Labour promises Restorative Justice Act and expansion of ‘youth pastors’

Labour promises Restorative Justice Act and expansion of ‘youth pastors’

In his big speech in March on “crime and anti-social behaviour” Gordon Brown made not so much as a hint at anything in the restorative justice field. We pointed this out, and suggested he was missing a trick.

The new Labour manifesto however promises a Restorative Justice Act:

“We have shown that Restorative Justice can increase satisfaction for victims and the police, and we will bring in a Restorative Justice Act to ensure it is available wherever victims approve it".

It also promises to support and promote ‘youth pastors’ (by which they mean initiatives like Street Pastors - a church initiative).

“We will expand US-style street teams which use youth pastors and vetted ex-offenders to reach out to disaffected young people”

And..

"Youth Conditional Cautions which focus on rehabilitation and reparation"

There was a 75-page Government strategy in 2003 but restorative justice has never featured in any of Labour's manifestos since 1997. Not surprising, because the tabloids still see anything restorative as ‘soft’.

Churches amongst others have been pushing the Government to take it more seriously for many years. As the Restorative Justice Consortium points out:

“Restorative Justice gives victims the chance to tell offenders the real impact of their crime, to get answers to their questions and to receive an apology. It gives the offenders the chance to understand the real impact of what they’ve done and to do something to repair the harm. Restorative Justice holds offenders to account for what they have done, personally and directly, and helps victims to get on with their lives."

RJ has in some projects shown greater satisfaction for victims of crime and a great way of tackling petty crime and anti-social behaviour, cuts in re-offending rates and cost savings, and a decrease in fear of crime (a big theme of Brown's speech today)

But restorative justice is becoming much more mainstream. The Lib Dems have been are much bolder, and even the Tories are making noises in that direction, noting the high involvement and satisfaction of victims.

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