In this report we consider the effectiveness of restorative justice (RJ) provision across the criminal justice system. The push from the Ministry of Justice has been for high quality restorative justice to be available to victims at every stage of the criminal justice system irrespective of where they are geographically, the age of the offender or the offence committed against them and we support these objectives in this report. We have focused our analysis on the services currently available to victims.
We examine the evidence base for the effectiveness of restorative justice. We conclude that while undue reliance should not be placed on the statistic that £8 is saved for every £1 spent on RJ, there are benefits in both reductions in reoffending and in providing tangible benefits to victims.
Our attention was drawn to doubts around the use of restorative justice in cases of sexual offences, domestic abuse and hate crime. In particular we received submissions concerned with the appropriateness of restorative justice in cases of domestic abuse. While acknowledging the real and substantial risks, our view is that, while restorative justice will not be appropriate in every case, it should not be excluded simply by reason of the type of offence committed.
We found that restorative justice provision is currently subject to a “postcode lottery” and regional buy-in. While ring-fencing funding to Police and Crime Commissioners may appear superficially attractive, we do not believe budgets for restorative justice could be set in a reliable or sensible manner. Our other principal recommendations and conclusions can be summed up as follows:
18 August 2016