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OPEN LETTER TO LORD BELLAMY KC – PARLIAMENTARY UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR JUSTICE

25.3.24

Dr. Theo Gavrielides

Stand with Victims, Back Restorative Justice!

Today, through Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts CBE, the RJ4All International Institute received the Minister’s response (dated 25.3.24) to the amendments tabled during the Lord’s Committee Stage seeking to make a number of provisions for restorative justice on the face of the Victims and Prisoners Bill. 

RJ4All has worked with several Peers and MPs from across political parties to put forward a strong, evidence-based case for restorative justice, especially for a Victims’ Right to know about it and indeed to be able to access it consistently and safely.

It is with disappointment that we noted the Minister’s intention not to include a statutory Victims’ Right to Restorative Justice. We have already presented evidence of the government’s failure to implement this right through the Victims’ Code, which remains advisory and inconsistent in its application.

However, we do welcome the government’s intention to revise the Victims Code, and it is our Institute’s hope that this will be made statutory. We also noted the government’s intention to continue supporting the implementation of restorative justice. Nevertheless, we remain concerned as to what this support entails, and whether it will also include community-based restorative justice programmes. Community organisations delivering restorative justice continue to find their collaboration with the formal criminal and youth justice systems extremely difficult, as the Victims’ Code does not place an obligation on public sector agencies to inform victims about community-based restorative justice, nor to divert cases when requested by the harming and harmed parties.

Moreover, we welcome the government’s intention to revise the restorative justice guidance to MOPAC and other Police and Crime Commissioners, and we would be keen to support this process. We must reiterate our concern regarding the government’s past attempt to monopolise and control restorative justice through organisations from the third sector. Any requirement for paid memberships and registers will be seen by our Institute as an attempt to control restorative justice, and therefore we will lobby to oppose it in practice and in democratic debates. We remain firm believers in the community-led nature of restorative justice, and the value that community practitioners bring, including volunteers. We have opposed the MacDonaldisation and standardisation of restorative justice, and will continue with this mandates which has been passed on by harmed, harming parties, practitioners and communities.

In relation to standards, once again, we support the government’s intention for high quality and safe restorative justice. The government is aware that there are statutory standards for restorative justice at EC Directive level as well as a Council of Europe Recommendation. It is our belief that for consistency, these standards must be adopted and any arbitrary, non-statutory codes issued by ad hoc organisations should be avoided.

Finally, the government must note that the APPG has refused engagement on restorative justice unless a membership fee is paid to them. Our Institute, and many other community-based restorative justice organisations cannot afford the cost of this membership. RJ4All has approached the Secretariat on several occasions offering alternatives. These were either turned down or not responded to. Requiring a fee of a few thousand GBP to contribute to democratic debates not only goes against the very ethos of restorative justice dialogue but also of our democracy.

My Institute will continue its lobbying and democratic debates with Peers, MPs, and our members, and will liaise with the government once a full assessment of its position has been made. We will continue to promote “restorative justice for all” that is compliant with universally accepted standards, detached from politics and financial agendas and delivered in partnership with parties in conflict and their communities.

Professor Theo Gavrielides, PhD

RJ4All Founder and Director 


For further inquiries and media contact:

Dr. Theo Gavrielides 

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

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