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Commissioner's office and University host restorative justice debate
Justice-related concepts such as “an-eye-for-an eye” and the rehabilitation of offenders were hotly-debated at an event held at the University of Hertfordshire to mark the International Restorative Justice Week.
 
The University’s School of Law in Hatfield and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner jointly hosted a debate between law students about the value of restorative justice on Thursday (20th November) evening.
 
The session was held inside the School’s replica courtroom and each student presented their case before they were cross-examined by the other students in the audience.*
 
Points of view where a victim should be able to administer an equal harm on the offender for the crime they have suffered were pitted against other resolutions such as a more “restorative” approach. Restorative justice is a process where the victim can convey to the offender the harm that they have caused and the real impact of their crime. Restorative Justice is not a substitute for the courts but can be a useful additional intervention to help a victim come to terms with their ordeal.
 
For each idea, the positives and negatives for both the offender and the victim were examined in analytical detail and with the cut and thrust of a real criminal case. In the end, the students’ performances were evaluated by judge-for-the-day Kevin McGetrick, who is responsible for Victims Commissioning for the Police and Crime Commissioner for Hertfordshire. Kevin awarded prizes to the two best performances with the offer to shadow the Police and Crime Commissioner for the winner.
 
Police and Crime Commissioner David Lloyd said afterwards: “This was an excellent collaboration between my office and the university. As I’ve said many times before, policing and the criminal justice system is everybody’s business and I am keen for people of all ages and backgrounds to engage with the ideas that form and shape it.
 
“It was particularly pleasing to hear about the quality of the debate by the students and I hope the exercise helped give them some wider context to their studies.”
 
Dr Chamu Kuppuswamy, Senior Lecturer in Law at the School, added: “We are excited to be working with the OPCC on the issue of restorative justice. We're building a research programme that will have a direct impact on the region as well as influence debates regarding victims of crime at a national and international level.
 
“Most importantly though, this type of event provides an opportunity for students to engage with important social and political issues from the very beginning of their studies.”
 
*A full list of the contested positions is available via the blog http://uhwarofwords.wordpress.com/2014/11/17/enter-this-weeks-rj-special-uhwow-candidates/