Join Lucy Fry in getting Restorative Justice rights in law
This is an interview with our ambassador Lucy Fry who was only offered Restorative Justice nine years after having been a victim of crime. We asked her about her thoughts on including Restorative Justice in the Victims’ Bill.
The Victims’ Bill is a draft piece of legislation that will enshrine victims’ rights into law. The Government has launched a consultation to gather the views of the public on what should be included in the law. The Victims’ Bill is a huge opportunity to improve victims’ experiences of the Criminal Justice System. There is no mention of Restorative Justice in the Victims’ Bill Consultation, but, as such a powerful resource that can transform the lives of victims, it should be included in a future Law.
What do you think a victim’s right to Restorative Justice should be in a Victim Law?
Personally I think that all victims should have the right to Restorative Justice from right at the beginning of the process, all the way through to years later. For me, the words “Restorative Justice” mean closure and freedom. It gives people who are deeply traumatized a chance to get their questions answered and their voices heard, so it is unfortunate that many victims are not aware that it is an option. It shouldn’t have to be a postcode lottery or dependent on your crime as to whether people can access Restorative Justice. The right should be for all victims to have access to Restorative Justice at all points that they wish.
When do you think information about Restorative Justice should be made available to people affected by crime?
It should be made available at the first instance that there is contact with any service, whether that be the police or victim liaison etc. It should be presented immediately but not pushed. Immediately after the crime has happened, people may be grieving and all sorts of emotions may be in there. It should be made clear that it is a choice and that it can be done at any stage, they don’t have to do it now. We need a slow, drip fed approach.
Who should be responsible for making it available?
It shouldn’t just be the police’s responsibility to decide whether they want to inform victims or not, it should be known across the board that this is a service that victims are entitled to. People should be told about Restorative Justice at every available opportunity, by every professional that comes into contact with victims because they are there to support them. I don’t see where there is any room for people not to understand.
You should start at the top, with the Government, so it can filter its way back down. It should be in the Victims’ Bill. If it is in the Victims’ Bill then it will have to be given to us.
What is the best way for people to be referred to Restorative Justice services and when?
Restorative Justice wasn’t mentioned to me until nine years after the crime was committed when I knew that I had to do something and contacted my Victim Liaison Officer. If Restorative Justice was more widely known about, word of mouth means that it won’t take long for victims to be aware and know that it is out there.
How do you think public agencies and politicians can be held to account for making it happen?
Having to report your findings and proper reporting of data is a big one for me. The buck has got to stop with somebody, someone needs to be held accountable which doesn’t work if it is just the whole Government who is accountable.
I wasn’t made aware of Restorative Justice as a service for nine years, I just knew I needed closure. I know that I wouldn’t be here today if I had not had my restorative meeting.
Respond to the Victims’ Bill Consultation and urge the Government to include Restorative Justice in the new law. The deadline is the 3rd of February.