Former Norwich police chief to lead Bangladeshi delegation in lessons on restorative justice

A former Norwich police chief will show a high-powered delegation from Bangladesh how restorative justice can be used to help cut crime without people having to be locked up.

Ministers will be among those in the party spending a week in Norfolk to learn more about alternatives to prison in a bid to ease pressure on Bangladesh's notoriously overcrowded jails.

Restorative justice, which involves getting offenders to apologise to victims and make amends for their actions without having to go through the court system, has proved a big success in Norfolk.

Jim Smerdon, a former superintendent with Norfolk police and now a self-employed law and order consultant, will be leading the delegation, which arrives on September 1, and helping to inform them of the advantages of the pioneering approach.

He said: 'I'm part of a programme looking to reduce the overcrowded prisons in Bangladesh. One of their biggest problems is the inefficiency of their criminal justice system. It can take up to eight years for something to come to trial and the likelihood is defendants will spend most of their time remanded in custody. It will be their second visit to Norfolk to look at restorative justice and its something they're really keen on.'

In Norfolk, which has been singled out as a force that promotes restorative justice by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Her Majesty's Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate, more than 17,000 people have been through the process since November 2007, with a total of 4,611 interventions as of October last year.

Figures released at that time showed that just 10.4pc of children and young people and 14pc of adults dealt with through the restorative approach went on to re-offend.

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Mr Smerdon said the delegation would meet senior police officers and practitioners in restorative justice, Judge Peter Jacobs, representatives from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and defence solicitor Simon Nicholls during the week before spending a week in London.

The stay in Norfolk will also include a visit to Wayland Prison where Dr Ashraful Islam Khan, inspector general of prisons, will see how rehabilitation and training in prisons works.

In 2010 about 1,000 long-serving prisoners in Bangladesh, who had served more than 20 years, were released in a bid to ease overcrowding in jails.

Officials said it was the first time that so many prisoners serving life terms have been freed.

Have you got a crime story? Call reporter Peter Walsh on 01603 772436 or email