Victim-Initiated and Pre-Sentence Restorative Justice Service
Responsibility and funding for commissioning Victim-Initiated and Pre-Sentence Restorative Justice (RJ) was transferred to local PCCs at the same time as other victims’ services. Thames Valley has a strong background in providing offender led Restorative Justice and the Office of the PCC was keen from the start to build on this by creating a specialist local service for Victim-Initiated Restorative Justice.
After extensive engagement a specification for the service was created and tendered for during RJ week in November 2014 and the three- year contract was awarded to Thames Valley Partnership in early 2015 with the service beginning April 2015.
Thames Valley Partnership is responsible for Thames Valley Restorative Justice Service (TVRJS) and has over 15 years’ experience of championing and delivering RJ services in the region.
TVRJS are now providing Victim-Initiated RJ across Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Oxfordshire and working towards implementing Pre-Sentence RJ across the Thames Valley.
What is Restorative Justice?
RJ is about communication between victims and offenders. It empowers victims by giving them an opportunity to both ask questions of and explain to offenders the real impact of the crime. Offenders are held to account for what they have done and encouraged to take responsibility and make amends. RJ therefore aims to increase the empowerment and well-being of the victim after the crime and informs the experience of the offender in planning their life for the future.
Government research demonstrates that Restorative Justice provides an 85% victim satisfaction rate, and a 14% reduction in the frequency of re-offending.
Possibilities for restorative processes include;
- contact or indirect contact via a facilitator or others
- the “shuttle process” - where the facilitator goes back and forth between the parties
- the exchange of written correspondence directly between victim and offender
- RJ “conferences” - where a facilitator brings together a victim and offender and together they talk through the offence and its impact
- direct reparation or indirect reparation may then be agreed between the participants as part of a conference agreement
A meeting between victim and offender takes place after the preparation of both parties who have given their full and informed consent to taking part in a face-to-face meeting. The process will take place at the pace determined by the participants and may include meetings with other key figures, including family, friends and supporters. The process is about building understanding and confidence, with a face-to-face meeting and an agreement on some form of reparation being the end of a journey.
What is Victim-Initiated Restorative Justice?
Traditionally RJ has been primarily offender-led whereas the new service commissioned by the Office of the PCC is Victim-Initiated RJ.
This service will give the victim the opportunity to request RJ themselves, during any stage of the criminal justice process. Victims of crimes which have had a personal impact on them will be able to take part whatever the level of seriousness of the crime. How the case will progress will depend on whether the offender is caught and convicted and at what stage the victim makes the request.
If you have been a victim of crime and are considering RJ you can contact TVRJS who will help guide you through what the process entails, what you might expect from it and whether you think it might be beneficial to you.
You can refer yourself or make a referral here through the Victims First website.
For more information on the RJ process you can contact TVRJS by:
Tel: 01844 202001
A referral form can also be found below: