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Groundbreaking appointments to local criminal justice board

Devon and Cornwall has become the first place in the country to formally appoint representatives from the voluntary sector to the body responsible for improving the criminal justice system.

Until now the Local Criminal Justice Board (LCJB) has comprised representatives from the police, Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, Crown Prosecution Service, the courts, probation, prisons, youth offending team, the legal aid agency and a criminal defence lawyer.

But from August, Dr Davina Cull, serviuce manager from restorative justice provider Make Amends - Shekinah, and Heather Welch, victim service manager from Victim Support, will join the board.

They will represent the community, voluntary and social enterprise (CSVE) sector – Dr Cull for Devon, Ms Welch for Cornwall.

Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez, chair of the LCJB, said: “These are two groundbreaking, innovative and important appointments which will massively improve working between the statutory and the voluntary sector.

“Both Heather and Davina bring innovation and complexity to the board that will allow it to make more informed decisions.”

Ms Welch hopes her experience working with victims will give the board a better understanding of the impact that policy and procedure has on people.

“It is very easy for our sector and the criminal justice sector to misunderstand each other. We’ve got different priorities, we’ve got different challenges and this is an opportunity for each sector to understand each other better,” she said.

“If we have a good flow of information between the two and better understanding then we can improve the experience for people who are caught up in the criminal justice system.

“One of the challenges faced is the lack of public understanding about how the police and courts work and what they can expect.

“If someone’s experience is different from what they expect they may feel it is because they haven’t been believed or the professionals involved didn’t care - for the CJS to have that feedback is really important.”

Dr Cull, who on a daily basis works with vulnerable people who are seeking to move away from the criminal justice system, says the voluntary sector is used to being agile and innovative in a way that statutory partners are not and this will be in the voluntary sector will be hugely beneficial to the board.

“I have always been passionate about making sure the voice of the people we work with is used to influence services, policies and the design of strategies,” she said.

“My experience of working with people to deliver a restorative service is important because I can represent their needs and bring their voice forward into the LCJB.

 “It is also in our interest to be involved and be engaged as we can bring forward things that are on our agenda.”