The Magistrates’ Association has responded to today’s report of the Justice Select Committee into the provision of restorative justice. The core recommendation from MPs on the Committee is that there should be a consultation to assess whether victims of crime in England and Wales should have the legal right to access restorative justice. Subject to a feasibility assessment, this new entitlement for victims would potentially be the responsibility of Police and Crime Commissioners.
As the only independent charity representing the magistracy, the MA has been consistently supportive of the greater availability of access to high-quality restorative justice services, the core principle of which is that victims are able to meet or contact the person(s) convicted of the offence(s) in question. Restorative justice also applies to offenders wishing to make contact with their victims.
Commenting on the report, MA National Chairman Malcolm Richardson JP said: “We would certainly welcome broader availability of restorative justice in appropriate circumstances, but the victim must remain absolutely central to the whole process. When implemented effectively, victim-led and with a willing offender, restorative justice can be highly beneficial to the victim as well as the offender, and therefore to the administration of justice as a whole.
“The Ministry of Justice has said that it will look at the Select Committee’s proposals carefully. In doing so, we hope ministers will consider that in order for the benefits of restorative justice to be maximised, the quality and capacity of such services must be ensured. We look forward to the ministerial response."
A copy of the Select Committee’s report can be found here.