Restorative Justice Council responds to Justice Select Committee inquiry report

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1 September 2016

Commenting on the report of the Justice Select Committee’s inquiry on restorative justice, Jon Collins, chief executive of the Restorative Justice Council, who gave evidence to the inquiry, said:

“This report from the Justice Select Committee is a welcome audit of the progress made so far in broadening access to high quality restorative justice in England and Wales and sets out some clear recommendations for next steps.

“The Justice Select Committee’s recommendation that the forthcoming Victims’ Law should include an entitlement for all victims to be able to access restorative justice is wholly welcome. Restorative justice helps victims to recover from crime and move on and it should be available to every victim of crime. Embedding a right to restorative justice in legislation would help to achieve this. Urgent steps must also be taken by Police and Crime Commissioners to make sure that restorative justice services are in place in every area in order to make this entitlement a reality.

“The Justice Select Committee is right to recommend that restorative justice should be available to victims of all types of crime. While some types of crime, and particularly domestic abuse, require robust risk management, wherever possible victims themselves should be able to decide whether restorative justice can help them to move on. The Restorative Justice Council strongly supports the Committee’s recommendation that training should be developed to ensure that restorative justice practitioners are able to safely manage cases involving domestic abuse. This must be implemented without delay.

“Restorative justice works – it cuts crime while helping victims to move on. This report should help to inform further action by the Ministry of Justice to ensure that high quality restorative justice is available to every victim of crime, wherever they live in the country and at every stage of the criminal justice system.”

The Restorative Justice Council also issued a joint statement with Women’s Aid. Polly Neate, chief executive of Women’s Aid, and Jon Collins said:

“We welcome the publication of this report by the Justice Select Committee today, following their Inquiry into Restorative Justice. We especially welcome its focus on domestic abuse and the recognition of the need to get it right for survivors of domestic abuse. We support the finding that it is never appropriate to use Level One of Restorative Justice in cases of domestic abuse, and we welcome this understanding.

“Women’s Aid and the Restorative Justice Council are clear that Restorative Justice can, in certain circumstances, be useful in domestic abuse cases – but only if the survivor’s safety remains paramount. The survivor must feel in control of the process, and it must have no impact on the perpetrator’s criminal sanctions. Restorative Justice must never be taken as an opportunity to minimise the perpetrator’s crime, or be used as an alternative to a more serious criminal justice sanction.

“Specialist training on domestic abuse – and especially coercive control – must be undertaken by all Restorative Justice practitioners. Women’s Aid and the Restorative Justice Council can deliver this training. It is essential that this is done, in order for Restorative Justice to be used safely and effectively in domestic abuse cases.”