A report by the Justice Select Committee, which states that restorative justice (RJ) should be available to all victims of crime, has been strongly welcomed by Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Sue Mountstevens.
In its conclusion, the report surmises that ‘restorative justice, particularly victim-offender conferencing, has the potential to offer clear and measureable benefits to the criminal justice system and to wider society’.
Restorative justice brings victims and offenders together to discuss what happened during the incident, with the aim of giving victims a voice and presenting offenders with the consequences of their actions.
The Victims’ Code states that victims of crime have the right to be informed of restorative justice approaches. However, the report suggests that there is a disparity and inconsistencies in the way forces offer restorative justice to victims.
PCC Sue Mountstevens said: “I welcome the findings of this report as I truly believe that all victims of crime should have access to restorative justice services if they would like to do so. We know that restorative justice is a process that can have a positive impact on everyone involved.
“Restorative justice not only helps to put the victim back in control, but when used alongside a prison sentence or court punishment offenders are 14% less likely to reoffend. It’s important that the process is victim-led and we know that more needs to be done to help raise awareness of restorative justice and its benefits.”
The Justice Select Committee’s Report comes just weeks after the Restorative Justice Council released the results of a poll they commissioned to evaluate people’s awareness of and attitudes towards restorative justice.
The poll found that 80% of the public believe that victims of crime should have the right to meet their offender, rising to 85% amongst those who had been a victim of crime. The poll also revealed that only 28% of the 1,792 respondents had heard of restorative justice.
Speaking about the results, Restorative Justice Coordinator for Bristol, Stephanie Todd said: “It’s vital that victims of crime are aware of RJ and how to access the service. Lots of people I speak to haven’t heard of the process before however can see the benefit in communicating with the offender to explain the impact of the crime, ask questions they may have and find positive ways to move forward. We need to continue to work hard to raise awareness with local people and increase knowledge of this service.’
RJ is available to all victims across Avon and Somerset and can be arranged by one of our restorative justice coordinators, who are located in the three Lighthouse integrated witness and victim care hubs in the Bridewell, Keynsham and Bridgwater.
To find out more about how restorative justice could help you please visit the Lighthouse website – www.lighthousevictimcare.org or you can email the RJ coordinators at firstname.lastname@example.org