This is the archived version of Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner. To view the new website click here
Banner Image

PCC Vera Baird QC supports improved access to RJ and would welcome further consultation

1st September 2016

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Vera Baird QC, who gave evidence at the Justice Select Committee’s first inquiry into the use of Restorative Justice (RJ) in the criminal justice system, has welcomed today’s report from the Committee which calls for improved victim accessibility to quality RJ.

Earlier this year, the Committee came together to examine the effectiveness of RJ and how it is delivered. Northumbria and its independent victim referral service Victims First Northumbria, set up by Commissioner Baird in April 2015, is regularly cited as a model through which RJ can be used as part of a victim’s recovery journey.

Restorative Justice is a process that brings together victims and offenders, enabling everyone affected by a particular incident to play a part in repairing the harm and finding a positive way forward.

Vera Baird QC, said: “I welcomed the opportunity to give evidence to the committee. I am pleased that we making good progress here in Northumbria, with VFN working in particular with the Community Rehabilitation Company who assess the defendant’s suitability and commitment whilst VFN approaches the victim. However there is still a job to be done both locally and nationally and I welcome the focus that the committee has brought to the issue.

“As this report acknowledges, the MoJ needs to focus resources in ensuring restorative justice is well understood by bodies within the Criminal Justice System (CJS), so information about it is conveyed clearly to victims.

“While I welcome the government’s commitment to providing long term funding for RJ to PCCs I do believe further consultation with the MoJ to help improve the accessibility and quality of restorative services is required.  We need to determine where it’s use is appropriate or not.

“For instance it would be an extremely unusual case where restorative justice is suitable for victims of domestic abuse. Such a victim may have experienced ongoing coercive and controlling behaviour over a number of years. It would be difficult for even an expert to know if this effect has been overcome and whether or not they are acting on their own desire to engage with RJ and at their own free will. Theresa May has also previously rejected this idea herself, stating quite clearly that it ‘follows neither 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’.

“I am afraid that I disagree with the committee’s recommendation not to ring fence funding for Restorative Justice. It seems contradictory to say this is because there is insufficient capacity to justify ring fencing when the realistic point is that unless RJ is ring fenced and so literally driven by funding, it may continue to be the exception rather than the rule for suitable cases. It is not always a straightforward process nor an obvious route to take  and it has not  developed as much as it should, over the last 30 years despite being a known option.

MoJ research has found that 85% of victims that have participated in RJ are satisfied with their experience. It also found the process was associated with an estimated 10 – 14% reduction in the frequency of re-offending.

To find out more about Restorative Justice and how it can help please visit: