A SCHEME which puts yobs face-to-face with their victims is up and running.

Kirklees was one of 15 areas chosen to pilot new Neighbourhood Resolution Panels in July.

Under the scheme yobs guilty of low-level crime and anti-social behaviour sit down with their victims and discuss how to make amends.

The panels have now been set up and several referrals have already been made.

Also called Neighbourhood Justice Panels, the scheme deals with offenders aged 18 and over.

The panel is a meeting organised by a trained volunteer mediator who brings all affected parties together.

It is then decided how the offender should make up for what they did, either directly to the victim or by helping the wider community.

More serious offences will still be prosecuted or dealt with in the normal way but the panels will give police an extra option when dealing with low-level crime and anti-social behaviour.

The panels can also be used to help mediate neighbour disputes.

All frontline police officers and police community support officers in Kirklees have been trained in the use of the panels and the scheme also involves a committed group of specially-trained volunteers who will have full support from council and police officers.

Volunteers have already been successfully recruited from across the district.

Referrals already made relate to criminal damage, thefts and neighbour disputes.

Clr Jean Calvert, Kirklees Council’s joint cabinet member for communities, said: “Neighbourhood justice panels can make a real difference to people’s lives and their neighbourhoods.

“It is important to note that the panels only work with offenders who have admitted their guilt and are willing to face their victims and this only happens where the victim consents.

“Serious offences will continue to be dealt with by the magistrates’ courts. I’m hopeful that these panels will make a positive impact across the district.”

Insp Jonathan Dunkerley, the local police lead on restorative justice in Kirklees, said: “We are working closely with colleagues in Kirklees and now have all our police officers trained in this area.

“We are already providing Kirklees with the first neighbourhood referrals.

“I have also seen first hand the training of the volunteers who will deliver this reparation within our communities.

“These people are both professional and motivated and I am confident that this is the right thing for both victims and those persons in the very early stages of offending.

“We have a strict screening system in place and only those offences that are suitable and with agreement from all parties will be referred.”