How easily can people find out about Restorative Justice online?
By Georgina Kirk – Intern at Why me?
Earlier this year Why me? looked at how well different police areas are promoting Restorative Justice. Here is a summary of our work on this project. I am an intern at Why me? who attempted to find information about Restorative Justice on the websites of all 42 police areas, from the perspective of a victim of crime. We then distributed reports to each area, highlighting areas to improve under seven criteria, such as ‘Was it easy it to find information about Restorative Justice?’ ‘Was there an explanation about Restorative Justice?’ and ‘Were there case study examples?’.
Police and Crime Commissioners have a responsibility to provide Restorative Justice services for those affected by crime who are interested in accessing them. Some areas gave clear information about how to access Restorative Justice on their websites, but for others it was less clear.
A problem for some areas was locating the contact details for the PCC’s Restorative Justice service. Multiple ‘victim services’ were often signposted without a clear explanation of what was offered by each service. When clear details about each service were given, including how it can help and where it is located, it was much easier to appreciate which service should be contacted for Restorative Justice.
Some areas also provide numerous phone numbers for victims of crime to contact for support, and it is not always clear which number was for which purpose. Displaying one number at the top of the homepage is the clearest solution, or where this is not possible, giving ‘contact’ pages where phone numbers, emails and addresses are clearly labelled and defined without jargon or acronyms.
Another problem was the availability of an office address for the Restorative Justice service. In areas which work with organisations such as Victim Support, finding Restorative Justice services specific to a geographical location is more difficult when the website for that police area doesn’t provide the details needed to access those services. For instance, if a page only gives a link to the general Victim Support website, it is not easy for someone to find the contact details for their local service from that site. Remedi has a helpful page which has contact details and addresses for offices in all the police areas it works with, which is helpful. But in most other cases I had to find this localised information myself, which took time, and would have been confusing for people who didn’t understand the system.
Victims of crime are often overloaded with different services and information, and can be emotionally vulnerable. We want their experience of accessing restorative services to be as straightforward as possible. Providing clear information about who to contact about Restorative Justice ensures that more people affected by crime are able to consider this option. We hope that police and restorative teams across the country will ensure that this information is as clear as possible on their websites.