Victims’ Commissioner calls for wider access to restorative justice
Baroness Newlove, the Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales, has called for more victims of crime to be offered restorative justice.
Her comments come after the release of the second part of her review looking at the quality of restorative justice services, which highlighted that only 4.2% of all victims were being offered the chance to meet with their offender.
Despite most of the 35 victims interviewed reporting to have been satisfied with the restorative justice service they received, the total number of victims offered restorative justice was significantly lower than in the previous year and at the lowest level since 2010.
Baroness Newlove recommended that Police and Crime Commissioners should consider how they monitor the numbers victims being offered restorative justice, that police and restorative justice service providers should develop local procedures to ensure the offer of restorative justice is consistently applied and that restorative justice service providers should work towards a quality standard or indicator.
Baroness Newlove said:
"The decision to participate in restorative justice (RJ) is first and foremost a personal choice. The reason why one victim may choose to participate will not be the same for everyone. However, access to RJ services needs to be consistent and available to all - including offering all victims the opportunity to participate.
"I want to see victims fully informed about RJ, so they can make the choice that is right for them. If criminal justice agencies really are committed to delivering RJ services, then awareness needs to improve."
A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman said:
"Under the Victims' Code, which was introduced last year, all victims can now receive information on how they can take part in restorative justice. We have also protected the victims' budget and given police and crime commissioners almost £70m to support victims in their areas."
The Restorative Justice Council’s chief executive, Jon Collins, said:
“Restorative justice offers victims of crime the opportunity to regain control of their lives and to get closure for what had happened to them.
“The priority now is to raise awareness about its benefits and to ensure that more victims of crime across England and Wales are able to access it at every stage of the criminal justice process.
“It is the responsibility of Police and Crime Commissioners to ensure that information about restorative justice is made available to all victims of crime in their area.”