Restorative justice Contents

3The effectiveness of the restorative justice landscape

The objectives of the Ministry of Justice Action Plan

19.Witnesses to our inquiry were broadly supportive of the high-level objectives of the Ministry of Justice Action Plan.39 The Action Plan has three objectives; equal access, awareness and understanding, and good quality.40 Vera Baird stressed to us there had been a shift in approach for restorative justice, which had moved from being “historically” offender-led to being focused on victims.41 Michael Spurr, the Chief Executive of NOMS, told us:

We are now very clear that it is about victim satisfaction, from a victim-initiated point, even where we would not necessarily have targeted resources because we thought it was the best way of tackling reoffending.42

The then Minister for Policing, Fire and Criminal Justice and Victims, Rt Hon Mike Penning MP, also emphasised the focus on victims, telling us “Putting victims at the front of the criminal justice system is absolutely vital.”43

20.We support the aims and objectives of the Ministry’s Restorative Justice Action Plan. In particular we welcome the Ministry’s focus on ensuring restorative justice services are high quality and victim-focused.

Equal access

21.The Ministry of Justice envisages under its Action Plan victims having access to good quality restorative justice at any part of the criminal justice system regardless of the type of offence, the age of the offender or their geographic location.44

Geographic access

22.Because the delivery of restorative justice services is not mandatory, their availability is inevitably subject to the regional buy-in of bodies responsible for commissioning restorative justice. We received evidence of numerous organisations across the system who had made a strong commitment to delivering high quality restorative justice. Greater Manchester Police explained that restorative justice is their most commonly used alternative to a charge/summons;45 Leeds Restorative Hub made reference to HMP Leeds and Leeds YOS, both of whom have achieved the Restorative Services Quality Mark46 and several Police and Crime Commissioners made submissions about the nature and quality of the services provided in their area.47 A recent mapping exercise of restorative justice provision commissioned by the Restorative Justice Council concluded that such activity is growing and becoming increasingly coordinated.48 Despite this, it is clear that service availability still varies by area. The Criminal Justice Alliance described the availability of restorative justice services as being a “postcode lottery”.49 Restorative Solutions told us that “the reality is that there are currently large areas of England and Wales where an RJ service is not available to victims”.50 The Victims’ Commissioner’s recent review into restorative justice provision also found that the services accessible varied by PCC area.51 In oral evidence the Minister explained to us that the Ministry monitored PCC spending against grant allocations but it had no plans to assess the effectiveness of this spending, citing the recent reports produced by the Victims’ Commissioner, the Restorative Justice Council and Why me?52 In a follow up letter we received on 30 June, the Minister helpfully provided us with an annex of how PCCs had spent their grants in relation to restorative justice.53 In his letter the Minister stressed that some PCCs also funded RJ services through their main policing grant and the annex would therefore not represent a comprehensive picture. In their report on spending by Police and Crime Commissioners, Valuing victims, Why me? argue that there needs to be transparent and publicly available information on how money on restorative justice is being spent by PCCs and whether value for money is being achieved.54

23.Progress has been made in expanding the availability of restorative justice service across England and Wales. While we appreciate that some variation in restorative justice provision is inevitable, the objective of equal access regardless of geographic location has not yet been achieved.

24.Information relating to how Police and Crime Commissioners are spending money allocated to them for restorative justice is helpful in assessing progress being made against the Ministry’s Action Plan. We recommend the Ministry works with Police and Crime Commissioners to publish information on how money is being spent to provide restorative justice on a yearly basis. The first such publication should be in the Ministry’s Action Plan progress report.

25.In their written submission, the Office of the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner advocated ring-fenced funding for restorative justice in order to prevent the “post-code lottery” nature of the current system.55 Vera Baird QC also suggested that, if the Ministry wanted to focus PCCs’ attention on providing restorative justice services, ring-fencing the funding to PCCs “would be a good thing to do”.56 The Minister was firmly against such a proposal; he argued:

It is wrong to assume that there is only one way of doing this, which is to ring-fence it and say, “Right, you must spend all of that within the year. That’s the only way you can spend it.” We know that that money is spent wrongly at times.57

In his letter of 30 June the Minister further stressed that because of the fact that restorative justice requires the voluntary agreement of the offender, it is difficult to properly allocate indicative budgets.58

26.We understand the attraction of ring-fencing funding to ensure that Police and Crime Commissioners spend money on restorative justice provision, but we agree with the Minister that there are serious difficulties with such an approach. In particular, due to the entirely voluntary nature of participation in restorative justice, it is difficult to predict with certainty how much should be allocated to it. We recommend that the Ministry continue to provide long-term funding for restorative justice to Police and Crime Commissioners, but this money should remain part of a wider pot of funding for victims’ services to provide PCCs with the flexibility to meet local needs.

