Your PCC is committed to ensuring victims’ needs remain at the heart of policing and criminal justice, and with that commitment comes an understanding that ‘justice’ means different things to different people, and a ‘one size fits all’ approach will not suit everyone.
For some victims of crime, having the opportunity to challenge behaviour and repair harm is as important as seeing blame assigned and punishment dispensed.
Restorative Justice (RJ) aims to put victims’ needs first, giving them the option to meet with the offender, discuss what happened and explain the impact the incident has had on them.
The process puts victims back in control, helping them cope with and recover from what has happened to them. It also holds offenders to account for what they have done. Bringing them into contact with the victims of their crimes and showing them the real impact of their actions has been shown by Ministry of Justice figures to reduce the likelihood of offenders committing more crime.
Such is the success of restorative justice, both in terms of victim satisfaction with the outcome and reduction in reoffending, that the Victims’ Code now states all victims of crime should have access to RJ in appropriate cases.
Norfolk and Suffolk Restorative Justice Service
The use of restorative approaches is not limited to policing, and your PCC is working with partners across the county and beyond to build capacity and capability to deliver victim-focused restorative justice. One outcome of this is the launch of a Restorative Justice Service across Norfolk and Suffolk.
Commissioned by the PCCs from both counties, the service delivered by Victim Support uses trained volunteers to undertake safe RJ activity with victims and offenders, working alongside other partners in the criminal justice and restorative justice fields. It makes restorative justice more accessible for victims of crime as it does not rely on police time alone and offers the added benefit of specialist support for more complex cases.
If anyone has been a victim of crime, or has been harmed as the result of a crime or other incident, and feel they could benefit from restorative justice, they can contact the service to discuss their case and the help they could receive.
Restorative Justice is one part of a wider approach to giving victims of crime in Norfolk a greater say in how people who commit crime or anti-social behaviour (ASB) are dealt with. This approach is known as ‘Community Remedy.’
More about Community Remedy:
What is Community Remedy and when can it be used?Community remedy is where a first-time offender, who has committed a low-level offence (low-level criminal damage, low value theft, minor assaults (without injury) and anti-social behaviour), expresses regret for their actions and undertakes reparative work to put right the harm they have caused. It is not automatic but provides an alternative to going through the traditional court system which can absorb a great amount of time and taxpayers' money. The process allows victims of crime to have a say in the punishment of offenders as well as an opportunity to meet them face-to-face. It enables the victims to understand why the offender committed the crime, as well as the offender understanding how much upset may have been experienced by the victim. The offender agrees to this course of action and the victim does not have to meet the offender unless they wish to. A community remedy can be used as long as the police officer considers that community resolution is appropriate.
Norfolk's Community RemedyThe Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act places a statutory duty on all Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) to develop a list of community remedy options, of which in Norfolk restorative justice is one. Working with statutory and non-statutory agencies, victim support organisations and communities, your PCC, Stephen Bett, developed a list of options upon which he then consulted with the public of Norfolk. The responses received to that consultation showed a great deal of support for community remedy in general, with many people embracing the overall aim of giving victims a stronger voice and a choice in how they get justice. There were varied responses on which of the suggested options individuals would themselves choose should they find themselves in that position. There was also a feeling that victims should be able to choose more than one remedy, that remedies should be carried out in the area where the crime was committed, and that their use should be restricted to use with first-time offenders only. This feedback helped inform Stephen's recommendations to Norfolk Police who are responsible for implementing Norfolk's community remedy. Norfolk's Community Remedy From Autumn 2014, victims of crime are able to have a say in the punishment of the offender from the following list of options if a police officer deems a community resolution is appropriate:
- Mediation (for example, to resolve a neighbour dispute)
- A written or face-to-face apology
- The perpetrator signing an Acceptable Behaviour Contract - where they agree not to behave anti-socially in the future - or face more formal consequences
- Victim-focused Restorative Justice (RJ). This would involve face-to-face restorative justice approaches between the victim and the offender (based on initial consultation with the victim)
- Repairing damage to property or cleaning graffiti
- Paying an appropriate amount for damage to be repaired or stolen property to be replaced
- Participation in structured activities that are either educational or rehabilitative
- Reparation to the community (for example, by doing local unpaid work for a short period, such as picking up litter in a park or on a beach).
More information on PCC Stephen Bett’s work to support victims and witnesses of crime can be found on our commissioning pages.