Critics of neighbourhood justice schemes in the North are receiving a growing volume of complaints and expressions of fear about how they might operate if they receive state funding, it was claimed today.
As he launched his party's dossier on community restorative justice, which the British government is proposing to fund, SDLP leader Mark Durkan warned the Northern Ireland Office was in danger of setting up a "twilight zone system of policing" in which paramilitaries had control over their neighbourhoods.
"We are receiving a growing number of complaints," he said.
"One of the things that strikes us about these complaints is the way in which people come forward and one of the first things they do is seek an assurance that they are not going to be named or exposed in any way for passing on information.
"They are perturbed because of what they have seen in the past. They are perturbed because of how they have been treated or how they know clients of theirs have been treated in terms of restorative justice.
"They, like us, are supportive of the concept but they are just aghast that the Government appears to be intent on throwing money at existing groups rather than setting clear and proper standards.''