For Immediate Release
London, 26th Jan 2024 - In the latest debate on the Victims & Prisoners Bill on the 24th January in the House of Lords, Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle highlighted the paramount significance of restorative justice in the criminal justice system. RJ4All’s work and research was referenced in the House of Lords debate on the Victims and Prisoners Bill.
The introduction of restorative justice to the bill witnessed substantial cross-party support from key figures, including Baroness Bennett, Lord Garnier, Lord Harries of Pentregarth, Lord Blunkett, Baroness Gohir, Baroness Newlove, and Baroness Hamwee. Their collective endorsement signifies a united commitment to advancing the cause of restorative justice.
Dr. Theo Gavrielides, RJ4All Founder and Director said: “This is a unique opportunity for the government to get it right for victims of crime. The House of Lords send a clear message that the light touch of the Victims’ Code is not adequate and that victims deserve more including restorative justice. I am glad that our institute was able to support the debate and provide much needed evidence of need”.
Baroness Bennett emphasised the non-partisan nature of the restorative justice amendments, stating, "This is a conviction, understanding, and belief that goes right across the political spectrum." She underscored the importance of including restorative justice provisions in the bill, expressing dissatisfaction with the current notion that it is a discretionary add-on. “If we look at what the Government are offering now, in their wording is a suggestion that restorative justice is nice when we can find the resources, so you might be lucky enough that there might be the resources available in your area or you might not. That is simply not good enough.”
Lord Harries of Pentregarth, expressing his support, stated, "I will not repeat what I said at Second Reading in favour of restorative justice; instead, I will make two very brief points. First, research has shown that restorative justice is effective. It has been a benefit in two ways: one is the impact it has on the offender, reducing the likelihood that they will reoffend; the other is the impact on the victim. For example, restorative justice has been shown to bring satisfaction to victims in reducing stress and trauma. Interestingly, victims found that apologies were more important than restoration.”
Bennett also stressed the value of restorative justice not only based on both research but also the practical experience of application from RJ4All: “Going through my Amendments 16, 22, 32 and 52, I acknowledge that in preparing for this I had considerable support from the Restorative Justice for All international institute.” Notably, she endorsed RJ4All's definition of restorative justice ethos: “This is a process that enables those harmed by crime and those responsible for their harm, if they both freely consent, to participate actively in the resolution of matters arising from the offence.”
In advocating for restorative justice to be included in the Victims Bill, RJ4All has submitted its full proposal for amendment and an Open Letter. These expressed key recommendations: a definition for restorative justice in the law, the victims' right to know and opt for restorative justice, and clear guidance for restorative justice service providers. These proposals were deliberated upon during the recent debate. Refer to our previous press release for more details.
The continuation of the debate, scheduled for 31st January 2024, and the upcoming Report Stage in a week present opportunities to build on the momentum generated and further advocate for the official inclusion of restorative justice in the Bill. RJ4All is in the process of preparing a Joint Advocacy Letter, incorporating voices from like-minded organisations, supporters, and stakeholders, to champion a comprehensive and effective framework for restorative justice within the Victims and Prisoners Bill.
We believe in collective voices and invite you to join our effort in promoting the values of restorative justice. Please contact us to contribute your voices to our Joint Advocacy Letter, or share the press release and participate in our online conversation.
Read our previous Press Release: A victims’ right to Restorative Justice amendment tabled for the Victims and Prisoners Bill
Information for editors:
Restorative Justice for All (RJ4All) is a charitable, user-led international institute with a vision of a world that embraces the restorative justice values of power sharing, fairness, equality, dignity and respect, and where power abuse is rooted out. We pursue our vision by using the power of dialogue, education, sports and art, as well as the practices of restorative justice.
More information can be found at: https://www.rj4all.info/aboutus
Restorative Justice: At RJ4All, we consider Restorative Justice as an ethos with practical goals, among which is to restore harm by including affected parties in a (direct or indirect) encounter and a process of understanding through voluntary and honest dialogue. Restorative justice adopts a fresh approach to conflicts and their control, retaining at the same time certain rehabilitative goals.
More information can be found at: https://www.rj4all.info/what-is-restorative-justice