Press release

Plan to give more victims a voice – Restorative Justice

The Government’s plan for a rapid expansion of restorative justice – where victims of crime are given the opportunity to confront their offender – was boosted today with the publication of a new nationwide action plan for the criminal justice system to coincide with International Restorative Justice Week.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The ‘Restorative Justice Action Plan for the Criminal Justice System’ is designed to increase awareness of restorative justice and enable more victims across the country to access a high quality service.

The plan sets out a series of priorities that will embed restorative justice into the criminal justice system as well as make it more consistent and widely used across England and Wales. This builds on the Government’s amendments to the Crime and Courts Bill to give judges explicit powers to defer sentencing to allow for restorative justice to take place.

The action plan is aimed at:

  • increasing the number of trained professionals who deliver restorative justice and ultimately help more victims
  • improving awareness among victims of the availability of restorative justice This will enable victims of crime to:

  • easily locate a well trained restorative justice practitioner in their local area through an online resource
  • access restorative justice at a time that’s right for them
  • know that all practitioners within the criminal justice system are working to consistent standards
  • be confident that their restorative justice experience has been recorded appropriately by a trained restorative justice facilitator who is aware of what to monitor

Justice Minister Jeremy Wright said:

‘Many victims of crime get to see sentences being passed, but it’s not always enough to help them move on with their lives.

‘We know that around 85 per cent of victims who participated in restorative justice conferences were satisfied with the experience.

‘That’s why I want restorative justice to become something that victims feel comfortable and confident requesting at any stage of the criminal justice system. Victims deserve access to a high standard of restorative justice no matter where they are in the country and at a time that’s right for them.

‘Our action plan, published today, as well as new legislation that is currently before Parliament to allow for pre-sentence restorative justice, commits us to making this a reality.’

Victim Support Chief Executive, Javed Khan said:

‘As the leading charity for victims of crime, we welcome the Government’s new action plan for restorative justice, particularly its commitment to focus on victims’ needs.

‘Victims can benefit enormously from the chance to explain the impact of crime and seek an apology from the offender. A restorative option for the victims who want it at any stage is vital.  But we would echo the need to raise awareness of restorative justice and its potential benefits to increase confidence in victims, so they can access it where appropriate.

‘Contact with victims needs to be sensitive and consistent and their expectations need to be managed effectively.’

A recent inspectorate report claimed there was a need for greater consistency in the use of restorative justice across all areas of the criminal justice system and that there is ‘varying in quality’ across the youth and adult justice system. This plan aims to address those weaknesses.

Notes to editors:

  1. Read the new action plan

  2. The Government recently tabled amendments to the Crime and Courts Bill which will give judges explicit powers to defer sentencing to allow restorative justice to take place between a victim and the offender. These provisions will help to ensure that restorative justice is accessible at every stage of the criminal justice process, from initial arrest, through to and after sentencing.
  3. The Ministry of Justice commissioned an evaluation of three pilot restorative justice schemes, which used a mix of conferencing, mediation and indirect mediation methods. This research suggests that restorative justice has the potential to be associated with high levels of victim satisfaction.This is particularly so for the conferencing method of restorative justice, which was associated with 85% overall victim satisfaction. The Ministry of Justice research also suggests that restorative justice conferencing has the potential to be associated with a reduction in the frequency of re-offending of 14%.

  4. A recent inspectorate report ‘Facing Up To Offending: Use of Restorative Justice in the criminal justice system’ said that there was a need for greater consistency in the use of restorative justice across all areas of the criminal justice system.
  5. Restorative justice allows the victim to be heard and have a say in the resolution of the offence. It also makes offenders face the consequences of their actions.  Restorative justice can be facilitated in a number of ways including:

A structured face to face meeting, involving a facilitator, the offender and victim and their 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 (e.g. some sort of reparation)

Contact between victim and offender, involving a mediator/facilitator, and which involves discussion of the offending.  This contact might result in an agreement for further steps to be taken (e.g. some sort of reparation) but this is not a necessary outcome;

A community conference, involving members of the community which have been affected by a particular crime.  This is facilitated in the same way as the others.  But it differs in that it can involve many people. 6. International Restorative Justice Week takes place on 18-25 November with Restorative Justice related events happening across the world. 7. For more information please call the Ministry of Justice press office on 020333 43536. Follow us on twitter @MoJPress and #RestorativeJustice

Published 20 November 2012