re:hub launches new Restorative Justice policy framework

Published: Friday, February 10th, 2023


This week re:hub, His Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service’s restorative hub, published a policy framework on Restorative practice.

The framework lays out the professional responsibilities of offender managers, probation practitioners, and victim liaison officers (VLOs) in the ‘referral and suitability assessment process’ for Restorative Justice services.

It also provides wider guidance on using Restorative practice with people on probation or in prison, as well as with victims.

Why me? welcomes the publication of the policy framework. Statutory publications on Restorative Justice like this help to cement the use of Restorative Justice for people affected by crime.

However, the framework raises some concerns that we would welcome additional clarification or development on from HMPPS and re:hub:

  1. Under the new framework, Victim Liaison Officers are not required to inform victims about Restorative Justice. This contradicts victims’ rights under the Victims’ Code of Practice, which places a duty on statutory agencies to inform victims about Restorative Justice and about how to access it. VLOs can only explore Restorative Justice if the victim broaches the subject. Evidence shows that victim awareness of Restorative Justice is very low, so how will a victim know to ask?
  2. It would be useful if the framework provided an outline of the resources and training that will be made available to those who will be responsible for making the offer of Restorative Justice to potential participants. We know that Restorative Justice facilitators are better placed to explain Restorative Justice because of their extensive knowledge about the process and ability to answer questions when the offer is first made. If non-trained people are making the offer, this may impact take up of Restorative Justice.
  3. There is a concern that this framework will drastically increase the number of cases that will need to be processed by re:hub and cause additional delays in cases progressing. Why me? has been consistently informed by Local Police and Crime Commissioner Restorative Justice services that there are delays in information and blockages in accessing prisoners. It is unclear how this framework will address these issues.
  4. Whilst the framework places time constraints on individual prison and probation staff, there are none on cases being worked on by re:hub or the approval panel. It is important that people are given timely and up-to-date information about progress on cases as it can be damaging if they are for too long and time-wasting for the service supporting them.
  5. With any Restorative Justice intervention, it is important to work in a safety-based approach that considers the needs of the both parties, but the framework introduces suitability criteria that prioritises the offence type over the harmed person’s needs. This could impact the local provider’s ability to assess suitability with the relevant HMPPS Offender Manager.
  6. The framework would benefit from additional clarity about the membership of the Restorative Justice Approval Board within HMPPS. 

Why me? will continue to work with re:hub and HMPPS to improve policy surrounding Restorative Justice. It is important to us that we hear your views in order to inform our approach. If you would like to discuss the framework outcome please email meka.beresford@why-me.org.

Make sure to sign up for our upcoming Restorative Justice Forum where we will discuss the framework in addition to a discussion on how Restorative Justice can be most effectively communicated to decision makers and professionals who will be in contact with people affected by crime. There will be a particular focus on the barriers faced by survivors of domestic abuse in accessing Restorative Justice and how we can overcome them.

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