LRPT has a dedicated team of staff who deal exclusively with victims of crime.
The Victim Liaison Team work with victims – or their next of kin when applicable – of offenders sentenced to 12 months imprisonment or more for sexual and violent crimes. The team also contact victims of racially aggravated offences whatever the length of custodial sentence handed down by the Courts. Members of the team explain to the victim how a sentence works, exchange information concerning an offender’s progress in prison, represent the views of the victim at parole hearings and request additional licence conditions, where appropriate, to protect the victim.
“Restorative Justice is the process whereby those harmed by a specific crime and those responsible for it are brought into communication. This enables those affected by a particular incident to play a part in repairing the harm and finding a positive way forward.” Definition of Restorative Justice from the National Offender Management Service (NOMS).
LRPT launched its Restorative Justice programme in February 2013 as a specified activity to run alongside a community order. The specified activity is offered in both the city and county Courts. LRPT has devised a Restorative Justice Conference process that ensures the careful selection of participants and an appropriate and supportive environment for the victims. All the RJ facilitators have undertaken a three day training course followed by mentoring sessions. Each facilitator will manage five conferences within the first year of their training to develop and maintain levels of expertise.
Academic research suggests that, if undertaken appropriately, Restorative Justice (RJ) can reduce reoffending when delivered in both the community and in prisons – and result in high rates of victim satisfaction. Three quarters of the victims who took part would recommend the process to other potential participants.
Eligible participants are offenders who have pleaded guilty to offences of violence, domestic burglary and other offences of personally directed harm. This applies to high and medium risk cases and others, who are at risk of custody and whose offences have a personal victim. If the offender is considered suitable, the court report writer will liaise with the Restorative Justice Service to confirm that appropriate arrangements can be made to implement the Specified Activity Requirement.
RJ gives victims a unique chance to ask questions of the offender, to express their anger and explain how they have been affected by the crime. In many cases RJ enables victims to gain a real sense of closure, put the offence behind them and move forward. If the specified activity is ordered by the Magistrates, the offender will be contacted within 15 days of the sentence by the RJ facilitator to arrange an assessment meeting.
The RJ requirement involves taking part in at least four meetings which will include:
(1) An assessment meeting to explore the possibilities of making amends
(2) A preparation meeting to prepare for the reparation event, which could be a meeting with the victim, or some other form of reparation
(3) The meeting with the victim, or reparation activity, which may involve writing a letter of apology
(4) A review meeting with the Offender Manager and the RJ facilitator.