Violent Offenders? Let’s keep focused on victims
Why me? have been busy over the past few days responding to the story that has hit the headlines about the increasing number of violent crimes that are dealt with out of court by means of “community resolutions”.
Many news organisations reported the answer to a question asked by the shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper MP which showed that up to 10,000 instances of violence were dealt with by the police without the matter ever resulting in a prosecution or a caution.
Because “community resolutions” often result in an apology or the payment of compensation to the victim, many people seem to be confusing this with proper Restorative Justice. Restorative Justice is a situation where a person who has admitted causing harm sits down in a meeting with the person – or people – who have been harmed. This meeting is “facilitated” by a trained person who encourages those taking part to talk about what happened and to come to an agreement about what happens next. The meeting can happen pre or post conviction – or indeed without a conviction ever happening.
The view of Why me? is that community resolutions – something used increasingly by the police – are not the same thing as Restorative Justice. However, it is unfair to conclude that in some way the police are using them for violent offences as a soft and easy option in a rush to get quick disposals and cut paperwork. It is unlikely that any of these community resolutions would have come about had the victim not been happy to proceed in this way.
This brings us back to the focus of Why me? – and that is about what victims themselves want. Eighty five per cent of victims who have participated in Restorative Justice are satisfied with it. This contrasts with victim satisfaction rates with court procedures which hover around the thirty per cent mark. It’s possible – we suspect probable – that community resolutions (an alternative to court) are being welcomed by the victims involved.
Here’s our chairman, Will Riley, on the Victoria Derbyshire programme on Radio 5 http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01s38rf