A report from MPs stating the need for high-quality restorative justice services for victims of crime has been welcomed by Sussex’s Police and Crime Commissioner.
The House of Commons Justice Select Committee has argued that a legislative right to access restorative justice (RJ) services is a ‘laudable goal which should be worked towards’.
The report found that public awareness of RJ was relatively low, but 80 per cent of those questioned thought that victims should have the right to meet their offender.
The committee also concluded that access to RJ services is a ‘postcode lottery’.
Sussex already has three RJ hubs located in police stations at Bexhill, Brighton, and Bognor Regis, with 26 organisations making up the Sussex Restorative Justice Partnership.
Mrs Bourne said: “If delivered in the right way, restorative justice can have a significant effect on improving victim confidence in the criminal justice system and reducing re-offending.”
She added: “In Sussex, victims that have been through an RJ process have experienced a 100 per cent satisfaction rate and a Home Office control study showed health benefits to victim participants including reducing post-traumatic stress disorder.
“Victims of crime have told me that the opportunity to meet with their offender is incredibly therapeutic as the criminal justice system is focussed on punishment and they often felt forgotten in the process.
“I welcome further discussion and consultation with the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and my PCC colleagues, particularly regarding sharing best practice.
“I am also pleased that the Justice Select Committee report recommends that the MoJ consults PCCs to ensure there is sufficient capacity to feasibly introduce an entitlement to RJ under the Victims’ Code as many PCCs have demonstrated they have the capability to ensure victims have access to RJ services of the highest standard.”
Bob Neill, chair of the Justice Select Committee, said: “The priority must be to ensure that victims of crime are properly informed. The Ministry of Justice should focus its resources on ensuring restorative justice is well understood by bodies within the criminal justice system who can then convey this information to victims.
“A rigorous system should be introduced to improve compliance with the police’s requirement to inform victims – perhaps something as straightforward as a box at the end of the victim impact statement form.”
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