Vera Baird backs better access to RJ

Vera Baird
Vera Baird

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird supports improved access to restorative justice (RJ) and would welcome further consultation.

Ms Baird, who gave evidence at the Justice Select Committee’s first inquiry into the use of RJ in the criminal justice system, has welcomed last week’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 Ms Baird in April 2015, is regularly cited as a model through which RJ can be used as part of a victim’s recovery journey.

RJ 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.

Ms Baird welcomed the opportunity to give evidence and is pleased at the progress in the Northumbria force area.

She said: “While I welcome the Government’s commitment to providing long-term funding for RJ to PCCs, I do believe further consultation with the Ministry of Justice 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.

She added: “I am afraid that I disagree with the committee’s recommendation not to ring-fence funding for RJ.”