The low uptake of Restorative Justice allows service providers to offer a ‘bespoke’ service for victims, the Victims’ Commissioner has found in her report today.
The Victims’ Commissioner’s report ‘A question of quality: A review of Restorative Justice Part 1 – Service Providers’ found that the number of victims who take part in Restorative Justice (RJ) is low, compared to the number of individuals who become victims of crime. However, this has enabled Restorative Justice service providers to address their needs, and tailor services accordingly, of those victims who decide to take part. This is the first of a two-part review into the quality of Restorative Justice services for victims.
RJ activities enable the victim and the offender to communicate – whether face-to-face or by other means – to discuss the crime and the harm caused in order to find a positive way forward. Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) are responsible for delivering some RJ services, as part of their commitment to deliver local victims’ services.
The Victims’ Commissioner, Baroness Newlove, recognised that the tailoring of RJ services to meet the needs of the victim and the offender demonstrated a good quality service; but she also raised concerns about whether RJ could be made more accessible and if this level of quality could be provided to all those who wanted to participate.
Baroness Newlove said:
“I want to see victims’ services in place to support victims of crime and aid their recovery, which is why the provision and quality of Restorative Justice services should be consistent and open to all victims, regardless of the nature of the crime.
“Police and Crime Commissioners should be receptive to the needs of victims, to achieve the best possible outcome. However, I would like to see this good quality RJ practice continue if more victims decide to participate.”
The report also found:
- some PCC areas excluded some victims of certain crime types from participating in RJ, for example victims of domestic abuse, hate crime and sexual abuse/violence;
- the majority of PCC areas only provided RJ services once an offender had been convicted; and,
- trained RJ facilitators, who were responsive to the needs of the victim and the offender, were vital in the provision of good quality RJ.
This is the second review on RJ conducted by the Victims’ Commissioner. The first review in 2014 found that too much emphasis was placed on the needs of the offender, and that the needs of victims should also be considered. In the current climate, the availability and quality of RJ services continues to vary for victims across the country. As a result, it is not possible to say if RJ is now more focussed on the needs of victims, compared to the position in 2014.
The second part of this RJ review will consider victims’ experiences of RJ services and will be published later this year. It will provide a comparison between the actual experience for victims against the perspective of the practitioners and service providers.