At least £29million 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 cash – which has been recovered from offenders – will be used to help finance Restorative Justice across the country.
Restorative Justice is a process that brings together victims and offenders, enabling everyone affected by a particular incident to play a part in repairing the harm and finding a positive way forward.
The funding announcement coincides with Restorative Justice Week, which is aimed at raising awareness and understanding of Restorative Justice.
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 reoffending 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.
For the remaining six months of the current financial year, £5m has been provided by the Ministry of Justice for Restorative Justice. Of that, £3.85m will be distributed to Police and Crime Commissioners. A further £10m will be made available for 2014-15, with £6.25m distributed to PCCs. In 2015-16, at least £14m has been set aside.
Today’s funding announcement marks an increase on money made available for Restorative Justice in 2012-13, when just over £1m was spent by the Ministry of Justice on Restorative Justice.
The money being handed to PCCs is part of a wider pot of funding for victims of at least £83 million through to 2015-16. PCCs will receive the victims’ services and Restorative Justice funding in a single allocation so that they can make decisions about the services that best meet local need.
Funding for Restorative Justice will also be provided to the Restorative Justice Council, Restorative Solutions and the Youth Justice Board.
As part of Restorative Justice Week last year, an Action Plan was published to help bring about a step change in the delivery and provision of Restorative Justice across England and Wales. The Ministry of Justice is publishing a progress report one year on and a refreshed plan which further demonstrates the Government’s continued commitment to Restorative Justice.
The Ministry of Justice has also announced that the Restorative Justice Council will develop key Restorative Justice service standards for training, practice and supervision, as well an accreditation framework. These will be available by January 2014 as part of one of the commitments of the Action Plan.
Victim Support lead on Restorative Justice, Gaynor McKeown 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.
Notes to editors
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.
An RJ activity can include any of the following:
A face-to-face meeting (sometimes called a RJ conference or victim offender conference), involving a trained facilitator, the victim, secondary victims (not necessarily mention in prosecutions) and the offender(s) and supporters, usually family members. Professionals, such as social workers, and representatives of the wider community may also be involved. 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. In certain circumstances live video or audio/telephone can be used as means of bringing parties together;
A community conference, involving members of the community which has been affected by a particular crime and all or some of the offenders. This is facilitated in the same way as a RJ conference but it differs in that it can involve many people.
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. This can also be by recorded video, audio/telephone or written correspondence This approach can lead to a face-to-face meeting at a later stage.
The Crime and Courts Act 2013 places pre-sentence RJ on a statutory footing for the first time. It makes it explicit that the courts will be able to use their existing power to defer sentencing to allow for an RJ activity. Both victim and offender must be willing to participate in all cases. The provisions on pre-sentence RJ in the Crime and Courts Act are due to be commenced in December 2013 and guidance will also be published.
For more information, contact the Ministry of Justice Newsdesk on 0203 334 3536.