Different stages of the criminal justice system

27.The Action Plan calls for victims to have access to restorative justice services at every stage of the criminal justice system. Indeed the Crime and Courts Act 2013 made explicit that sentencers can adjourn cases to allow for pre-sentence restorative justice to take place.59 Despite this, opportunities seldom exist for restorative justice provision in all parts of the criminal justice system. The Victims’ Commissioner found that some PCC areas only offer restorative justice services at certain stages of the criminal justice system and in particular post-conviction.60 Gary Stephenson, the Chief Executive and Director of Restorative Solutions CIC, pointed out that the ambition for restorative justice to be available in all parts of the criminal justice system was impeded by tensions within Government policy:

Basically, the legislation says that a sentencer can adjourn or defer sentence for the purpose of a restorative conference. That conference takes place within six weeks. Its outcome is then reported back to the sentencer, so that they can make a smarter sentencing plan. That has been absolutely snookered by the fact that the Courts and Tribunals Service has introduced Better Case Management, which practically outlaws any adjournments or deferments.61

28.The goal to make restorative justice available to victims at every stage of the criminal justice system is a laudable one, but further work is need before it will be a reality. The Ministry should consider if there are tensions between the aims of the Action Plan and wider criminal justice policy, particularly in relation to any tension between provision of pre-sentence restorative justice and the requirements of Better Case Management.

Types of offence

29.Although the Action Plan has called for restorative justice not to be excluded from particular types of offence, we have heard evidence that this is in fact happening. The Victims’ Commissioner has found that PCC areas can be broadly split into three categories; the first offer restorative services irrespective of the offence, the second do not pro-actively offer RJ for cases of domestic abuse, hate crime or sexual offences but provide them on victim request, and the final category exclude RJ for those types of offences.62 The areas that provided restorative justice in such cases subject them to heightened risk assessments.63 The recent mapping exercise from the Restorative Justice Council confirmed that some service providers exclude certain types of offences.64

30.The position that restorative justice should be available regardless of the type of offence (subject to risk assessment) has proved controversial, particularly for domestic abuse, sexual offences and hate crime. Women’s Aid provided the following explanation of the concerns felt about restorative justice in domestic abuse:

Domestic abuse is a serious and violent crime with often long-lasting devastating impact on the victim. The majority of victims will experience coercive control and have their mental health impacted by the abuse. For many victims it will have been going on for many years and will have long term effects on their lives and in some cases survivors may experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or other related illnesses. It is for these reasons that restorative justice can be potentially harmful for victims of domestic abuse and can be another way for a perpetrator to continue their control and abuse.65

31.Refuge argued that restorative justice is never appropriate in cases of intimate partner violence. In particular they raised concern that it would provide offenders with a means of maintaining control and that, for example, facilitators might not be familiar with what a particular look or gesture might mean.66 The then Home Secretary, Rt Hon Theresa May MP, recently criticised the use of restorative justice by police in cases of domestic violence, saying that it does not follow “common sense” to “sit vulnerable victims” in the same room as the perpetrator.67 When we put these comments to the Minister, Rt Hon Mike Penning MP, he said:

The Home Secretary was absolutely right to make the comments that she made. The police are on a journey as well, particularly around domestic abuse. Some would argue that they are not far enough down that journey. This was a Home Secretary with a size 10 boot saying that the mindset that was there before has to change. I reiterate that it is absolutely wrong for anybody, whether it be the police or any other part of the criminal justice system, to push and cajole someone into restorative justice. It has to be right for them as part of a package. As the Home Secretary said, it should not mean putting you in a room with the perpetrator. That must have been horrendous.68

32.While acknowledging the risks, several witnesses argued that the use of restorative justice had potentially significant benefits to victims, particularly in empowering them. Jon Collins quoted a victim of domestic abuse who had engaged in restorative justice as saying:

When I walked out of that meeting, I felt as if I could knock out Mike Tyson. I could have taken on anything or anyone. In the days and weeks afterwards, it was as if a massive weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I had been carrying it for so long that I did not even notice it anymore, so when it disappeared it was amazing. I felt completely empowered.69

33.We heard robust criticism of the approach taken in practice in cases of domestic abuse and sexual violence. Diana Barran, the Chief Executive Officer of SafeLives suggested that:

