Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

£29m for restorative justice scheme

Justice Minister Damian Green said restorative justice is not a soft option and will not lead to offenders escaping punishment

Millions of pounds are to be made available for measures to bring offenders and victims together - including face-to-face confrontations.

At least £29 million will be made available over the next three years for restorative justice - the process of bringing those whose lives have been ruined by crime or conflict together with those responsible for the harm.

A recent study by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) linked the conferencing process with a 14% cut in re-offending, while 85% of victims who took part said they were satisfied with the experience.

Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) and charities will receive the funding, which has been recovered from offenders, Justice Minister Damian Green said.

Mr Green said: "Many victims of crime get to see sentences handed down in the courts, but it's not always enough to help them move on with their lives.

"Restorative justice gives victims the opportunity to look offenders in the eye and explain to them the real impact the crime has had on their life.

"The process also provides a chance for offenders to face the consequences of their actions.

"Restorative justice is not a soft option and will not lead to offenders escaping punishment. Crimes of a serious nature will continue to be progressed through the courts."

For the remaining six months of the current financial year, £5 million has been provided for restorative justice, of which £3.85 million will be distributed to PCCs.

A further £10 million is earmarked for 2014-15 and at least £14 million has been set aside for 2015-16.

Just over £1 million was spent by the MoJ in 2012-13.

Gaynor McKeown, lead on restorative justice at independent charity Victim Support, said: "Victims tell us that they want to see offenders punished, but also they don't want to see their offender commit another crime.

"Our work shows that when restorative justice is planned around the victim's wishes, it helps them move on with their lives, and can reduce crime by getting offenders to appreciate the impact of their actions on others."

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