Leicestershire Pc Sandie to give US cops policing lesson
New York State's police are to get a lesson in policing from a county copper.
Pc Sandie Hastings will be heading across the Atlantic for a two-week stint with a US police department to teach its officers about restorative justice.
The 58-year-old has been responsible for training her Leicestershire colleagues – and thousands from other British forces – in the concept, in which offenders are made to put right the consequences of their crimes rather than face court action.
She will explain the idea to the officers of Rochester Police Department, who patrol the city with the highest per capita homicide rate in New York State.
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Pc Hastings, who has served as a constable for 24 years, visited the city in 2007 for six months after winning a scholarship from the Fulbright Commission, which promotes better relations between the United States and Britain.
She has been invited back by police chief James Sheppard to train some of his 900 staff.
Pc Hastings said: "I'm thrilled to be invited back but quite nervous as I have to try to get their officers to embrace something that is not in their psyche at all.
"They patrol some very tough streets and I know some of them will be very jumpy about being asked to embrace a concept that is not as punitive as they are used to.
"They have some serious problems with gun crime and murders, so they have a very tough attitude to dealing with offenders.
"When I was first there, judges, police chiefs and district attorneys all said they thought restorative justice would work but politically it was never going to be accepted.
"Now, the situation has changed and there is a realisation that the old approach isn't solving the problems so it's time for something new.
"What I hope they will get is the results we have had here – greater victim satisfaction and reduced offending rates.
"Restorative justice is not a soft option. It is very hard to get someone to accept responsibility for what they have done."
Pc Hastings will spend a week with school campus police and then a week with response officers.
She said: "I will ask them to give examples of incidents they have faced and show how restorative justice could have worked."
Pc Hastings's mission is being part-funded by the US Embassy, with Rochester police, not-for-profit organisation Partners in Restorative Justice and The Mahatma Gandhi Institute meeting the rest of the costs.
Leicestershire Chief Constable Simon Cole said: "It is the special dedication and insight of people like Sandie which has enabled our force and the UK Police Service to embed restorative justice as a practice which is working against the criminalisation of young people and is effectively resolving so-called low-level matters outside of the courts, to the great satisfaction of victims.
"I am delighted our leadership and Sandie's vocation are being recognised across the globe."