Deciding to make it available before ensuring that the system works properly in terms of training for facilitators and taking into account safety and potential re-victimisation feels like we might be putting the cart before the horse.70

Polly Neate, the Chief Executive of Women’s Aid told us that the whole practice of restorative justice was being applied differently in different areas and that women were being pressured into taking part in restorative justice “regularly”.71 A specific concern was raised that restorative justice was being used inappropriately by some police forces. Professor McGlynn told us:

We find that all police forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are using what they call restorative justice or community resolutions in cases of domestic abuse, but the majority of those are street-level disposals. Our view is that we must never use that sort of street-level restorative justice or community resolution in cases of domestic abuse. Those might be some of the sorts of cases that are coming through to the women’s aid organisations, because you could easily have those sorts of coercion.72

A study drawing on freedom of information requests by Professors McGlynn and Westmarland found that “Level One”73 restorative justice was being used in cases of domestic abuse by police forces.74 This is despite police guidance expressly stating that it should not be used in such cases.75 The Minister told us here was “aware of that concern” and:

It is fundamentally wrong if officers are doing that. I say that as the Police Minister, as well as the Criminal Justice Minister. It is happening less and less, but there is still concern about it. The College of Policing has to get its guidance and training right the way through to the guys and girls on the frontline, as they deal with these issues.76

34.It is a matter of great concern to us that “Level One” restorative justice is being used by police forces in cases of domestic abuse. This risks bringing restorative justice into disrepute. It is crucial that frontline police officers are fully informed of the risks for vulnerable victims in such cases. We recommend that it be reaffirmed that “Level One” restorative justice is not appropriate for cases of domestic abuse and the Ministry of Justice work with police forces to ensure officers have proper guidance to avoid using restorative justice in inappropriate circumstances.

35.In their written evidence SafeLives said that successful restorative justice in cases of domestic abuse is likely to be time - and resource - intensive. They called for it to be “genuinely victim-led” and include “robust and medium-term wraparound support for the victim.”77 Gary Stephenson noted that support and work done after the conference is just as important as the preparation for such cases.78 Polly Neate explained that Women’s Aid were currently working with the Restorative Justice Council to develop specific training for restorative justice facilitators in cases of domestic abuse.79 The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Somerset suggested that the Ministry of Justice should fund training for those working with victims of domestic abuse and sex offences.80

36.We agree in principle that restorative justice should be available for all types of offence. While restorative justice will not be appropriate in every case, a bright-line exclusion rule is contrary to the aims of the Restorative Justice Action Plan. Despite this, given the clear risks of restorative justice for certain types of offence, we understand why some service providers have restricted use of restorative justice for certain types of offence, particularly domestic violence and sexual offences. In order to help promote the use of safe restorative justice in such cases, we recommend the Ministry of Justice work with the Restorative Justice Council to create and fund training and promote guidelines of best practice for facilitators in such cases.

Age of the offender

37.The Restorative Justice Council in their written submission stated that “real progress” had been made in the youth justice system but there was “much to be done”.81 The Council’s mapping exercise of the youth justice system concluded that “our analysis of the data suggests that restorative justice is embedded within youth justice practice.”82 On the subject of the capacity of youth offending teams to provide restorative justice services, Lord McNally, the Chair of the Youth Justice Board, told us:

I think it has got better, but it is work in progress. We are a long way from where it is in Northern Ireland or in states in Australia where it is absolutely embedded in the system. We are still convincing people.”83

38.We heard some criticism of the current operation of referral orders,84 which was described to us as the principal way restorative justice is delivered in the youth system.85 The Standing Committee for Youth Justice (SCYJ) stated that, while referral orders could have a strong restorative element, they were often not run according to restorative principles and the victim was rarely involved.86 When asked why this was the case, Ali Wigzell, the Deputy Chair of the SCYJ, pointed to the requirement for youth offending panels to be convened within twenty days, including to access victims’ details, contact them and properly prepare them.87 Ben Byrne claimed that referral orders are a “hotch-potch, hoping for the best of both worlds.”88 Christine Walker-Booth, the Senior Manager of the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Youth Offending Service, contended that the twenty day time requirement for panels was in order to maximise the impact of the intervention, emphasising the focus is on offenders rather than victims.89

