Merseyside PCC chooses Restorative Solutions CIC to raise awareness of restorative justicFriday 24th July 2015
Victims of crime will now have greater opportunity to get answers from offenders thanks to a new partnership between Merseyside’s Police Commissioner and two leading restorative justice organisations.
Jane Kennedy has been looking for a partner to help her raise awareness of restorative justice and increase its use in the region, ensuring victims in Merseyside have the chance to come face-to-face with offenders and make them realise the impact of their actions.
Following a rigorous tendering exercise, a combined proposal from Merseyside’s Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC)and a not-for-profit community interest company Restorative Solutions was chosen and those two organisations will now lead on Jane’s plans for victim-led restorative justice schemes across the whole of Merseyside.
Restorative justice brings victims and offenders together to tell one another their account of an incident with the aim of putting victims back in control and presenting offenders with the consequences of their actions.
Jane said: “I am keen to support any measure that allows the voice of victims to be heard and helps those affected by crime to reach a sense of closure that sometimes cannot be found in sentencing alone. Restorative justice approaches are just one of the ways we can do that.
“Restorative justice gives victims a voice and the opportunity to get answers. Giving victims the chance to come face-to-face with those who have committed crimes against them can be really empowering and help people who have been affected by crime to find a positive way forward.
“Merseyside CRC and Restorative Solutions have a successful track record of working with victims, offenders and criminal justice partners, as well as an extensive experience of delivering restorative justice. They lead on restorative justice in many of our neighbouring areas and they have demonstrated considerable skill when working on existing restorative justice schemes in Merseyside and on initiatives with my office in the past.
“By working in partnership with these two organisations I can ensure restorative justice schemes are available to people across Merseyside, no matter where they live, bringing to an end the existing postcode lottery of services.”
Restorative justice should always be voluntary and only take place after both the victim and offender agree and a trained facilitator has assessed the case as suitable. This means a lot of careful preparatory work is required before a victim and offender meet. Victims also offer the opportunity to withdraw at any point.
Merseyside CRC and Restorative Solutions will work now closely with Merseyside Police and all the Commissioner’s criminal justice partners to generate greater awareness and use of restorative justice and deliver an effective and consistent service across the entire region.
The nine-month contract focuses on four key aims; increasing access; working with criminal justice partners to increase the number of restorative justice referrals; improving awareness and understanding of restorative justice and its benefits and delivering a high quality service focussed on the needs of victim and delivered by a trained facilitator.
Through this pilot, restorative justice will be available at all stages of the criminal justice process, including pre-conviction and even in cases where a victim has not reported an offence to the police.
Merseyside CRC’s CEO Annette Hennessy said she was delighted to announce the news and that the CRC were honoured to be able to offer this new service.
Chief Executive of Restorative Solutions, Gary Stephenson, said: “Our joint approach will ensure that victims will be given the opportunity to have their say and get answers to the questions they are left with after being the victim of a crime.
“We know that Restorative Justice helps victims and others affected by the crime to find closure and move on with their lives. We also know from rigorous academic studies that following a restorative justice meeting offenders are motivated to change their lives for the better and this means less crime and fewer victims in Merseyside. Our partnership with Merseyside Community Rehabilitation Company will ensure that Restorative Justice will be delivered in a safe environment to a very high professional standard by skilled accredited practitioners.”
This funding follows on from a previous initiative when the Commissioner worked with the two organisations to deliver specialist restorative justice training to specific teams within Merseyside Police. This training aimed to equip PCSOs with greater knowledge and understanding of restorative justice to enable them to identify the cases where a victim would benefit from participating to help them cope and recover.
The nine-month contract has been funded through the Ministry of Justice’s Victims’ Services and Restorative Justice grant for 2015/16. Organisations were invited to apply for the service through the Blue Light portal, an E-Tendering solution for all Emergency Services.