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Open Letter to the Home Office Minister: Building the World’s first Restorative Justice Postcode

Minister James Cleverly 

Minister for the Secretary of State for the Home Department

Home Office

2 Marsham Street

London  

SW1P 4DF 

 

 

19 June 2024 

Dear Minister Cleverly,

 

I am writing on behalf of Restorative Justice for All (RJ4All) regarding one of our flagship programmes aimed at establishing the world’s first restorative justice postcode in London, at SE16. This initiative stems from our strong belief that the root causes of societal problems such as poverty, criminality, disadvantage and inequality are found in the abuse of power. Using the principles and methods of restorative justice, RJ4All (detailed in Annex I) aims to address power abuse and empower communities in decision-making.

Our correspondence arises from recent discussions with the Minister for Victims and Safeguarding, Laura Farris, as part of our advocacy efforts for the victims’ right to restorative justice within the framework of the Victims and Prisoners Act. During these exchanges, our postcode programme and vision were highlighted. Mrs. Farris acknowledged the significance of our proposal for the restorative justice postcode and directed us to your department, pointing out the Home Office’s lead role in matters pertaining to crime prevention and community safety.

RJ4All responded on May 9, 2024, to Meera Patel, the Ministerial Account Manager for Laura Farris, requesting further information on the responsible specific department or individual within the Home Office. However, we never received a reply.

Therefore, I am issuing this open letter and extent our offer our time to explain to your officials both the structure and impact of the postcode programme which has been supported by scientific evidence.

It is an ambitious endeavour with the goal of establishing the world’s first restorative justice postcode in SE16, in London. This groundbreaking initiative seeks to address extreme inequalities, reduce criminality, and foster community cohesion through restorative justice principles. Our achievements thus far, detailed in Annex II, underscore our commitment to (a) empowering communities to be heard in decision-making and (b) gathering evidence to pursue systemic and structural changes through local and national policy, academia and the press.

Our programme’s priorities are in direct alignment with the Home Office’s pivotal role in policing and crime prevention. We endorse the Home Office’s responsibility to reduce and prevent crime, ensure public safety, and support accountable policing, as stipulated in the governmental agenda. By fostering community engagement, implementing preventative measures, and addressing the underlying causes of crime, our initiative seeks to complement and bolster the Home Office’s overarching objectives of enhancing community safety and reducing criminal activity.

Hence, we believe that collaboration with the Home Office is essential in realising our shared objectives. By working together, we can amplify our impact, rebuild trust, and create safer, more cohesive communities.

We, therefore, extend an invitation to meet and discuss potential collaboration opportunities in further detail.

Thank you for considering our proposal. We eagerly await the prospect of collaborating with you and securing your support for our vision to establish the world’s first restorative justice postcode.

 

Yours sincerely,

Professor, Theo Gavrielides, PhD

RJ4All Founder and Director

ANNEX I: Introduction to Restorative Justice for All (RJ4All)

Restorative Justice for All (RJ4All) is an international charitable institute committed to addressing power abuse, conflict, and poverty through restorative justice values and practices. RJ4All strongly believes that the root causes of societal problems such as poverty, disadvantage and inequality are found in the abuse of power, whether this resides within individuals, institutions, or governments. Our mission is multifaceted, encompassing community cohesion, equality, and human rights advocacy. RJ4All operates locally from its Rotherhithe Community Centre in London, where a range of initiatives, educational programmes, and volunteering opportunities are offered to marginalised groups. 

At RJ4All, we apply restorative justice not merely as a practice for preventing and reducing harm, but more importantly as a way of living and as a moral compass that shifts community focus onto solutions and the future. Two key underlying restorative justice values are power-sharing and involvement in decision-making. Our central methodological approach is community dialogue delivered in a safe, equal and voluntary manner. As a community-cohesion organisation, we use these values and method to work both on the front-line through the provision of anti-poverty and community cohesion projects, but also at society level by: (a) empowering communities to be heard in decision-making and (b) gathering evidence to pursue systemic and structural changes through local and national policy, academia and the press.

ANNEX II: The Restorative Justice Postcode Project


Basic Principles of the Programme
This pioneering project is built on the principle that sustainable community cohesion and resilience require structural and systemic changes at a local level. It involves collaborating with local stakeholders across SE16 to embed restorative justice principles within local institutions and the broader community. Key principles of the programme include empowering local communities to take part in decisions affecting their lives and ensuring service delivery is community-led through power-sharing and decision-making. It utilises a restorative justice ethos not only to prevent and reduce harm but also as a way of life, promoting solutionsfocused and future-oriented approaches. The programme is designed and owned by the community, ensuring it is tailored to their specific needs and contexts, emphasizing community ownership.

At RJ4All, we do what it says on the tin “restorative justice for all”. Our model is not for us to own, but for diverse communities to use with our support. 

Learning While Doing Philosophy and Data Collection Process

The programme is grounded in our “learning while doing” philosophy, which involves continuously
gathering data and feedback to refine and improve the initiative. This approach ensures that the project adapts to community needs and leverages real-time learning. Our data collection process is detailed in our Research Protocol, which employs both quantitative and qualitative research methods for robust analysis. Therefore, the programme has an in-built mechanism for ongoing data collection, which has been formally accepted by our Research Ethics Board. This mechanism has led to several evaluation reports, offering valuable insights and highlighting new learning areas such as new technologies for connections, partnership delivery models, language barriers and misconceptions about restorative justice, the importance of locality for community connections, and strategies to address barriers faced by disengaged groups.

Achievements to Date
The SE16 pilot of our restorative justice programme has achieved significant milestones. High levels of civic engagement and belonging have been reported within SE16, demonstrating improved connections and stronger community spaces. Central to our success is the Rotherhithe Community Centre, a safe and accessible space where diverse SE16 communities come together. The Centre offers a wide range of activities tailored to meet local needs, including well-being circles, a food bank, cook and connect classes focusing on culture and nutrition, gardening and green projects, sports and mental health services, a community gym and library, a reconciliation service, a warm hub, digital drop-ins, and Youth Clubs+. Furthermore, our regular community consultation “Speak Up” events have become a cornerstone event, addressing and discussing critical issues such as community disempowerment, youth crime, anti-social behaviour, lack of community spaces, and the erosion of trust in public authorities due to perceived power abuse and lack of accountability. Our research highlights the need for enhanced efforts to establish community spaces, secure long-term funding for essential services, bridge trust gaps, and continue restorative justice work through broadening its provision and investing in community prevention and direct intervention. 

All these activities have become a process that gradually shifts local power to them while addressing their direct needs, gets their voices heard by the local powerful and increases a sense of belonging. Additionally, the pilot benefits from the guidance and support of a dedicated Steering Group (SG). The SG, consisting of community and faith leaders, local councilors, businesses, the local authority, and community organisations, meets quarterly to advise, scrutinise, and support the pilot. This group plays a crucial role in ensuring the programme’s success by providing strategic direction, promoting community voice, and facilitating partnerships that enhance the programme’s impact. They are currently developing a ‘Restorative Justice Memorandum’ to introduce restorative justice dialogue in various local institutions, ensuring community participation in decision-making processes. 

Our achievements to date underscore the programme’s transformative potential, and we are committed to scaling up these efforts, aiming to replicate the SE16 model in other postcodes across the UK. This expansion will involve sharing our learning, influencing policy, and supporting new community initiatives, ultimately fostering more resilient, inclusive, and cohesive communities nationwide.

For further inquiries and media contact:

Dr. Theo Gavrielides 

Direct no +44(0)7732569000 office no: +44(0)7708758600

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