Thames Valley (UK): Restorative Justice Pilot Projects and Training of Practitioners
Practical implementation of RJ-Methods and Procedures in Thames Valley
Restoring the Balance
Restorative Justice that Starts with the Needs of Victims
What is Restorative Justice?
Restorative Justice (RJ) seeks to bring together the person who has suffered harm and the person who caused it, with others affected by the incident, to talk about what happened; who was affected and how; and what can be done to repair the harm. It is an empowering process which enables participants to work towards a restorative outcome through a safe face-to-face meeting. Research tells us that over 85% of victims are satisfied with RJ meetings and that they lead to a significant reduction in re-offending.
What is the Project for?
Most restorative justice to date has started with offenders. Victims have only been approached once offenders have agreed to take part. This Project will start the process by talking with victims and identifying what they need first. We will offer the opportunity to victims to initiate the RJ process by taking referrals from agencies who support victims, as well as from victims themselves. Victims of violence and household burglary and others who have suffered personal harm have been shown to benefit from RJ and will be eligible, although victims of domestic abuse will not be included because of a lack of such evidence.
We plan to design a model of good practice which promotes and safeguards the rights of victims and offers them appropriate support. This work will contribute to the preparation of guidance which can be used across Europe. In particular, we want to ensure that meetings which take place in prisons give priority to the needs of victims. We also want to identify what can be helpful to those victims whose offenders do not wish to meet face-to-face.
How will it work?
Agencies who work with victims of crime, including Victim Support, the Police, the Crown Prosecution Service, and Probation Victim Liaison Units will be invited to refer suitable victims to the service. Victims will also be able to refer themselves. We hope to be able to develop a public profile through media interviews and stories about the benefit of RJ to victims, so that the public will know what we are doing. Victims are eligible to take part if they have suffered an offence causing personal harm, but not one of domestic abuse between partners, or ex-partners. Once a referral has been made, we will visit the victim and explain in detail what is on offer. Victims will then be able to decide how they want to proceed. In some cases this will be a face-to-face meeting with supporters and family present, in other cases it could be a letter of apology from the offender, or in other cases it will be a form of reparation tailored individually to meet their needs. The project will be evaluated to measure how well it has worked, what the benefits are to victims and offenders and what works to produce the best outcomes.
Who are we?
Thames Valley Restorative Justice involves Thames Valley Partnership working with Thames Valley Probation and Victim Support in a collaboration funded by the European Union. Our organisation has taken part in government-funded research which demonstrated high quality practice, very high levels of victim satisfaction and reduced levels of re-offending. Our trained facilitators have a wide range of experience working in criminal justice, education and international settings.
How do I make contact to make a referral or get more information?
You can contact us: (Geoff Emerson, RJ Manager, or Maria Hebden, Administrator)
Phone: 01869 328 500
Mob: 07736 372 336 (Geoff)