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Plan to give more victims a voice

November 20, 2012, 5:47 pm

The Governments plan for a rapid expansion of restorative justice – where victims of crime are given the opportunity to confront their offender – was boosted today with the publication of a new nationwide action plan for the criminal justice system to coincide with International Restorative Justice Week.

The ‘Restorative Justice Action Plan for the Criminal Justice System’ is designed to increase awareness of restorative justice and enable more victims across the country to access a high quality service.

The plan sets out a series of priorities that will embed restorative justice into the criminal justice system as well as make it more consistent and widely used across England and Wales. This builds on the Governments amendments to the Crime and Courts Bill to give judges explicit powers to defer sentencing to allow for restorative justice to take place.

The action plan is aimed at:

  • increasing the number of trained professionals who deliver restorative justice and ultimately help more victims
  • improving awareness among victims of the availability of restorative justice

This will enable victims of crime to:

  • easily locate a well trained restorative justice practitioner in their local area through an online resource
  • access restorative justice at a time thats right for them
  • know that all practitioners within the criminal justice system are working to consistent standards
  • be confident that their restorative justice experience has been recorded appropriately by a trained restorative justice facilitator who is aware of what to monitor

Justice Minister Jeremy Wright said:

‘Many victims of crime get to see sentences being passed, but its not always enough to help them move on with their lives.

‘We know that around 85 per cent of victims who participated in restorative justice conferences were satisfied with the experience.

‘Thats why I want restorative justice to become something that victims feel comfortable and confident requesting at any stage of the criminal justice system. Victims deserve access to a high standard of restorative justice no matter where they are in the country and at a time thats right for them.

‘Our action plan, published today, as well as new legislation that is currently before Parliament to allow for pre-sentence restorative justice, commits us to making this a reality.’

Victim Support Chief Executive, Javed Khan said:

‘As the leading charity for victims of crime, we welcome the Governments new action plan for restorative justice, particularly its commitment to focus on victims needs.

‘Victims can benefit enormously from the chance to explain the impact of crime and seek an apology from the offender. A restorative option for the victims who want it at any stage is vital.  But we would echo the need to raise awareness of restorative justice and its potential benefits to increase confidence in victims, so they can access it where appropriate.

‘Contact with victims needs to be sensitive and consistent and their expectations need to be managed effectively.’

A recent inspectorate report claimed there was a need for greater consistency in the use of restorative justice across all areas of the criminal justice system and that there is ‘varying in quality’ across the youth and adult justice system. This plan aims to address those weaknesses.

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