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Restorative Justice

Volume 535: debated on Tuesday 8 November 2011

We are committed to delivering more restorative justice across the system, ensuring that more victims have a chance to explain the impact of crime upon them and that offenders face up to the consequences. Many areas already use restorative approaches, and we are considering how we can increase capacity to enable local areas to provide more effective responses to crime and disorder.

I thank my right hon. Friend for that response. Both the youth offending team and the police in Swindon are using restorative justice procedures to very good effect, particularly in the sentencing process and as an alternative to prosecution. What specific plans does he have to support that invaluable work?

I agree with my hon. Friend about the value of that work, which can both provide enhanced victim satisfaction—victims are otherwise too often an afterthought in the process—and reduce reoffending rates. That was why the coalition agreement committed us to introducing neighbourhood resolution panels, which we intend to take forward. We have invited expressions of interest and had good interest in them, and we will set up pilots in the new year.

What steps will the Minister take to support restorative justice programmes in prisons, such as that offered by the Prison Fellowship’s “Sycamore Tree” programme?

It is important that we support restorative justice as a principle that applies across the criminal justice system, not just in any one part of it. The idea that offenders should make amends and, when victims want it, be required to confront their victims, is good, and where such schemes are successful we want to see them extended.