Restorative Justice: a good news story

Published: Tuesday, January 7th, 2020

A blog by Lucy Jaffé, Director of Why me?

Let’s not get bogged down in bad news when Restorative Justice is such a good news story. When looking back at the last decade, I have reflected on the huge human potential which has been released through people being given a voice and an opportunity to reflect and recover. It has been a privilege to work alongside people like Ann-Marie Pearson, Rob Hall and Lucy Fry, who have shared their experience of Restorative Justice and the peace of mind and strength it can bring.

Across the country, there are outstanding examples of high quality regional restorative services and we have worked closely with a number of Police and Crime Commissioners, prisons, probation and police to develop practice, highlight stories and support their work.

I continue to be concerned about the low numbers of victims with a known offender who recall being offered Restorative Justice – 4.8% in 2019 – when this is a clear entitlement in the Victim Code of Practice. This is particularly stark for people who suffer from hate crimes, a group which has significantly increased since the 2016 referendum. Under-reported and under-prosecuted, our work with 3 regional services and many equality and community groups has revealed that victims of hate are routinely sidelined and are not being given the opportunity to choose Restorative Justice, or in fact, are often not accessing any form of justice. Why me? have sought to address this through the production of two reports on hate crime and through ongoing casework referred to us by LGBT+ specialists GALOP. The work has attracted international interest from Europe and Canada and we will be working with a further 5 Police and Crime Commissioner areas over the next year to develop this. 

Restorative Justice also has a beneficial impact on people who commit crime, who often do not realise the extent of the harm they have caused. Engagement in the process helps them to reflect, take responsibility and understand the impact of their actions. In fact, many victims simply want the crime to stop and their voices to be heard. If Restorative Justice is a means of achieving that then we are really on to a winner. With a new Victim Law in the offing, we will be keeping a close eye on its progress through Parliament and the entitlements to Restorative Justice.

A highly recommended read is Marian Partington’s book, If you sit very still, in which she talks about melting delusions of a ‘better past’, and healing herself by talking and writing about her experience. This truly inspirational story highlights the value in providing alternatives and additions to the adversarial justice system, which really address what victims want. 

I look forward to collaborating with you in the months ahead to ensure that Restorative Justice is used as widely as possible, enabling many many more people to find their voices and make this world a better place to live in.

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