General Election 2024: What does this mean for Restorative Justice?

Published: Friday, May 24th, 2024

This is a blog by our Communications and Campaigns Manager, Keeva Baxter. 


Update: The Victims and Prisoners Bill was granted Royal Assent on 24th May has therefore become the Victims and Prisoners Act 2024More information can be found here.


This week, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak requested that the current Parliament be dissolved on the 30th of May and called for a General Election. After the King granted his request, Sunak announced that the General Election was scheduled for the 4th of July. As a result, political parties will now be preparing their manifestos, beginning their campaigns and sharing their priorities. With a campaign timescale that is much shorter than many expected, it is crucial that we act now to ensure that the people representing our interests are taking the issues that we care about seriously. 

It was also announced yesterday that Parliament will aim to get the Victims and Prisoners Bill rushed through in advance of the General Election. This means that any final amendments to the Bill will be debated and the Bill is likely to be passed. Whilst the Victims and Prisoners Bill is an important piece of legislation that protects many rights for victims of crime, the lack of mention of Restorative Justice is a missed opportunity. The current Government’s refusal to legislate access to Restorative Justice means that it is left in secondary legislation (the Victims’ Code of Practice) and on a weaker footing.  Now, more than ever, we need to make sure that policy-makers see the power of Restorative Justice and reflect this in their manifestos. 

The rushing of the Bill through Parliament means that, despite extensive campaigning from the restorative sector and beyond, Restorative Justice will not be recognised in law. Evidence has shown that the current inclusion of Restorative Justice as a right under the Victims’ Code is not enough to ensure that people get access to the resources they need. This is a missed opportunity to strengthen the rights of people affected by crime.

Nevertheless, we look forward to working with a new Government and with the Ministry of Justice to ensure that all opportunities to strengthen compliance with the Code and increase access to Restorative Justice are taken, and that the voices of people most affected by crime are at the centre. Why me? will be continuing our campaigns to get this transformative tool into new legislation. – Sara Dowling, CEO, Why me?

With this election comes the possibility of change which will impact the entire criminal justice sector. It is clear that something needs to be done about the current overcrowding crisis, damage to victim wellbeing and reoffending perpetuated by a lack of support and rehabilitation. In order to address these issues, Restorative Justice needs to be made more widely available to people affected by crime. By taking part in Restorative Justice, victims of crime can get the answers they need to begin their recovery, and people who have committed crime can provide closure and make amends for the harm they’ve caused. 

Unless Restorative Justice becomes widely available, replacing a punitive approach with a focus on rehabilitation, the Criminal Justice System will not escape this spiral into overcrowding and perpetual harm to everyone involved. 

What can you do?

Why me? is an independent charity and we do not give our support to any political party. However, we encourage all parties to include Restorative Justice in their manifestos and take the needs of people affected by crime seriously. We encourage you to write to your local MPs, explaining how important Restorative Justice is to you and the benefit of including it in their election manifesto. Below we have included a sample letter – you’re welcome to use or adjust it as you see fit. Including any first-hand examples of the benefits you have seen will make your message more powerful. You can look up your MP and their contact details here

Dear [Name of MP],

I am a constituent in your local area of [area]. Following the announcement of the upcoming General Election, I wanted to write to you to share a matter that is extremely important to me and my community. Restorative Justice is a crucial tool in reducing reoffending, helping victims to recover and repairing the harm caused by crime. But, currently, most people don’t know that it exists. This needs to change. 

At present, many people who commit crime become trapped in a spiral of offending behaviour with no way out. Victims of crime are left traumatised in a justice system that only makes the harm worse. But, when given access to Restorative Justice, everyone involved can see a way out, giving them a chance to recover and heal. 

I urge you to include specific reference to Restorative Justice in your manifesto, showing your constituents how much you value the welfare of victims of crime and your commitment to creating safer, more productive communities. By pledging to widen access to this essential resource, you allow people to explore their options with a trained expert who will determine whether it is safe and right for them. 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Yours sincerely, 

[your name]


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