Restorative Justice Development Manager Helen Rosenthal
More victims will have a chance to meet offenders and have their say thanks to a £153,000 investment by Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens.
Restorative Justice is a process which allows victims and offenders to meet, talk about how an experience affected each of them and agree how the wrong would be put right. It’s a process which can have a positive impact on all involved; 85% victims leave feeling satisfied and offenders are 14% less likely to reoffend.
The Police and Crime Commissioner’s investment is being used to make restorative justice more widely available to victims across Avon and Somerset. It will create a new service in the Bath, North-East and South Gloucestershire and build on existing services in Bristol, Somerset and North Somerset with availability increasing by up to 75%.
Speaking about the new services, Sue Mountstevens said: “A priority of mine since day one has been to put victims at the heart of the criminal justice system. Restorative justice is vital to my approach; it gives victims a greater voice and allows them to meet the person who harmed them and tell them how it made them feel. It also puts them in the control by allowing them to have a say in how amends are made – it could be writing a letter of apology, repairing damage or doing community work. It can have a positive and powerful impact on victims and offenders and I’m very pleased we’ll be making this more widely available to local communities.”
Restorative justice has a growing reputation for the positive impact it can have for victims. For example, last year in Bristol restorative justice had a 98% satisfaction rate amongst victims with the team being nominated for both regional and national awards. It was also praised by a judge at a sentencing in Bristol last month who stated that the process had a place in the city and highlighted how through the process the victim had his questions answered and was able to forgive his offender.
The expansion of restorative justice will be overseen by Restorative Justice Development Manager Helen Rosenthal. Speaking about the new services, Helen said: “Restorative justice can empower victims and give them a more positive outlook on a bad experience. It’s not suitable in every circumstance and it’s only possible when all parties agree. I’d encourage any victim who thinks it might be for them to speak to the person handling their case and they’ll be able to talk you through it.”
As well as the new restorative justice services, specific new roles have also been created to help develop restorative justice:
- A new facilitator has been appointed for one year to work with prisons across Avon and Somerset to expand the use of restorative justice after an offender has been sentenced. Previously focused on burglary and robbery offences, this will have a renewed focus on victims and be opened to victims of a wider variety of crimes.
- Restorative Justice Coordinators have been appointed to work alongside the Lighthouse Victim and Witness Care teams. The coordinators will champion the use of restorative justice, liaising with the new providers and making sure it is carried out to a high standard.
You can find out out more about the new services by clicking here - including how much is being invested in your area and who will be providing the service.
Funding to help expand restorative justice was announced by the Ministry of Justice in November 2013 and at that time PCC Sue Mountstevens welcomed the move. The money being invested has come from funds provided by the Ministry of Justice and which has been recovered from offenders through the victim surcharge offenders can be ordered to pay at court.
Posted on Friday 5th June 2015