Offender-led restorative justice service launched in Merseyside
Merseyside Community Rehabilitation Company (M CRC) provides an offender led restorative justice service for service users who wish to make amends for the harm they have caused.
Restorative Justice (RJ) brings victims of crime in communication with their offenders. It enables offenders to be held accountable for their crime and empowers victims to explain the impact of the crime to the offender.
The service provides trained facilitators to support the process who manage any risks to ensure the safety of all parties involved.
In her role as a restorative justice facilitator for M CRC, Karen Williams supports the process of intending to repair the harm caused by the offence.
Karen said: “The restorative justice process is very sensitive and challenging. It helps victims come to terms with the offence that took place by getting answers to their most pressing questions about the crime.
“Victims commonly think they were targeted, but we often find the offence was done randomly. Victims can find relief with this knowledge; it can be very rewarding for all parties involved.”
RJ facilitators play a neutral role between the offender and the victim. The service is voluntary, not mandatory, and based on an informed choice. Offenders must admit to the offence before the process can begin.
Service users currently undertake a piece of victim awareness work via an online victim awareness hub. This provides insight into their readiness to undertake restorative justice.
The RJ service offers face to face conferences if appropriate. Otherwise, video conferences or letters of apology can be arranged.
“We are neutral in our role as facilitators and remain unbiased throughout the process, treating both parties fairly with respect for their dignity.” said Karen.
There are multiple benefits for victims, offenders and the community with the engagement of restorative justice services.
“Victims get answers to questions about crimes committed against them, resolving anxieties that allow them to move forward. It may also stop them from taking matters into their own hands.” said Karen.
Offenders can help repair some or all the harm caused by their offending by taking responsibility for their actions. Allowing them to hear how their crime affected their victim may also prevent them from re-offending.
Karen said: “Communities also benefit as costs to process cases through the criminal justice system are reduced. Every £1 spent on restorative justice saves £9 on case costs. This also reduces strain on public services such as Policing, NHS services and court costs.”