39. Both the SCYJ and the Restorative Justice Council argued that the model of youth restorative justice should be based around that found in Northern Ireland.90 The Northern Ireland Youth Conference service was launched in 2003 and referral can occur pre-conviction (diversionary youth conferencing) or post-conviction (court-ordered conferencing).91 A conference is attended by the offender, victim (or a representative), professionals and others. The purpose of the conference is to discuss the offence and its consequences.92 The SCYJ cited greater levels of victim satisfaction in Northern Ireland and lower youth reoffending rates.93 Ben Byrne described restorative justice as being “integral” in the Northern Ireland youth justice system while in the England and Wales system it operated as more of a “bolt on”.94 Ali Wigzell suggested that one of the reasons for the success of the system in Northern Ireland lay in its inclusion of highly skilled facilitators. She contrasted training received by those facilitators, who are trained for about nine weeks, with facilitators in England and Wales, who may have only had three days of training. She did, however, caution against seeing it as a perfect system, citing significant delays between offences being committed and conferences taking place.95

40.Restorative justice is more fully embedded in the youth justice system than in the adult system, but there is further progress to be made and particular effort should be made to improve victim participation. We recommend that the Government continue to embed restorative justice in the youth justice system and in particular consider following the model of youth conferencing used in Northern Ireland.

Data sharing

41.Several witnesses in our inquiry drew our attention to difficulties in data sharing. Thames Valley Restorative Justice Services said data sharing represented one of the main obstacles to universal access for victims.96 Ray Fishbourne told us:

It just is not working. I do not want to sound too pessimistic; maybe it will be delivered this time, but, currently, NPS cannot share information readily with CRCs, and CPS does not share information readily with NPS. It is incredibly difficult.97

42.Not all providers of restorative justice reported encountering difficulties with data sharing. Dan Molloy stated that the multi-agency hub models that included Cumbria and Lancashire CRC meant that they had not encountered issues.98 Similarly Jim Barton of the National Probation Service told us they “routinely share information.”99 The Office of the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner stated that while data sharing “is often a blockage”, this is overcome by a dedicated information sharing agreement signed by all participating agencies in Sussex Restorative Partnership.100 Ray Fishbourne suggested that even if local agreements are in place, difficulties are encountered when parties to a restorative justice process live in other areas and “you immediately hit the rocks once you start contacting other areas.”101

43.Why me? argued that simplifying the processes around information sharing was needed to improve the delivery of restorative justice.102 In their report on barriers to restorative justice, they advocated the creation of a national information-sharing template, endorsed and promoted by the Ministry of Justice.103 Lucy Jaffe explained to us the advantage of such a template:

As a small provider, we could point to a standard agreement that could be pulled down and used as a template for us to become a trusted third-party provider with both statutory agencies and commissioned, contracted-in agencies. It would mean that we did not have to reinvent the wheel. We deal with cases from all over the country. That is 43 cases, just in terms of the PCCs. We have all the community rehabilitation companies as well. It would make our lives a lot easier if we had one template.104

This recommendation was also made by the Restorative Justice Council.105 Ray Fishbourne was of the view that this could only be fixed via legislation mandating the sharing of information for the purposes of restorative justice.106 The Minister, however, argued that the legislative grounds for data sharing were already present and the key challenge was in “changing the mind-set” towards sharing data because too many say “we shouldn’t share, because of data protection” rather than “why shouldn’t we?”107

44.Data sharing has presented a persistent obstacle to the delivery of restorative justice. We agree with the recommendations of Why me? and the Restorative Justice Council that the Ministry of Justice should produce and promote within the criminal justice system an information sharing template to speed up the agreement of data sharing protocols. We do not recommend legislation at this juncture to require data sharing, but this is an option which should not be excluded if non-legislative measures do not prove effective. The issue of data sharing is one which the Ministry should make specific reference to in its Action Plan progress report.

Awareness and understanding

45.Public knowledge and understanding of restorative justice has shown modest growth in the past few years. Two polls commissioned by the Restorative Justice Council showed that in October 2013, 22% of people had heard of restorative justice and in April 2015 this figure had risen to 30%.108 A third poll commissioned by the Restorative Justice Council, taken between 22 April and 9 May 2016 showed that 28% of the public are aware of restorative justice. The same poll also found that 80% of respondents thought victims should have the right to meet their offender.109 The Restorative Justice Council acknowledged that there was a lot of room for progress in relation to awareness of restorative justice.110 The Ministry of Justice pointed to awareness campaigns it had engaged in during the Restorative Justice Weeks of 2014 and 2015, with Police and Crime Commissioners and local service providers.111 Gary Stephenson stated that these campaigns had an impact over the short time they were done but “one-off events” were not enough and there was a need for a “systemic, sustained campaign to make victims aware of their rights and of the opportunities that are there for them.”112 In a similar vein, several witnesses argued that the Ministry of Justice should engage in or provide funding for a national awareness raising campaign to improve the public’s understanding of restorative justice.113

