Friday 20th November 2015

Restorative Solutions selected by PCC to deliver RJ services in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight

Police and Crime Commissioner Puts Victims First by Funding Restorative Justice in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight
 
£451,000 has been budgeted for Restorative Justice in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight by Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Hayes. Restorative Justice is an approach to justice that focuses on the needs of the victims and the offenders, as well as the involved community. Victims take an active role in the process, while offenders are encouraged to take responsibility for their actions. For Restorative Justice to take place, the offender must have accepted their guilt, the facts of the case.  All participation is voluntary.
 
Two providers of Restorative Justice have been selected through the commissioning process:
  • Restorative Solutions: covering Portsmouth, South East Hampshire, Southampton and South West Hampshire.
  • Safer North Hampshire: covering North and Mid Hampshire.
Alternative arrangements are being sought to cover the Isle of Wight.
           
In a staggered roll-out between January and April next year, the two providers will start to offer traditional restorative justice for victims of crime in the form of Restorative Justice conferences or face-to-face meetings between the victim and the offender.  Initially, the offer will only be available for crimes where there is no risk of serious harm or re-victimisation, with provisions for serious offences being developed further down the line.
 
During International Restorative Justice Week 2015, which finishes on 22 November, Police and Crime commissioner Simon Hayes launched his Restorative Justice Strategy and commented:
“Here in Hampshire, innovative restorative projects such as the Hampshire Community Court have already been recognised nationally as examples of good practice and innovation. 
 
“I want to build on this good work and give confidence to the public that this approach improves the victim’s experience and, I would hope, help to reduce re-offending; both of which play key roles in my vision for enabling social change in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.
 
“Through my Restorative Justice Strategy, I hope to make Hampshire and the Isle of Wight restorative counties – places where restorative practices are not only used within the criminal justice system, but also as part of conflict resolution in schools, organisations, and within the wider public arena. Listening to the needs of the victim, empowering them and giving them back control are at the heart of this strategy.”
 
Speaking at the launch of the strategy and announcement of the providers, Ray and Vi Donovan gave a compelling account of their experience of Restorative Justice following the murder of their son Chris:
“To hear Chris’ murderers say sorry made us both feel like a ton of coal was taken off our backs. We felt free for the first time because we got all we ever wanted. We got answers to our questions and the truth. Now we hope we can leave those questions in the past and move on into the future.”
 
The long term vision is to make Restorative Justice available across the two counties, to all victims of crime and anti-social behaviour, at all stages of the criminal justice system.  Restorative Justice focuses on the needs of the victim, rather than satisfying the law or dealing punishment, and can take place as an alternative to traditional criminal justice, alongside it, or even after sentencing.  As a result, it offers a much higher level of victim satisfaction and in many cases reduces re-offending.
 
The government commissioned a seven-year research programme into restorative justice which found that:
  • 85% of victims who took part were satisfied with the process
  • Restorative Justice reduced the frequency of re-offending by between 14% and 27% leading to savings of £8 for every £1 spent on restorative justice interventions.
The funding came from the Ministry of Justice for the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner to provide Restorative Justice in the two counties.

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