Colne crime victim chairs new restorative justice board

Lancashire Telegraph: Margaret Foxley and (inset) Jessica Foxley Margaret Foxley and (inset) Jessica Foxley

A MUM who helped to transform the life of a man who stole her laptop containing pictures of her late daughter wants other victims of crime to follow suit.

Coun Margaret Foxley is chairing the new Colne Community Advisory Panel which will apply restorative justice principles to tackling crime - asking victims to meet with offenders.

Coun Foxley became the first victim of crime in Lancashire to go into a prison to meet the person who committed an offence against them.

She met Ian Ashworth after he stole a laptop, camera and jewellery from her house.

The laptop contained the last photographs of her daughter, Jessica, who was killed in a car crash with two friends in Colne in July 2009, six months after the burglary.

Coun Foxley visited Ian in prison in October 2009 as part of the ‘restorative justice’ programme.

She said: “The aim of the panel is to use a restorative justice approach to issues in the community.

“We want to nip any issues in the bud before they escalate and we will be working with a range of local people and organisations.

“The issues can come from community groups, from parish council and even minor police issues.”

Mr Ashworth was not at the launch of the panel but Coun Foxley said he had made good progress since leaving prison.

She said: “I have seen how well restorative justice can work. When I met Ian it was the first time he had come face-to-face with one of the victims of his crime, and it was what he needed to make him stop.

“He has been out of prison for two years now, where usually he would have re-offended within three to four weeks of being released, and been back in prison within three to four months. That was the cycle he used to follow.”

The Colne panel, which will involve people from a range of backgrounds, will now be used by Lancashire Police to roll out across the county.

Coun Foxley said: “This is the first of its kind in Lancashire but the police have now got funding for 13 other panels across the county, and Colne will be flagged up as the model for them to follow.”

Panellist Geoff Whitehead, who leads community safety at Pendle Council, said the scheme would take restorative justice techniques and use them in community settings.

He said: “The aim is to try to intervene early and effect a resolution and by doing this it could help prevent problems escalating into crime.”

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