VICTIMS of crime in Cambridgeshire can now request to meet their offender in a restorative justice conference thanks to Cambridgeshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner.
Such conferences have been proven to help repair the harm caused by the crime by allowing the victim to explain to the offender the impact of their actions. It also enables the victim to understand why the offender behaved the way they did.
Police and Crime Commissioner Sir Graham Bright and Cambridgeshire Constabulary have pledged to work in partnership with other agencies to develop restorative justice in the county.
The move has seen Sir Graham appoint a not for profit Community Interest Company Restorative Solutions as a delivery partner to provide advice and expertise in the early days.
The Ministry of Justice has provided all PCCs with an initial two years’ funding, as part of the Victims’ Services Grant, to facilitate victim-initiated restorative justice.
Sir Graham said: “It is great to be able to yet again improve the experience for victims of crime in Cambridgeshire. T
“his work follows hot on the heels of the launch of our police-led Victims’ Hub and we expect the Victim Care Co-ordinators will be instrumental in explaining to victims what is now available.
“While I have asked the Constabulary to lead this work for me, they can’t do this alone and we have already been having conversations with existing restorative justice providers in the county about how we can work together. I was also keen to ensure we had access to real experts in this area which is why I appointed Restorative Solutions to support the Cambridgeshire approach.”
Deputy Chief Constable Alec Wood has championed the use of restorative justice in the Constabulary and says it could make a “real difference” to the lives of those who choose to get involved. “The evidence is clear that victims of crime who take part in restorative conferences are more likely to be able to move on from the crime committed against them. Offenders are less likely to offend again – so it’s a win-win situation.”
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 meeting offenders are motivated to change their lives for the better and this means less crime and fewer victims in Cambridgeshire.”
Restorative Justice (RJ) is a process which “brings those harmed by crime or conflict, and those responsible for the harm, into communication, enabling everyone affected by a particular incident to play a part in repairing the harm and finding a positive way forward”.
The process is carefully managed at all stages by trained facilitators.