National Restorative Justice Week

Focus must be on victim says Commissioner

This week marks National Restorative Justice Week and here in the Northumbria Police region victims are being put at the heart of this work.

Leading this focus is the Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird who is looking at all the services provided to victims of crime to ensure no matter where a person lives in the force area they get the same positive service.

Restorative Justice is not new to the region and was first introduced in the early 2000s.

In the past two weeks the Commissioner has held a workshop which brought together organisations working with both youth and adult offenders and with victims.

The work carried out can include face-to-face meetings, community remedies and community payback – different ways of ensuring the victim is helped to recover from their experience while helping the perpetrator understand what they have done.

It can involve the perpetrator repairing the damage they have caused at the victim’s home or working in the community and meeting with their victim.

The Commissioner takes over funding for support services for victims from the Ministry of Justice in April next year as part of a nationwide move.

Vera Baird said she was looking forward to taking over supporting victims which is already a priority of her Police and Crime Plan.

She added: “Putting victims first is a very important priority of my plan and one which I continue to take forward.

“I’m fully aware of the impact of being a victim of crime and want to support people to restore their confidence and in turn the confidence enjoyed by our communities.

“I’ve made vulnerable victims of crime and those affected by anti-social behaviour an important part of my plan which aims to keep victims fully informed about their investigation.

“Having responsibility for victims in our region is a chance to bring together all the organisations providing vital services to these people when they need help and putting them at the centre of a process where the perpetrator is helped to understand the impact they have had on their victim’s lives.

“I’m looking forward to working with these organisations and driving forward the service provided to all our communities.”

Simon Smart, Restorative Justice Co-ordinator at the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “These organisations offer different things to different people at different stages.

“Our aim is to continue the drive to bring all this work together so no matter where you live in the Northumbria force area you have access to the best service for you.

“It is not a legal or monetary approach but about aligning the various services.”

Presently a victim could be contacted several times by the various organisations in place to support them.

“Each time the victim has to relive their experience which is of no benefit and only leads to re-victimisation,” Mr Smart said, adding: “It’s all about the benefits for the victim and putting them fairly and squarely at the centre of what is done.”

Restorative Justice Week runs from November 16 to 23.

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