The news today includes a focus on the vital issue of restorative justice, as a consequence of the publication of the Restorative Justice inquiry by the Parliamentary Justice Committee. According to the sub heading on the Parliament website “A legislative right for victims of crime to access restorative justice services is a laudable goal which should be worked towards, once existing concerns about capacity have been addressed, says Justice Committee report.” While from twitter as far as the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner is concerned “RJ must always be victim lead PCCs can make this happen @ welcomes today’s Select Committee report”
The decision to authorise the use of police officers time in addressing the concerns of the victims of crime is not an easy one to take and it is encouraging that Katy Bourne is suggesting that she will continue to commit resources to it. This is especially important as the deep cuts to policing constricts their work across the UK as a result of earlier decisions by this Government, decisions which Katy has previously supported. In the short term the cost of spending time with victims and indeed with those who are guilty of crimes to ensure that as “80% of people questioned thought that victims should have the right to meet their offender.” should not be overlooked. This is why, in my opinion the Governments statement above is so mealy mouthed. The long term impact of restorative justice or community resolution as it is referred to in Sussex is a reduction in crime as offenders are much less likely to repeat their actions. This means that in time there should be some reduction in workloads for the service, but that is much easier to write than it is to measure. As the Parliamentary report is published and people like Katy are being interviewed, let us hope that the early pioneers of restorative justice are not forgotten or overlooked. Many of them argued for this approach in a much less positive environment than we have this morning. One of those is a chap called Peter Woolf @peterwoolf57 who has his own story to tell. There are countless others. Another in Sussex is Mary Hinton who has been working in the field of restorative justice for at least a decade. As we focus on the future for those who are victims of crime, it is good to know that this is not a here today, gone tomorrow concept.