The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has opened his new £1.3m restorative justice programme as he brought together representatives from the Metropolitan Police Service and criminal justice agencies at a special summit to insist more is done to improve victims’ services.
Londoners who have been affected by crime have the chance to meet their offender, if they wish to, at every stage of the criminal justice service through the Mayor’s Restore:London programme – an approach which has already proved successful in helping victims to recover from their experiences. Sadiq announced the funding for the £1.3m scheme last year.
Last year, there were approximately 740,000 victims of crime in London according to Met police data, but around a quarter of trials were classed as ineffective due to the victim or witness not attending or withdrawing from the process.
At the QEII Centre in Westminster, the Met Police, Victim Support, the Crown Prosecution Service, HM Courts and Tribunals Service will hear powerful testimony from victims of crime about their personal experiences, and from academics about the impact that trauma can have on witnesses.
Professor Louise Ellison, Director of the Centre for Criminal Justice Studies, University of Leeds, said: “Crime can have a devastating effect on victims. A criminal justice system which truly had victims’ interests at its heart would attend more closely to the psychological impact of crime. As it stands, current trial processes often conspire to exacerbate rather than ameliorate crime-related trauma amongst a broad constituency of victims. It is to be hoped that events such as this Victims’ Summit will prompt a review of the way the criminal justice system interacts with victims of crime.”
The Mayor’s Office for Policing And Crime (MOPAC) appointed Restore: London, a non- profit consortium led by social business Catch22, to develop the London-wide initiative last year. Together with key partners, the consortium aims to raise awareness of restorative justice among victims and offenders, improve access to services and victim satisfaction, increase referral speed and develop information-sharing between agencies. Restore: London, which is mainly comprised of people who have themselves been victims of crime, will share evidence and insights with key partners including Police and Crime Commissioners across England and Wales.
Chris Wright, Chief Executive Officer, Catch22, which leads the Restore: London consortium, commented: “We are delighted that The Mayor’s Office have recognised that restorative justice is a powerful strategy for helping people recover from crime. Our team are currently working hard with both victims and practitioners to map the availability and quality of provision across London. This is an opportunity to build a truly ground breaking, evidence led programme and to make sure that victims can access consistently high quality restorative justice services at every stage of the criminal justice cycle.”
Metropolitan Police Service Assistant Commissioner, Patricia Gallan, said: “The Metropolitan Police Service is encouraged by the Victims’ Summit and looks forward to working closer with our partners to give an increased level of support to all victims of crime.
“As police officers, we touch people’s lives at their worst moments – when they are facing a crisis, in their deepest sorrow and even in despair. We often take control for them when they are feeling frightened, isolated and in need of support. We understand that we must do so, with respect, empathy and compassion. We must listen to them.
“Therefore the Met remains committed to placing victims at the centre of what we do and as every good officer will tell you, it remains one of the main reasons for joining the service – to help them, to bring offenders to justice, to support victims in dealing with terrible situations and ultimately to ensure there are fewer victims in the future.”