46.Ray Fishbourne suggested to us that:

Raising awareness is on two levels. The MOJ has good reach into other criminal justice agencies, but they do not have any deep reach into communities. In Thames Valley, we find that following restorative justice week we have a spike in the number of people ringing us wanting to become volunteers and work with us, but we do not see any spikes in the number of victims. From some of the specialist projects in Thames Valley I am involved in, I know that getting into communities requires boots on the ground. 114

Brian Dowling argued that programmes to raise awareness had not been robustly tested to measure their impact. He cautioned against a “scattergun” approach to marketing which would reach individuals who were not victims at the time and may indeed have forgotten about restorative justice if they became a victim of crime.115 Dr Gavrielides told us:

Public awareness is one thing, but ads on buses will not work for restorative justice. It is not another L’Oréal product. If we are going to talk about public awareness, the money that the Ministry of Justice wants to invest should go to judges, the legal profession and the police—to those who should be offering restorative justice to individuals, so that they know first about restorative justice. Then we can expect the public to know about it.116

Are victims being informed about restorative justice?

47.As explained in Chapter 1, victims of adult offenders are entitled to receive information about restorative justice from the police or other organisation who delivers restorative justice services, and the police must also pass on a victims’ details unless they are asked not to do so. This means the police are well placed to inform victims of crime about restorative justice. Despite this, we received mixed views about how effectively entitlements under the Code are being delivered.

48.The APCC Standing Group for Supporting Victims and Reducing Harm argued that “victims are receiving their entitlements under the Code”117 and Cumbria and Lancashire Community Rehabilitation felt the entitlements under the Victims’ Code are working well.118 Conversely, Lucy Jaffe of Why me? argued that, despite the requirements on police to ensure victims are fully informed about restorative justice, and then pass on their details, “this is not happening.”119 The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Humberside stated that they have been “less than impressed” with the number of referrals being made into the restorative justice service by the local police service and suggested that this was because victims did not seem to be receiving information on restorative justice from the police.120 A recent report from the Victims’ Commissioner found that there was inconsistency in making victims aware of restorative justice, or that their details would be passed on to a service provider.121 Thames Valley Restorative Justice Service suggested that many police officers were unaware of their duties under the Code and that, anecdotally, they needed more information and support in how to have these conversations with victims.122 Charlotte Calkin, of the Restorative Justice Forum, claimed “… so many victims are still not being told about restorative justice; they do not know that it is an option.”123 When we asked the Minister about this, he stated that, while he had no means by which to assess how effectively the police were meeting their duties under the Code, “as with any other requirement that has to be met 100% of the time, there will be room for improvement.”124

49.It was also suggested to us that there was a role for other bodies within the criminal justice system in providing information about restorative justice to victims of crime. For example, Michael Spurr, the Chief Executive of NOMS, suggested that there was a role for Victim Liaison Officers:

If an offender is convicted, it is the responsibility of the victim liaison officers in the National Probation Service to make contact with victims and to ensure that they understand what their rights are. That provides an additional opportunity, when victims have gone through the court process, to reinforce that restorative justice is an option for them.125

Dan Molloy told us that victims should be able to go to anyone in the criminal justice system and that, ideally there would be someone “trained up” in police stations, probation offices, prisons and courts.126

50.The Ministry of Justice has an excellent reach with criminal justice organisations, but we are not convinced it is as effective in reaching victims, both potential and actual. While greater public awareness of restorative justice would be welcome, the priority must be in ensuring that victims of crime are properly informed about restorative justice and how they can access it. We recommend the Ministry, rather than engage in broad national awareness raising campaigns, should instead focus its resources on ensuring restorative justice is well understood by bodies within the criminal justice system who can then convey this information to victims. The Ministry should also provide support and funding to providers to enable local awareness campaigns.

51.While there are several bodies within the criminal justice system who can and ought to be able to provide victims with information on restorative justice, we believe the police are well placed to ensure victims are informed about restorative justice in the first instance. But we have received evidence of inconsistency in making victims aware of restorative justice. We recommend a rigorous system be introduced to improve compliance with the police’s requirement to inform victims about restorative justice. For example, forms for victim impact statements could have a box which reads “I have had restorative justice and how I can take part explained to me by the officer.” Other criminal justice bodies also have a role to play in improving victim awareness of restorative justice.

