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True justice 'first' thanks to the News

Britain is to have its first Community Justice Panel – thanks to a campaign in the Chard & Ilminster News.

The pioneering Somerset scheme, which aims to deal with vandals and other petty villains on a more local level, has been granted Home Office approval – and funding to the tune of £13,000.

The Newsquest title launched its Bring Justice Home campaign to highlight the remoteness of centralised justice and underline the public’s lack of confidence in the criminal justice system when dealing with minor offenders.

The News took the campaign to Tony Blair, former Lord Chancellor Lord Irvine, local MP David Laws and the Home Office.

Hundreds of readers signed a petition in support of the drive to ensure petty offenders were dealt with on a more local level.

The justice panel, made up of volunteers from the community, will deal with making amends following acts of vandalism, criminal damage and other aspects of anti-social behaviour.

Ken Bird, editor-in-chief of Newsquest Somerset said: “The announcement is an absolute triumph for the News team and particularly chief reporter Belinda Bennett.

“It underlines exactly what a weekly newspaper working at the heart of its community is able to achieve.”

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