At least £29 million is being made available to Police and Crime Commissioners and charities to help deliver ‘restorative justice’ for victims over the coming three years, Justice Minister Damian Green has announced. The money, which comes from the Victim Surcharge paid by offenders, will be used to help finance Restorative Justice across the country.
Restorative Justice (RJ) processes bring those harmed by crime or conflict, and those responsible for the harm, into communication, enabling everyone affected by a particular incident to play a part in repairing the harm and finding a positive way forward. Restorative Justice is often used as an alternative to a prosecution by the Police and appears to be often effectively used in situations involving young people.
Justice Minister Damian Green said:
“Many victims of crime get to see sentences handed down in the courts, but it’s not always enough to help them move on with their lives. Restorative Justice gives victims the opportunity to look offenders in the eye and explain to them the real impact the crime has had on their life.
“The process also provides a chance for offenders to face the consequences of their actions. Restorative Justice is not a soft option and will not lead to offenders escaping punishment. Crimes of a serious nature will continue to be progressed through the courts.
“Research shows that Restorative Justice is associated with high levels of victim satisfaction and can also help reduce re-offending by offenders.”
Ministry of Justice research of a number of Restorative Justice pilots found that 85% of victims that participated in the conferencing method of Restorative Justice were satisfied with the experience. It also found the process was associated with an estimated 14% reduction in the frequency of re-offending.
The funding announcement marks an increase on money made available for Restorative Justice in 2012/2013, when just over £1 million was spent by the Ministry of Justice.
Restorative Justice comprises a number of different mediums including:
- Face-to-face meetings involving a trained facilitator, the victim and the offender(s) and supporters, usually family members. Such meetings might well conclude with an agreement for further steps to be taken, such as some sort of reparation but this is not mandatory.
- A community conference, involving members of the community which have been affected by a particular crime and all or some of the offenders.
- In-direct communication (sometimes called ‘shuttle RJ’ or ‘shuttle mediation’) involves a trained facilitator carefully passing messages back and forth between the victim, offender and supporters, who do not meet.
Victim Support lead on Restorative Justice, Gaynor McKeown, welcomed the move and said:
“We welcome the Government’s commitment to fund Restorative Justice. Victims tell us that they want to see offenders punished, but also they don’t want to see their offender commit another crime.
“Our work shows that when Restorative Justice is planned around the victim’s wishes, it helps them move on with their lives, and can reduce crime by getting offenders to appreciate the impact of their actions on others.
“We look forward to working closely with our partners to ensure Restorative Justice services meet the needs of victims and can be accessed where and when they want them.”