Quality

Standards of restorative justice provision

52.Concern was raised about the level of training and qualification of restorative justice practitioners. Thames Valley Partnership claimed that there were varying levels of quality of qualification, drawing our attention to “inconsistency” in the level of training facilitators receive. In particular they argued that NVQ Level 4 and RJC direct accreditation required greater coverage of practice skills than the BTEC qualification, but all allowed a practitioner to say they were “qualified”.127 To alleviate concerns of mixed quality restorative justice practice, the Restorative Justice Council suggested that it should be mandatory that those in receipt of statutory funding to provide restorative justice work towards the Restorative Services Quality Mark,128 Dan Molloy agreed that there should be mandatory quality standards129 and the Criminal Justice Alliance recommended that “all publicly-funded restorative justice services be required to demonstrate compliance with the Quality Mark’s standards.”130

53.Others were not convinced of the value of specific mandatory standards. Dr Gavriliedes argued that such a proposal would “kill restorative justice”131 and Gary Stephenson, while agreeing there should be mandatory standards, felt it was “too soon for the sector.”132 The Victims’ Commissioner preferred “working together” rather than laying down a “carte blanche mandatory framework”.133 In the Victims’ Commissioner’s report, one PCC described the Restorative Services Quality Mark as requiring “additional funds and time–at this stage both are better used to deliver the service.” The report further stated that some PCC areas used the principles of the Quality Mark even though they had not actually achieved it.134 The Association of Police and Crime Commissioners was of the view that if the Ministry of Justice Grant Agreements specified a minimum levels for RJ services, this would help improve consistency across the country.135 From the perspective of the National Probation Service, Jim Barton stated there were a number of quality assurance mechanisms available, such as contract management or service specification136 and Michael Spurr explained that NOMS had “a very clear set of specifications” but it was unclear whether they “matched the Restorative Services Quality Mark”.137

54.It would be too prescriptive to mandate that publicly-funded RJ services should attain the Restorative Services Quality Mark. Nevertheless there is value to ensuring a consistently high quality of delivery. We recommend that publicly-funded bodies should be required to demonstrate compliance with standards comparable to those Restorative Services Quality Mark (RSQM). We also recommend that NOMS review its service specifications against the RSQM.

Measuring effectiveness of restorative justice provision

55.Charlotte Calkin argued that the effectiveness of restorative justice provision was being measured by reference to inappropriate criteria. In particular she contended that assessing the success of restorative justice programmes simply by the number of victim-offender conferences failed properly to reflect the value victims gained from those services.138 She further suggested that Police and Crime Commissioners had generally been expecting “instant results”.139 Dan Molloy expressed concern to us that chasing targets, such as the number of victim-offender conferences, could end up “re-victimising the victim”.140 The Victims’ Commissioner was of the view if restorative justice was target driven, it would “take another turning and that is not what restorative justice is about.”141 Why me? along with several witnesses, agreed that focus on measurements such as victim satisfaction was preferable.142 Lambeth Mediation Service argued that important criteria “are victims’ satisfaction, reduction in victims’ fear of retaliation, victims’ and offenders’ sense of fairness.”143 The Office of the Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner recommended that the Ministry of Justice should establish guidance on success factors for restorative justice and provide both expert advice and funding to PCCs.144

56.It has been made clear to us that judging the effectiveness of a restorative justice programme simply by reference to the number of conferences held is a poor measurement and could encourage counter-productive incentives. We recommend the Ministry of Justice, with the Restorative Justice Council, publish and promote clear guidance for commissioners of restorative justice services of what constitutes a successful restorative justice scheme, including measurements relating to offenders and victims such as victim satisfaction.

Offender management services

The NOMS Capacity Building Programme

57.The NOMS Capacity Building Programme was launched in January 2012 and coincided with a time of great change in both prisons and probation. These challenges included the implementation of Transforming Rehabilitation, benchmarking in prisons and the introduction of Fair and Sustainable contract terms for prison officers.145 The programme comprised five days of training delivered by Restorative Solutions: a three day training course, followed by two mentoring sessions months after the training. The programme also included ‘Train the Trainer’ courses to train experienced facilitators with the skills to train others. The intention was to provide 100 five-day courses and 18 ‘Train the Trainer’ courses.146

58.By the end of July 2014, 74 three-day courses and 124 mentoring days had been delivered and the number of ‘Train the Trainer’ courses was downscaled from 18 to four, owing to the smaller number of conferences taking place.147 The independent evaluation of the programme found that 2,643 cases went through the scheme, of which:

