Northamptonshire Liberal Democrat prospective Police and Crime Commissioner candidate, Paul Varnsverry, plans to put Northamptonshire at the forefront of community-based justice schemes if he is elected and is looking to secure government support by speaking at his party conference next Tuesday.
Restorative Justice is an approach to repairing the harm to individuals and to society done by crime and antisocial behaviour, enabling victims to tell offenders the real impact of their crime, to get answers to their questions, and an apology. Restorative justice holds offenders to account for what they have done, helps them understand the real impact of what they’ve done, to take responsibility and make amends.
Paul Varnsverry said “Changes are under way which could see Restorative Justice adopted nationwide. I am in contact with Government Advisors and have made it clear to them that I want to put the victims of crime first and enable Northamptonshire’s residents to experience the same benefits that have occurred elsewhere in the country, where Restorative Justice has cut re-offending rates by up to 95% in some areas.
“Restorative Justice is not a “soft touch” approach to dealing with offenders – it is highly effective and the figures back this up. Offenders who have been through the process find it humbling and victims find it enables them to move on after what are traumatic experiences.
“As Police and Crime Commissioner for Northamptonshire, I would also want to see police officers given greater discretion to use Restorative Justice to deal with low-level crime and antisocial behaviour when it happens. Many victims of antisocial behaviour only contact the authorities when they are at the end of their tether, only to be told they may have to wait weeks or months whilst evidence is gathered. Use of restorative practices would enable swift justice and an earlier resolution to the problem.
“The initiative must be led by victims of crime and antisocial behaviour, however, and I would work with organisations such as Victim Support to ensure best practices are adopted and address the flaws in the present criminal justice system, which can re-victimise the victim.
“Restorative practices also have a role to play in our schools, enabling bullying and intimidation to be tackled effectively and instilling in young people a much clearer understanding of how such behaviour impacts on its victims. I would therefore work with partner authorities on this approach.
“If I am called to speak at the Liberal Democrat Conference next Tuesday, I will be pressing for Northamptonshire to be one of the first police areas to embed Restorative Justice within its county Police & Crime Plan, linking into my policies on Neighbourhood and Community Management and paving the way for Neighbourhood and Community Justice Boards; placing local people in the position where they can have real influence over how crime and antisocial behaviour in our communities are addressed.”
For more information on Restorative Justice, please visit http://www.restorativejustice.org.uk/