What do the party manifestos say about victims and Restorative Justice?
As expected, the General Election campaign has been dominated by Brexit. Crime has featured as well, but the discussion has focused primarily on how to reduce crime and punish offenders. Very little has been said about people affected by crime, and even less about Restorative Justice.
Restorative Justice can relieve victims of crime from the pain which they carry with them after the incident. And it can unlock the potential of those who have committed crime to change their behavior. This common sense solution to resolving the impact of crime should be taken on board by politicians of all political persuasions. It just makes sense.
We trawled through the parties’ manifestos (someone has to read them) to see what their offer is to victims of crime, and if they mention the power of Restorative Justice.
The Conservative manifesto includes a promise to pass and implement a “Victims’ Law that guarantees victims’ rights and the level of support they can expect.”
This sounds positive in theory, but the devil will be in the detail. What is the level of support they can expect? How will they be informed about it? And will an entitlement to Restorative Justice be included?
There is no mention of Restorative Justice in the manifesto. It does claim that the Conservatives will “protect people from physical attack or harassment”, “make the UK the safest place in the world to be online” and “continue to fight crime against women and girls.” How they will do this is not explained though.
The Labour manifesto includes a promise to “introduce minimum legal standards of service for all victims of crime.” Again, this sounds positive in theory – but no further detail is given about what these minimum standards will be. There is no mention of Restorative Justice either.
Labour also claim that they will “work with police and crime commissioners to reform police funding and share new resources fairly, and to ensure that local needs are met.” This could potentially affect the support which victims receive as well.
The Liberal Democrat manifesto does mention Restorative Justice. They pledge to “increase the use of tough community sentences and Restorative Justice where appropriate.”
It is encouraging that the Lib Dems want to increase the use of Restorative Justice, but we want to know what the circumstances are which make it appropriate in their eyes?
This pledge is under the heading “Reducing Reoffending”, and is in the context of reducing the number of people unnecessarily in prison. This suggests that Restorative Justice would be seen as a tool for tackling minor crime, and makes no mention of whether victims would be entitled to access it regardless of the offence.
The Green Party manifesto also mentions Restorative Justice. They say that they will “expand Restorative Justice when crimes do take place, both to give victims a voice and to help offenders see the effects of what they have done and take responsibility.”
This is the most positive message about Restorative Justice in any of the party manifestos. It is encouraging that the Green Party wants to expand Restorative Justice, and that they acknowledge the benefits for victims of crime as well as offenders.
However, they do not clarify whether victims of crime would be allowed to access Restorative Justice as part of any binding entitlement for people affected by crime.
The Brexit Party manifesto does not mention Restorative Justice or victims of crime