Offenders to face up to crime in new restorative justice scheme

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Victims of crime in South Yorkshire can now come face-to-face with their offender.

A new restorative justice scheme will mean victims can meet or communicate with the offender to explain the real impact of the crime.

South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings at the launch of Restorative Justice Awareness campaign. Picture: Andrew Roe

South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings at the launch of Restorative Justice Awareness campaign. Picture: Andrew Roe

They will also be able to ask questions and hear the offender admit what they have done.

Supporters say the scheme can help victims cope and recover in the aftermath of a crime.

Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings has been given funds to introduce restorative justice for people in South Yorkshire.

Evidence has proven that restorative justice can reduce re-offending by 14 per cent for those who take part and for every £1 spent on restorative justice, up to £8 can be saved in lowering the cost of re-offending.

But Supt Tim Innes said cost was not the only reason for the scheme.

“This is not a soft option, it’s not an alternative to court, it’s not a way out. It’s actually about facing up to what that individual has done.”

“Victims don’t often get that say in the court process so it’s about supporting them, letting them have their say and also helping them to move on.

“Crime levels going down is a secondary benefit in relation to what really matters – which is the victim.

“This is one of those rare opportunities where we have the chance to use funding purely for the benefit of the victims. It’s about doing the right thing for them.”

The scheme will be offered to victims through Remedi, which specialises in restorative justice services.

A new dedicated helpline has also been set up as well as a text message service.

Dr Billings said: “Restorative justice is a way of bringing together a victim of crime and the offender, where the offender is genuinely sorry for what they’ve done and the harm they’ve caused, and this we have found benefits both.

“Restorative justice brings the two together where they both want it.

“It can have considerable effect sometimes on both victim and offender.

“I think it was invented in Australia. When it first came over here 10 years ago there was very little evidence that it worked but we now know victims are overwhelmingly satisfied by being able to participate in this.”