always (rounding) them up off the corner to process them,” the Minister said.

He argued that the “more community groups, citizens of goodwill, and churches that we can get to recognize how profound a developmental obstacle the issue of crime and violence is to our society, (and) if we can provide a template to move from concern to action, then we can start to mobilize what I think are tremendous resources (to more effectively address the issue).”

The one-day conference, which was attended by local and overseas presenters and stakeholders, was staged by the Ministry of Justice under the theme: ‘Restorative Justice as a Catalyst for Unity, Healing, and Transformation’.