The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, today (Friday 26th August) launched a new £1.3m support programme led by victims of crime, and for victims of crime, to cut reoffending rates and help victims recover and move on with their lives.
Londoners who have been affected by crime will have the chance to meet their offender if they wish, in an approach which has already proved successful in helping victims to recover from their ordeal*and also reduced reoffending rates.
The first ever Pan-London Restorative Justice programme is the UK’s single biggest restorative justice commission and will offer access at every stage of the criminal justice system. The approach holds offenders to account for what they have done, helping them understand the impact of their crime and make amends to their victims.
The move follows a poll conducted by Ipsos MORI during March/April 2015 which found that 46 per cent of victims would want to meet their offender, however current service access across London is inconsistent. This new London-wide programme will complement and enhance existing services, filling gaps in provision and operating alongside criminal justice procedures.
The Mayor’s Office for Policing And Crime (MOPAC) has appointed Restore: London, a non- profit consortium led by social business Catch22, to develop the London-wide initiative. Together with key partners, the consortium aims to raise awareness of restorative justice among victims and offenders, improve access to services and victim satisfaction, increase referral speed and develop information-sharing between agencies. They will develop the programme in detail over the coming months.
Restore: London has begun recruiting a steering group to oversee and evaluate the programme. In an innovative new approach, the group, mainly comprised of people who have themselves been victims of crime, will share evidence and insights with key partners including Police and Crime Commissioners across England and Wales.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “I want to put the needs of victims at the heart of London’s criminal justice process. Crime of any kind can have a devastating, lasting effect on victims, and it’s my duty as Mayor to do what I can to make London safer and prevent as many people as possible needlessly becoming victims of crime. We need to both punish and reform offenders. At the moment, if victims’ needs are considered at all, it’s an afterthought and many offenders go on to reoffend.
“Many victims of crime want to meet the offender. Victims of crime sitting down with their offenders, alongside well-trained facilitators, can help them come to terms with their experiences and move on with their lives. But as well as helping victims, restorative justice can also help drive down reoffending, cutting the cost to the taxpayer and making our communities safer. It is not an easy way out for the offenders. They do not receive any reductions in the punishment handed down as part of their sentencing.
“I’ve seen for myself, this isn’t about offenders just saying sorry and getting a rap on the knuckles. Done properly, it has a powerful impact on both the victim and the offender. This is why I’m so keen to give victims across the capital the choice to pursue restorative justice to help them come to terms with their experiences, move on with their lives and cut reoffending.”
Once appointed, the new steering group will use the next few months to assess borough demand for the project and develop an operational model, with the programme set to roll out across the capital early next year. The Restore: London consortium, made up of Catch22, Restorative Solutions, Khulisa and the IARS International Institute, will operate a centralised referral hub, working with a broad range of statutory and voluntary sector organisations to make it as easy as possible for victims to access the service.
Mat Ilic, Strategic Director, Justice at Catch22, which leads the Restore: London consortium, commented: “The Mayor’s Office has recognised that restorative justice is a powerful strategy for helping people recover from crime. We look forward to working with both victims and practitioners to map the availability and quality of restorative justice across London. This is an opportunity to build a truly ground breaking, evidence led programme which ensures that victims are able to access consistently high quality restorative justice services at every stage of the criminal justice cycle.”
Ed, from Wood Green, accessed restorative justice services after being a victim of burglary. He said: “It was a valuable experience. It made me less worried that I’d been targeted, but it also concluded some of the emotional aspects and closed a chapter. Now, I’ve got a sense of perspective on what happened, but it’s also given me some insight into the criminal justice process. Restorative justice offers emotional closure and it puts a perspective on a crime – it seems less sinister. And it involves citizens in the justice process, meaning they come face to face with it and understand how it works."