Transforming Lives in 2023 

Published: Thursday, January 12th, 2023

This is a blog by our Director Lucy Jaffé.

On a Thursday evening last year, I was cycling home when two men came up behind me on a moped and attempted to steal my bike. My screaming alerted dog walkers who scared them away. I kept my bike, but I was also left with physical and emotional scars that serve as a daily reminder of what happened.  

I had so many questions after this happened. I knew I wanted to be offered Restorative Justice, and told the police I would be interested if they caught the men. It was heartening that the officers were aware of Restorative Justice. However, they did not inform me about it, as is their duty under the Victim’s Code of Practice. The local victim support service did not tell me about Restorative Justice either and I had to inform them about the local Restorative Justice service (using our trusty map of services). Like many people with lived experience of Restorative Justice, I felt my primary need was to be informed about my options and to get my questions answered – I needed more than a cup of sympathetic tea.  

I am sharing this story because it makes me angry and hopeful in equal measure. 

Angry because my experience is borne out by the British Crime Survey, which shows that after 11 years of the Code being policy, less than 7% of victims with a known offender are informed about it. I am exasperated by frontline victim services not being the first to understand and make referrals. 

However, I am hopeful because we have a ‘once-in-a-generation’ Victim Bill in draft legislation and a Government commitment to enact it this year. This great opportunity to put the entitlement to Restorative Justice in law cannot be missed. Our support for the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Restorative Justice and other organisations will make this more likely.

Why me? will continue to champion the voices of people who experience crime, and to shine a light on the most marginalised groups, such as LGBTQ+ people subject to hate crime, and people who speak English as an Additional Language. It is essential all victims’ needs are met, whoever you are, where you live, or the nature of the crime.. 

Substantial delays to the appointment of a National Victims’ Commissioner, following the resignation of Dame Vera Baird, are concerning at this pivotal moment for victim rights. Why me? will continue our many years of working to support the Office of the Victims’ Commissioner on Restorative Justice matters and will ensure that the new appointee is fully briefed.

There are opportunities presented by last year’s Policing, Crime, Sentencing, and Courts Act to embed Restorative Justice in the new adult Out of Court Disposal framework, as well as developing a Restorative Justice retail crime model, based on our work in Torquay this winter, which we would like to become more widely used across England and Wales in the coming months.

My personal insight into the experience of being attacked reinforced my commitment to work alongside people who experience crime and conflict to ensure that everyone has information about and access to Restorative Justice.

While the men who attempted to take my bike were never found, and I did not have the opportunity to take part in Restorative Justice, I have not let this experience deter me from riding my bike – albeit with a different worldview for evermore.

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