PCC and University launch Restorative Justice strategy
The Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), David Lloyd, and the University of Hertfordshire have jointly-launched a new strategy that aims to put victims at the heart of restorative justice in the county.

There are currently several different definitions of restorative justice and no overarching strategy for practicing it across Hertfordshire. As a result the University’s School of Law was commissioned by the PCC to develop an overarching countywide approach to restorative justice, so that it can be offered consistently and safely to victims across the county. 

To develop this consistent approach, the strategy adopts a single, universal understanding of restorative justice, which is to bring those harmed by crime or conflict, and those responsible for the harm, into communication. This enables anyone affected by a particular incident to play a part in repairing the harm and finding a positive way forward.

The fundamental element is the dialogue between the victim and the offender, but importantly, it also offers victims a ‘voice’ within the justice system and potentially aids them in moving on from what can be a traumatic experience.

This newly-developed strategy was unveiled at an inaugural conference held at the University’s Fielder Centre on Monday (23rd March) for restorative justice practitioners and partners from across the county, including police, probation and magistrates as well as representatives from the voluntary sector.  

Commissioner Lloyd said: “I was delighted to be able to launch this new strategy for Hertfordshire. My aim is to have a consistent approach to restorative justice in Hertfordshire that is both victim-centred and accessible to those who want it at all stages of the justice process. 

“Restorative justice should go hand-in-hand with criminal justice. It gives the victim the chance to communicate the harm they have received directly with the offender in a way that criminal proceedings cannot always do. This strategy will help make restorative justice available to more victims and to agreed standards; above all it is another step in putting victims back at the heart of the justice system in Hertfordshire.” 

The ultimate objective is for restorative justice to be accessible to all victims in Hertfordshire, where the offender is identified and admits guilt, and at any stage in the criminal justice process. This can range from low level offences dealt with out of court, such as cautions, to more serious cases where offenders are sentenced in Magistrates’ or Crown courts.  

From 1st April all victims will be able to request access to restorative justice through the police, probation or court services via the newly-created victim care centre in the county (details of which will be announced shortly). 

Dr Andrew Clutterbuck, Pro Vice Chancellor (UK Education Partnerships) at the University, alongside the Commissioner, welcomed delegates to the day-long event. 

Dr Clutterbuck said: “Bringing together the University’s School of Law and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner is a unique collaborative partnership. It reflects the School’s commitment to the community of Hertfordshire and adds to its vision of working co-operatively, partnership-based and multi-agency.” 

The new strategy will bring Hertfordshire into line with the Victims Code of Practice and an EU directive setting minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime. A discussion on the directive was also included on the day highlighting the requirement to ensure that the delivery of restorative justice is both safe and delivered by qualified practitioners.