Restorative justice can be delivered at any stage of the criminal justice process including being part of any sentencing disposal. Indeed, when we look at the statutory purposes of sentencing and the goals of restorative justice we can easily identify common aims, particularly around making reparation and reducing reoffending. It can be used in sentencing as a useful additional tool that provides victims with a voice to share their personal impact whilst holding offenders to account enabling them to take responsibility. Restorative justice (RJ) week provides an opportunity for us to celebrate good practice and trail blazing initiatives across the country like the one delivered by Safer Communities in the North East with their Restorative Justice Court Worker and to look ahead at future developments and how we can continue to grow and build an evidence base demonstrating how RJ can be used in sentencing practice.
Becky Childs, Restorative Justice Manager from Safer Communities states:
“The informative research and tenacity of the Sentencing Academy in informing understanding of sentencing across England & Wales, enables those harmed by crime, working within the Criminal Justice System and the public, to be reliably informed about key legislation, victim rights and offender rehabilitation. These factors are paramount in shaping legislation, and further guiding effective sentencing decisions and responsivity to identified risk, need and impact of criminality.
In recently supporting the Academy’s seminar on ‘Contemporary Issues in Sentencing’ we were proud to promote the introduction of a dedicated Court RJ Coordinator in Teesside, the benefits of the role, and contributing factors, potentially impacting on individuals’ understanding of sentencing outcomes. We believe that Restorative Justice has a firm place within the Courts and welcome the opportunity for greater focus on victim care and the right for victims to have their voices heard and acknowledged, both within the process of sentencing, and throughout the implementation of the sentence imposed.”
Restorative Justice is an area of sentencing that the Sentencing Academy is keen to explore to help build understanding, contributing where we can to the evidence base to inform around its effectiveness in the sentencing process.