Why me?’s Restorative Justice Manifesto

Published: Thursday, March 14th, 2024


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

 

Why me? are excited to release our Restorative Justice manifesto, outlining the three key steps that need to be taken to ensure that people affected by crime can access Restorative Justice.

At the moment, people affected by crime do not have access to the resources they need to heal and move on. This needs to change. 

Many victims of crime are left feeling retraumatised by the criminal justice process and that they haven’t had a chance to have their say. People who have committed crimes are often put in prison with no form of rehabilitation, a dead-end solution that prevents them from making positive change. By giving people affected by crime the chance to have a voice, explain the impact of the crime, and get the answers they need, they are able to move on and lead positive and productive lives. This can be done through Restorative Justice. 

We are urging politicians from the major political parties to include these three asks in their own manifestos. We hope, through a united effort, to widen access to Restorative Justice by getting it on the agenda of decision makers. With the general election approaching, we are at a crucial point to push forward with these demands and ensure that the needs of people affected by crime are at the heart of policy solutions.

 

1) A National Restorative Justice Action Plan

We are urging decision makers to put in place another National Action Plan on Restorative Justice to replace the one that expired in 2018. Having spent over 5 years with no national leadership on this issue, people affected by crime face a postcode lottery when accessing Restorative Justice, which differs greatly across the country. When consulting with the restorative sector, the overwhelming response was that one of the most notable barriers to access was inconsistency. This inconsistency across areas covered data collection, funding, referral numbers, blanket bans and support from decision makers. A National Action Plan would change this, meaning that regardless of the area they live in, people affected by crime could have equal access to the resources they need.

 

The right to be referred to a Restorative Justice service

At present, victims of crime have the right to information about Restorative Justice under the Victims’ Code of Practice, but we know that this is simply not working. With over 90% of victims not being told about RJ, this right needs to be improved. The Victims and Prisoners Bill currently going through Parliament is a prime opportunity to strengthen victims’ rights, enshrining them in primary legislation to ensure greater accountability. 

However, the right to information on its own is not enough, and can be used as a tick box exercise by people in a position to refer. Instead, victims should have the right to a referral to a Restorative Justice service. This means that everyone affected by crime could speak to an expert about their options for recovery and whether RJ would be suitable for them.

 

National information and awareness campaign

We know that Restorative justice can be transformative, and the stories of our ambassadors attest to that. However, at the moment, people just don’t know that it exists. We need a large and sustained communications campaign to help build public awareness of their entitlements and how Restorative Justice could support them. We also need to target criminal justice professionals who are in a position to make referrals. If they understand the power of Restorative Justice, and have accurate information on how it works and who it is for, countless more victims of crime will be given access to it. 

We urge you to share this manifesto to help spread the word about what needs to happen to make sure people affected by crime can access the support they need. If you have contact with anyone who may be working on an upcoming election manifesto, do pass on the document and urge them to consider Restorative Justice. With clear goals, we can ensure we are all pulling in the same direction to make most effective progress. 

Read the manifesto

 

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