Select Committee on Home Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 100-104)



  100. Finally, on restorative justice, do you have any research data which shows the relative success or failure of the pilot schemes?
  (Mr Ainsworth) I am not in a position to talk to you about research on this, I am afraid.
  (Ms Casey) I do not have a statistic we can throw at you. We will go away and let you have that if that is helpful. What I do know from memory is that the Youth Justice Board have been doing this and it shows if people face the people in the community then it works, particularly for young people. They already have something like 5,000 lay panel members, and referring people to the Community Panel is proving successful. I cannot tell you what the statistic is, so we will let you have that separately.

  101. If it is proving successful, is there scope for increasing restorative justice schemes?
  (Mr Ainsworth) It is an area we are particularly keen to explore. Historically we have got a pretty poor attitude in this country towards community sentences of all kinds. The public think that they are soft options, even when they are not. They are effective measures of restorative justice which could build confidence among the wider community if the sentencing is appropriate. It can be a most effective, most appropriate function in many circumstances. If you have messed up the area, if you have strewn rubbish all over the place, graffiti, criminal damage and all the rest of it, why not put right exactly what you have done and do it in front of the community where you have done the damage? It is a win:win, is it not? If the community can actually see the vandal putting right the vandalism, there is a benefit on both sides.

Bob Russell

  102. Perhaps we could bring back the stocks and pillories!
  (Mr Ainsworth) The stocks and the pillories are not restorative justice, are they? In what way did putting somebody in a set of stocks put right the damage that they had done to the community in which they were living?

  103. Humiliation was what it was all about.
  (Mr Ainsworth) What are we saying here? That it is humiliating for somebody who has destroyed a part of the community in which they live to be seen fixing what they have damaged and destroyed. Where is the humility in that? If there is humility in that then it is an appropriate way of humility, is it not? If they have behaved in a shameful way, why should they not be put in a shameful situation? If we are talking about them repairing the damage that they have done, I see absolutely no problem with it at all. I am fairly robust on it and am looking to develop this policy as rapidly as we can.

  104. I fully endorse all those points you make. I was putting a provocative question to you. I have no problem with what you have said.
  (Mr Ainsworth) Maybe it was a provocative answer. I do apologise.

  Chairman: On that note, we shall conclude. Minister, you have impressed us all with your mastery of the subject in such a short time. Ms Casey, thank you very much indeed. The session is closed.

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