59.While acknowledging the difficulties caused by ongoing reforms, the Ministry of Justice argued the programme was in fact a success, with over 150 conferences taking place, 77 staff trained as facilitators, 30 staff trained as trainers and increased awareness of services to victims and offenders.149 It also pointed to two legacy products, the “Wait ‘til Eight” guide, which provides eight checklists identifying critical elements of a successful restorative justice scheme, and the “Guide to Providing a Supportive Environment”, which provides prison governors with advice ensuring their prisons are able to facilitate external providers of restorative justice.150 The independent evaluation found that, while the programme would have been far more successful if it had not taken place during a time of great upheaval, there were benefits to the programme, in particular for the over 300 participants in restorative justice conferences and in increased awareness and support for restorative justice amongst staff and managers in prison and probation.151 Gary Stephenson described the programme as a success, saying:

Not only did we develop a capability-cum-capacity, but we conducted 153 face-to-face restorative conferences in the course of the programme. From our perspective, it was a success. It takes time to see the real successes coming through.152

60.Thames Valley Restorative Justice Services suggested that prisons and probation staff were paradoxically more aware of restorative justice now, but less able to deliver it. They further suggested that, in hindsight, the programme might have been more effective if it had focused on training facilitators in the voluntary sector and raising awareness among prison and probation staff.153 Two Offices of Police and Crime Commissioners told us that the Capacity Building Programme had assisted them in the creation of restorative justice hubs.154 Sussex said it helped “increase momentum” while Humberside said the programme was now fully integrated within their RJ hub. 155

61.The results of the NOMS Capacity Building Programme were hindered by concurrent organisational changes in both prisons and probation, but there were benefits from the programme, in particular the legacy products. In hindsight, it is likely the programme would have been more successful if it had focused on training voluntary sector workers.

62.The Ministry explained that there was a £175k underspend from the programme, owing to a reduced demand for training. This money came from the Monument Trusts’ funding and will be used to pilot a whole-prison approach to management of conflict based on restorative principles.156 This echoes a recommendation made by the Prison Reform Trust, that restorative principles should be applied to the prison estate more generally.157 Michael Spurr described the aim of the pilot to us:

It is being spent now, in agreement with the Monument Trust, to build a restorative approach to conflict resolution, effectively. Can we use restorative approaches in prisons to resolve some of the issues that are happening there in terms of violence and so on? We are piloting that at two establishments, Onley and Buckley Hall. It is due to report in 2017.158

63.We have made clear in previous reports our serious concern about levels of violence in prisons. We will therefore be particularly interested in the findings of the pilot of restorative approaches to conflict resolution in prisons.

The role of offender management services

64.The current landscape of restorative justice has led to confusion around the roles of various organisations involved in delivering or commissioning of RJ. This is particularly acute regarding the roles of CRCs and the National Probation Service. The Ministry of Justice, lapsing into thankfully rare bureaucratese, said in its written evidence that “the NPS has been working to identify its forward role within the partner-matrix of restorative justice delivery.”159 Jim Barton, a Deputy Director of the National Probation Service translated this for us as meaning that the National Probation Service did not see themselves as a provider of restorative justice. Rather, their role was two-fold; first, to promote restorative justice through their links with victims, and secondly to facilitate restorative justice by providing support to victims or managing offenders.160

65.The Office of Merseyside Police and Crime Commissioner explained to us that they had been contacted by a number of partners working with offenders seeking funding for restorative justice, and they suggested the Ministry clarify which agencies were responsible for offender-led restorative justice.161 Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Nottingham and Rutland Community Rehabilitation Company similarly recommended that the Government clarify what services PCCs and CRCs were expected to provide.162 The Restorative Justice Council’s recent mapping report found that the picture of restorative justice remains “unclear” following the Transforming Rehabilitation reforms.163

66.The Ministry of Justice is well placed to take a leadership role in restorative justice and set out a clear overall vision for how it expects restorative justice services to be delivered. We understand the Ministry will not wish to be too prescriptive on a matter primarily driven by local priorities, but we believe there is scope for a clear direction as to how the system is expected to work. We recommend that the Ministry of Justice, when publishing its Action Plan progress report, provide an explanation of how they envisage restorative justice taking place across the criminal justice system. This should include what the roles of different organisations are, how they interact with one another and what support the Ministry of Justice will provide them. Clarity is particularly important in relation to probation services.


