Hertfordshire Commissioner Urges Better Outcomes for Victims
The Police and Crime Commissioner, David Lloyd is committed to providing better services to victims through the process of Restorative Justice (RJ).

As today marks the beginning of Restorative Justice Week, the Commissioner in Hertfordshire has identified that 73% of people questioned in a recent study, in which 375 people participated, said they would support RJ.

Restorative Justice is a process that brings together victims and offenders, enabling everyone affected by a particular incident to play a part in repairing the harm and finding a positive way forward.

RJ is available in Hertfordshire and the Constabulary is currently training around 1500 officers and staff to ensure that they can offer the process to victims of crime and refer them to a trained practitioner who can fully explain what is involved. Officers are also being trained in Level 1 RJ to enable them to use restorative techniques to deal with low level crime through a new approach called the Community Resolution. 

The Commissioner said: “In 2015, I launched a five year Restorative Justice Strategy for Hertfordshire to help practitioners, criminal justice partners and community leaders have a common understanding of what Restorative Justice is and how to deliver the service. I want to build upon these foundations to ensure that all agencies across the county fully understand what RJ is so we can be confident that it is embedded into everyday practice.”

“I  am also keen to investigate the concept of ‘Restorative Communities’ which seeks to engage teachers, businesses, faith leaders and individuals to manage conflict, enhance learning, prevent bullying and increase productivity, while developing better self-awareness and empathy towards others.”

Inspector Lara Richards, Community Safety said: “The introduction of the Community Resolution in Hertfordshire ensures that victims are at the heart of the way that we deal with low level crime and anti-social behaviour, where the offender fully admits what they have done and agrees to make amends for their actions.”

“By using restorative approaches, we can ask the victim what they would like to happen and ensure that they feel more involved in deciding the outcome.  We can now also offer restorative conferences to all victims of crime where there is an identified offender, no matter what the offence is.”

For any kind of RJ conference to take place, the offender must have admitted to the crime, and both victim and perpetrator must be willing to participate. This meeting takes place in the presence of an experienced facilitator, who supports and prepares the people taking part, whilst ensuring that the process is safe.

A meeting can be done face-to-face or if this is not the best way forward, the facilitator will arrange for the victim and offender to communicate via letters or recorded interviews.

RJ can be used for any type of crime and at any stage of the criminal justice system, including alongside a prison sentence.

Sarah’s Story

One such story features Sarah West, whose 15 year old Son, Jamie, was killed in a car accident when the driver who was driving dangerously, lost control of the vehicle.  She wanted to meet the person who caused the accident to tell him the impact it had on her life and expressed interest in Restorative Justice.

Sarah explains: “After the meeting I felt like a big weight had lifted off me. I had lots of anger, bitterness and lots of questions.”
“By doing this, it has made me a different a person and has made the closure of things a lot smoother. I’ll never get rid of the missing part of my life from losing my son, but it has made me move on and look forward into life now.”

During Restorative Justice Week, the PCC will share examples of successful Restorative Justice Conference videos on the website and through social media channels, Facebook and Twitter.

Kevin McGetrick, Head of Victims Commissioning at the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner said: “In appropriate circumstances Restorative Justice can be a powerful tool in addressing the emotional harm caused by crime. Victims get a voice, receive answers to the questions and feel empowered.”
“I would urge anyone who has been affected by crime and is experiencing difficulty in coming to terms with what has happened to them to get in touch with Beacon and enquire about Restorative Justice”.
“Anyone who is considering Restorative Justice can be assured the process is carefully supervised and managed by skilled and professional practitioners “
If you would like more information and to access the Restorative Justice Service, contact Beacon by calling 0300 011 5555 (calls charged at a local rate) or visit www.hertfordshirebeacon.org. Beacon is open every day 7am - 10pm.

Watch Sarah's Story here