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Joint Advocacy letter​: Inclusion of Restorative Justice in the Victims & Prisoners Bill​

MINISTRY OF JUSTICE 

102 Petty France, London SW1H 9AJ 

 Cc: 

Alex Chalk 

Dominic Raab 

Lord Bellamy KC 

Advocacy Letter: Victims’ Right to Restorative Justice 

We are writing to advocate for a Victims’ Right to Restorative Justice. This Advocacy Letter aims to capitalise on the unique opportunity that the Victims and Prisoners’ Bill is presenting. The Victims’ Code that includes this right is only advisory and thus criminal justice agencies have failed to respect it, letting many victims down. 

 

Amendments that the Restorative Justice for All International Institute (RJ4All) tabled covering the aforementioned right received support by several peers from across the political landscape, and it is within this context that we ask the government and your Ministry to act now. 

With immense respect for the impactful work conducted by the Ministry of Justice, we are seeking your support to incorporate the right of victims to restorative justice into the Victims and Prisoners Bill. Restorative Justice for All firmly believes in the power of restorative justice to transform our justice system by fostering dialogue, empathy, and accountability, offering a unique avenue for healing victims and supporting offenders in bearing accountability. 

In the spirit of promoting a more comprehensive and compassionate legal framework, we ask that the below amendments are introduced into the Bill We believe that integrating restorative justice into the Victims and Prisoners Bill aligns with the evolving landscape of justice and signifies a crucial step towards a more human rights centred approach. 

We are eager to engage in further discussions and based on our evidence and expertise to delineate the positive impact that the inclusion of restorative justice could have on our criminal justice system. 

 

Your thoughtful consideration of our proposed amendments is immensely appreciated, and we look forward to the potential positive changes that could arise from this collaborative effort. 

Sincerely, 

 

Dr. Theo Gavrielides 

RJ4All Founder and Director 

Email: t.gavrielides@rj4all.org

Why Restorative Justice Matters

Restorative justice is a well-established and evidence-based alternative, dispelling the notion that it merely aims to “let offenders off the hook.” Its consistent and remarkable effectiveness in addressing harm is particularly evident in complex crime scenarios, where voluntary and honest participation, coupled with open dialogue, underpins its positive impact on all those affected. The Victims’ Code 2020 recognises the intrinsic value of restorative justice, entitling every victim of crime to receive information about restorative justice (Right 3) and to be referred to a restorative justice service in their area (Right 4). 

 

Empirical evidence unequivocally supports the efficacy of restorative justice, resulting in reduced crime rates, fewer victims, and significant benefits such as empowering victims, facilitating coping and recovery, fostering responsibility in those who have committed crimes, enhancing victim satisfaction, and reducing reoffending. Restorative Justice has been proved to address all those unmet needs of the conventional criminal justice system and give space to the victims to pose the questions they want. Integrating restorative justice principles into the legislative framework, as proposed in the bill, not only aligns with international directives but also positions the criminal justice system to comprehensively address the diverse needs of all stakeholders involved, thereby promoting a more just and effective legal landscape. 

The four proposed amendments

Our proposed amendments are evidence-based and non-political. We maintain a neutral stance, presenting arguments drawn from evidence, both for and against restorative justice. These include:

 

1/ The Right to Restorative Justice:Allow harmed parties to opt for restorative justice, as already introduced by two international agreements- the Victims Directive (2012/29/EU) and The Council of Europe Recommendation CM/REC (2018)8. The UK persists in overlooking the right to restorative justice established by these two substantial international agreements, despite their recognition that restorative justice can complement traditional criminal proceedings or serve as an alternative to them. 

2/ Definition for Restorative Justice: RJ4All proposed a definition drawn from the Council of Europe Recommendation that is aligned with our understanding of restorative justice as being an ethos as well as diversionary practice. 

3/ The Right to Know about Restorative Justice:The current Bill lacks an obligation for criminal justice agencies to apprise harmed parties about restorative justice. “A right is not a right unless you know about it.” It is imperative to mandate criminal justice agencies to inform parties about restorative justice options, as the primary obstacle to exercising this right is low awareness. 

4/ Guidance about restorative justice providers:This clause outlines the roles, services, collaboration processes, and required training for restorative justice providers. Adherence to this guidance is mandatory for providers and relevant individuals in their respective functions, with exceptions for those acting in a judicial capacity. 

Supporters

Individuals: 60 – to be updated

 

Leanne Nye, Restorative Justice and Victim Worker

Nick Johnson, Southwark Borough Councillor

Ben Lyon, Gabrielle Browne, Arthur GAILLARD, Olivia Millard, Joshua Oduro

Anna Foss-Galtier, Carmen Costa, Lee Halan, Linh Nguyen, Le Kritis, Kris Straker, Ryan Javis and more!

Organisations: 10 – to be updated

and StrakerRPSolutions

Voice it, Get it! 

We value your voice. Be part of our Joint Advocacy Letter

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Restorative Justice Gains Ground in House of Lords: RJ4All referenced in the Debate 

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A victims’ right to Restorative Justice amendment tabled for the Victims and Prisoners Bill 

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The provision of restorative justice through the Victims and Prisoners Bill

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The Victims Bill, the Rwanda Bill and the post office miscarriages of justice: What do they have in common? 

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