West Yorkshire restorative justice service launched (11 Oct 2018)

The first ever county-wide restorative justice programme in West Yorkshire is today (11/10) being launched at Batley Town Hall.

Police and Crime Commissioner, Mark Burns-Williamson has commissioned the new service, investing £900,000 of funding over the next three years.

The contract with Restorative Solutions CIC will build on existing work, which has supported victims and perpetrators to engage with each other.

The aim is to achieve positive steps in a victim's recovery and help to prevent further offending.

Over 100 representatives from enforcement agencies and other key partners are coming together for the landmark event.

It includes victims of crime who will be speaking about their personal experiences of Restorative Justice.

West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Mark Burns-Williamson said it is ground breaking work that will have a real impact:

"Although this scheme has previously been available in pockets within the county, this expansion to a West Yorkshire wide service represents a huge step forward.

"There is clear evidence of the difference this approach has made and I have worked extremely hard over recent years to reach this vision in conjunction with police and key partners.

"It is important that victims experience the same level of support wherever they live in the county and have the opportunity to have a role in the process in conjunction with the criminal justice system.

"For instance, an acknowledgement of the harm an offence has caused and a reconciliation through rehabilitation is all some wish to see.

"Clearly, that depends on the victim and the particular circumstances, but it is crucial that we explore all the options around our approach.

"In doing so, we can generate greater victim satisfaction and put offenders on a positive path that deters future criminal behaviour in their community.

"The work we are doing also expands to Wakefield Prison and other prisons including HMP Leeds, where prison staff are helping to carefully manage restorative conferences, supporting both the victim and the offender."

West Yorkshire Police Assistant Chief Constable, Catherine Hankinson is attending today's event and said:

"Working with Restorative Solutions across West Yorkshire, we will seek to allow victims the chance to have a true voice within the criminal justice process.

"Restorative Justice has been shown to help reduce re-offending by making offenders understand the true harm they have caused.

"The practice is already used in some areas of England and Wales and ensures that victims, who are willing, are able to meet their offenders in order to explain the impact of the crime and to make offenders face up to their actions.

"It performs the vital function of empowering victims, their families, and communities to overcome the negative impact of potentially any crime type, the vast majority of victims who have taken part reporting a positive experience.

"We look forward to the new working relationship and the benefits the approach will bring to victims within West Yorkshire."

Gary Stephenson, Chief Executive, Restorative Solutions CIC added:

"Restorative Solutions welcomes the opportunity to deliver a Restorative Justice services across West Yorkshire with the support of the Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson and West Yorkshire Police.

"The service is aimed at giving victims a voice and answering the many questions they may have after being a victim of a crime.

"The service will integrate and partner with other victim and offender services across West Yorkshire ensuring that victims of crime get a high quality and safe opportunity to have their say.

"Restorative Solutions are an experienced provider and have pioneered many initiatives using Restorative Justice over the last fifteen years.

"The service was first developed in Bradford and is now available across West Yorkshire.

"If you have been a victim of a crime in West Yorkshire you can learn more by visiting www.rjwestyorkshire.org.uk or you can contact our service on 0800 783 1550."

© Copyright West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner 2019