Restorative justice services
The Victims’ Code states that victims have a right to be informed about and take part in restorative justice after experiencing a crime. Restorative justice brings together victims harmed by crime and those responsible for that harm, to find a positive way forward. It gives victims the chance to have their say, to get answers to their questions, and to move on with their lives, and gives offenders the opportunity to look at their behaviour and the impact it has had on the victim’s life.
According to the Office for National Statistics, the percentage of victims who were offered a meeting increased from 4.8% in 2018-19 to 5.5% in 2019-20 (having decreased from 7.5% in 2017-18). Twenty-six per cent of victims said they would have accepted an opportunity to meet with the offender if offered.
Government research has shown that 85% of victims were satisfied with the restorative justice they were involved with. The research also concluded that restorative justice can reduce the frequency of reoffending by up to 27%.
How does restorative justice work?
- The offender must accept responsibility for the harm caused.
- The victim and offender must both be willing to participate.
- Restorative justice can only take place if a trained facilitator decides that it would be safe and suitable.
- The facilitator will speak to the victim and offender to discuss what has happened and carefully prepare them for a meeting, often called a conference.
- In the meeting, everyone will get to have their say and can agree actions to address the harm.
- In appropriate cases the victim and offender can invite agreed supporters to come with them.
- In some cases a meeting may not be suitable, but the process may be undertaken by another form of communication.