Last week (3 March 2017), the MoJ belatedly published its latest Restorative Justice Action Plan. I say belatedly because the plan covers the period from November 2016 to March 2018.
This is the fourth iteration of the action plan which sets out two main priorities:
- Improving the MoJ understanding of the way RJ services are commissioned by Police and Crime Commissioners, and
- Building up an evidence base for effective delivery.
The MoJ sets out its vision for “good quality, victim-focused RJ to be available at all stages of the CJS in England and Wales” and goes on to say that success will mean that:
- Victims have equal access to RJ at all stages of the CJS irrespective of their location, the age of the offender or offence committed against them;
- People have an awareness and understanding of RJ, it’s benefits, what it entails and how to access it; and
- Good quality RJ is delivered by trained facilitators.
The MoJ also sets out its monitoring system:
- Monitoring RJ provision through on-going engagement with PCCs via the PCC Relationship Managers;
- Monitoring take up of the Restorative Justice Council’s Restorative Services Standards and Restorative Services Quality Mark;
- Working with the Victims’ Commissioner to monitor compliance with the relevant requirements in the Victims’ Code; and
- Continuing to work with the Restorative Justice Council to understand the extent and nature of RJ provision.
The action plan sets out three key areas for action and specifies its desired outcomes in each:
- Equal access – RJ is available to victims at all stages of the CJS irrespective of whether the offender in the case is an adult or a young person and irrespective of where in the country the victim lives and where the offender is located. Victims should not be denied RJ because of the offence committed against them.
- Awareness and understanding – People are aware of RJ and its potential benefits (particularly for victims). They understand what RJ entails and its place in the CJS. Victims and offenders can make informed decisions about participating in RJ and know how to access it.
- Good quality – RJ is safe, competent and focused on the needs of the victim. RJ is always delivered by a facilitator trained to recognised standards and only takes place where an assessment by the facilitator indicates that this would be an appropriate course of action for all relevant parties with a particular emphasis on ensuring there is no re- victimisation.
This is a coherent strategy but as someone without a specialist knowledge of RJ; I’m slightly surprised by the lack of any detail on funding. For instance, one of the key action points under the “equal access” outcome is to:
Make sure prisons and probation services provide a supportive environment for RJ which enables providers … to deliver victim-offender conferencing (RJ) where the offender is in custody or under supervision and for post-conviction pre-sentence RJ.
I’m presuming that prisons, the NPS and CRCs will just be required to do this without any additional support.
If you’ve got more knowledge about how these actions are being implemented, please share via the comments section below.
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