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Recommitment to Restorative Justice service that empowers victims of crime and anti-social behaviour across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight

29 March 2023

The Police and Crime Commissioner, Donna Jones, has awarded a new contract at a showcase event today to continue to support victims and reduce reoffending.

Restorative Solutions has been running the service across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight for the last five years. The Police and Crime Commissioner re-tendered the service for another three year term, with the option to extend for a further two years, and the new contract with Restorative Solutions will start on 1st April 2023.

Restorative Justice (RJ) gives victims the opportunity to communicate with the person responsible for the crime, and allows victims to be heard. Evidence shows that 85% of victims who participate in Restorative Justice are happy with the process which also reduces reoffending by 14%. Both victims and offenders can initiate the service, which is completely free.

Donna Jones, Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “Many people feel their lives have been turned upside down when they have become a victim of crime, and Restorative Justice helps them feel in control, get answers to questions they may have, helping them move forward and feel less fearful of crime in the future.”

Hampshire and the Isle of Wight has one of the most inclusive Restorative Justice services in the UK. Offences of any nature are accepted as long as the victim or offender lives in Hampshire or on the Isle of Wight, or the offence was committed in either of the two counties. There is no time limit for people wishing to access the service, victims have engaged with Restorative Justice years after the offence was committed.

Case studies evidence the positive impact that Restorative Justice can have for both victims and those responsible for causing harm. In one local example, the harmer was heavily intoxicated and behaved in an aggressive and threatening manner towards a woman and her guide dog. The victim wrote to him as part of the restorative process saying the incident had made her feel vulnerable, she had lost her confidence and felt anxious, and she wanted the Restorative Justice process to be positive for them both to gain closure. The offender wrote back sincerely apologising and accepting his actions, and the victim describes how “it must have taken courage for him to write it”. Two years later, the victim contacted staff to say she was walking with her guide dog when the offender stopped her and introduced himself. She recalls how he apologised again, and that she found the experience heart-warming as it shows everyone can change.

In a second case study example, the offender had been sentenced to six years imprisonment for a residential burglary. During preparation the victim described the impact the offence had on her, and wanted to know whether she had been targeted and whether the offender would ever come back again. The restorative meeting took place at HMP Winchester where both parties explained what had happened, engaging in a wide ranging conversation about the impact the offence had and the future. The victim said “The process was brilliant, really eye opening. Has helped me to understand more of the crime committed and why it was committed”. Positive outcomes included “Sleep better at night; feel more connected to the person who committed the crime; have been able to share with others my positive experience; without this opportunity I would probably have held onto feelings of guilt for supplying the evidence which led to the conviction”. The offender said “Thank you. It’s great that the victim feels better and I was surprised by how understanding she was.”

Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary Assistant Chief Constable Robert France also joined today’s event which brought together staff from Restorative Solutions, RJ volunteers, prison and probation services, community safety and victim care professionals, as well as health officials. Three service users also attended.

Funding for the contract is £435K per year with the Police and Crime Commissioner providing £325K from the Ministry of Justice Victims Services Grant and a further £50K set aside to tackle offender initiated Restorative Justice and to provide mediation for neighbourhood dispute cases which result in repeated police call outs. Another £60K is from South Central Probation to provide support to Probation Practitioners and to engage those serving custodial and community sentences as part of their rehabilitation plans.

Donna Jones, Police and Crime Commissioner, added: “I am delighted to award Restorative Solutions a new contract so the Restorative Justice service can continue to empower individuals and be accessible to every victim of crime and anti-social behaviour irrespective of individual circumstances.

“Improving outcomes for victims is one of the priorities in my Police and Crime Plan, and I am committed to ensuring that all victims are given the opportunity to benefit from Restorative Justice.”

Kate Hook, Director of Restorative Solutions, said: “We are delighted to have been recommissioned for a further three years to deliver Restorative Justice for victims of crime and anti-social behaviour across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

“Victims will continue to be provided with the opportunity to communicate with those who have caused them harm, holding offenders to account for what they have done by helping them to understand the real impact of their behaviour.

“We will build on our existing relationships with referral partners across the area, including Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary, the Probation Service and Prisons, Community Safety Partnerships and mediation providers to ensure our service is both safe and effective for victims, offenders and the wider community.”

Sarah Mayson, the Commissioning and Partnerships Manager for South Central Probation, said: “South Central Probation are pleased to be working in partnership with the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Police and Crime Commissioner and Restorative Solutions to deliver Restorative Justice across the two counties.”