39 Q73 [Ben Byrne, Ali Wigzell]; Restorative Justice Council, RJU0041; Restorative Solutions CIC, RJU0012

40 See para 4

41 Q9

45 Greater Manchester Police, RJU0036

46 Leeds Restorative Hub, RJU0035. The Restorative Justice Quality Mark is a quality mark administered by the Restorative Justice Council for restorative services who demonstrate they meet the Council’s Restorative Services Standards.

47 Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, RJU0028; Avon and Somerset Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, RJU0010; Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner and Restorative Cleveland. RJU0033; Merseyside Police & Crime Commissioner’s Office, RJU0009; Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, Humberside, RJU0006; Office of the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner, RJU0011

49 Criminal Justice Alliance, RJU0021, para 4

50 Restorative Solutions CIC, RJU0012

52 Ministry of Justice, RJU0060

53 Ministry of Justice, RJU0062

54 Why me? RJU0059

55 Office of the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner, RJU0011

56 Q9

58 Ministry of Justice, RJU0062

63 Ibid, para 6.2.6

65 Women’s Aid, RJU0027

66 Refuge, RJU0057

73 Guidance from the Association of Police Chief Officers describes Level One RJ as being “an instant or on-street disposal where police officers or PCSOs use restorative skills to resolve conflict in the course of their duties”

74 Professor Clare McGlynn and Professor Nicole Westmarland RJU0017; RJU0055

77 SafeLives, RJU0042

80 Avon and Somerset Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, RJU0010

81 Restorative Justice Council, RJU0041

84 A referral order is a court ordered disposal which, depending on the circumstances when it is available, may be either a mandatory or discretionary disposal. For most cases, where a young offender has pleaded guilty and it is their first offence, the court must make a referral order. Under a referral order an offender must make and comply with a contract agreed with a youth offender panel.

85 Standing Committee for Youth Justice, RJU0044

89 Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Youth Offending Service, RJU0043

90 Restorative Justice Council RJU0041; Standing Committee for Youth Justice, RJU0044

91 Jessica Jacobson and Penelope Gibbs, Making Amends: restorative youth justice in Northern Ireland, Prison Reform Trust, 2009

92 Standing Committee for Youth Justice, RJU0044

96 Thames Valley Restorative Partnership RJU0020

100 Office of the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner, RJU0011

102 Why me? RJU0032

105 Restorative Justice Council, RJU0041

108 Restorative Justice Council, RJU0041, para 20

109 Restorative Justice Council, 2016 Ipsos MORI Poll Summary

110 Restorative Justice Council, RJU0052

111 Ministry of Justice, RJU0024, para 7

113 Restorative Solutions CIC, RJU0012; Restorative Justice Council, RJU0041; Thames Valley Partnership, RJU0020

115 Mr Brian Dowling, RJU0054

117 Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, RJU0028

118 Cumbria and Lancashire Community Rehabilitation Company, RJU0053

120 Office of Police and Crime Commissioner for Humberside, RJU0006

122 Thames Valley Restorative Justice Service RJU0020

123 Restorative Engagement Forum Ltd, RJU0015

124 Ministry of Justice, RJU0060

127 Thames Valley Partnership, RJU0020, para 1.24

128 Restorative Justice Council, RJU0041

130 Criminal Justice Alliance, RJU0021, para 12

135 Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, RJU0028

138 Restorative Engagement Forum Ltd, RJU0015, para 7.3

139 Ibid, para 7.2

142 Why me? RJU0059; Q124

143 Lambeth Mediation Service, RJU0026

144 Avon and Somerset Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, RJU0010

145 Prison Reform Trust, RJU0031

146 Alexandra Wigzell and Mike Hough, The NOMS RJ Capacity Building Programme

A study of the quality of participant and implementation experiences, Institute for Criminal Policy Research, March 2015, p 1

148 Ibid, p 6

149 Ministry of Justice, RJU0024, para 14

150 Ibid, para 16

151 Alexandra Wigzell and Mike Hough, op. cit., p 60

153 Thames Valley Partnership, RJU0020, para 3.4

154 Restorative justice hubs are multi-agency partnerships of multiple stakeholders in or providers of restorative justice services

155 Office of the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner, RJU0011; Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, Humberside, RJU0006

156 Ministry of Justice, RJU0024; RJU0060

157 Prison Reform Trust, RJU0031

159 Ministry of Justice, RJU0024

161 Merseyside Police and Crime Commissioner’s Office, Para 2.12, RJU0009

162 Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Nottingham and Rutland Community Rehabilitation Company, RJU0051




© Parliamentary copyright 2015

18 August 2016