Valuing Victims 2023: Restorative Justice needs a national reporting framework
This is a blog written by our Campaigns and Communications Manager Meka Beresford.
Why me? has published its eighth annual report in the Valuing Victims series. Each year, Why me? requests the data supplied to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) by the 42 police areas in England and Wales via a Freedom of Information request in order to review the financial investment into Restorative Justice and the impact this has had on victims.
Although the Ministry of Justice provides a reporting template to monitor Police and Crime Commissioners’ delivery of overall victim services, including returns for Restorative Justice, our report this year has drawn many of the same conclusions:
- Data entries are incomplete, with values missing from several areas.
- The quality of the data is unreliable. The data is not subject to quality assurance processes that would be applied to formally published Ministry of Justice statistics, and there are considerable variations between areas.
- There is very little data that is collected and so we have a limited understanding of the impact of Restorative Justice.
In the last year, Why me? has continued to work across the sector to develop solutions for improved data collection and sharing. This has included hosting a network of Police and Crime Commissioners’ offices to discuss Restorative Justice and in our capacity as an advisory board member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Restorative Justice. We believe that a National Action Plan on Restorative Justice and a National Reporting Framework would help to improve the reliability of data regarding the provision of Restorative Justice. In turn, this will enable the cost-benefit of Restorative Justice to society to be better understood as demonstrated in our Economic Evaluation research last year.
The report shows that there is a substantial difference in funding for restorative services in different areas, with the lowest reported spending at £6,250 and the highest at £397,412.
The disparity in spending on restorative services means that victims face a postcode lottery when accessing services. This is reflected in the number of victims that are being supported by services.
One area reported only 6 victims supported, compared to another area which reported 1,705 victims supported. This indicates that different PCC areas have different counting rules in regard to support for victims. Some areas may record telephone and/or e-mail contact with victims as support, while in other PCC areas, they may only record direct face-to-face restorative meetings as victims supported. The victim support data requires further breakdown to be meaningful and there should be a focus on redefining this to accurately capture the type of support provided to victims.
You can read the report in full here.
- We recommend that the Ministry of Justice works with the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC) and Police and Crime Commissioners to ensure accurate expenditure reporting on Restorative Justice is provided as a data return for all Police and Crime Commissioner areas for 2023/24.
- We recommend that the Ministry of Justice work with the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC) and Police & Crime Commissioners to redefine and clarify the data return for victims supported by Restorative Justice services for 2023/24.
- We recommend that the Ministry of Justice work with the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC) and Police & Crime Commissioners to redefine the 2023/24 outcome measures within the data set using the above suggestion as a proposal for consultation.
- We recommend that the Ministry of Justice capture data from National Probation Service regions that invest in RJ as an intervention so that impact can be monitored and evaluated.
- Public reporting of the data is recommended. Victims of crime and the wider public should have access to performance information on the local provision of Restorative Justice services.
Why me? fully supports the principle of collecting key national data for Restorative Justice services. However, the data needs to be accurate to allow for any meaningful comparisons to assist the development of Restorative Justice services and deliver accountability, especially to victims of crime and the public. Why me? has identified and reported on this issue over a number of years and, whilst some improvements have taken place, the time is now for grasping this issue and delivering real improvements. Victims of crime deserve better.
If you want to discuss our findings or discuss how to improve data collection in your PCC area, or if you would like a copy of the data we have analysed then please get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org.