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‘No’ to Restorative Justice for Domestic Abuse says, Vera Baird

25th May 2016

Restorative Justice (RJ) has no place in domestic abuse cases says Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Vera Baird.

Commissioner Baird is backing comments made in Theresa May’s recent speech to the Police Federation, in which she raised concerns with RJ being used for victims of domestic abuse.

In her speech, Ms May said that she “does not believe it follows evidence or common sense to sit vulnerable victims across from perpetrators who for months and years may have destroyed their confidence, manipulated their mind, and beaten their bodies” – and Commissioner Baird, a long-time campaigner on domestic abuse issues fully agrees.

RJ is a process that brings together victims and offenders, enabling everyone affected by a crime to play a part in repairing the harm and finding a positive way forward and Commissioner Baird was recently praised in a national report for her delivery of RJ within Northumbria.

However, while she believes RJ can be very good for helping some victims to cope and recover from their experience, she does not believe it is suitable in all cases and is firmly against it being used in the context of domestic abuse.

Vera Baird, said: “There are many benefits with RJ, but it is hardly a one size fits all approach – far from it – and I find it very worrying if it’s being used in cases of domestic abuse. It would be an extremely rare request and something the Government shouldn’t even be exploring.

“The dynamics of intimate partner abuse are completely different from a one-off incident and I know many women’s organisations that support the victims of sexual and domestic violence who share my concerns that RJ would be a soft option for some offenders and would put pressure on female victims to forgive their abusers.

“With coercive control for example, which is a form of domestic abuse, many victims have already spent years living in a relationship where there has been an imbalance of power, risking a return in a  face to face session makes RJ undesirable.  It is difficult enough for victims to report Domestic violence and, if, after seeking help they are then faced with their abuser in an RJ meeting, that’s another reason for them not to tell anyone.  It would also be hard to tell whether or not the victim had got any restoration or was just being victimised, and we must not be putting victims of domestic abuse in a position where they could be re-victimised by their abuser – simple as that.”