West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson is launching a new fund to support Restorative Justice projects in the West Midlands.
Grants totalling £375,000 will be available to organisations who work with victims, enabling them, if they want to face their offender, to explain how the crime has affected them. Restorative Justice (RJ) also gives ex-offenders the opportunity to make amends for their crimes and repair the harm they have done – by apologising, returning stolen money, or undertaking community service.
Ahead of the launch of the new initiative, the Police and Crime Commissioner visited Midland Heart housing association, one of the first recipients of a RJ grant, to see how the money has made a difference to local residents. The visit coincides with National Restorative Justice Week (16-23rd November)
Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson said: “Restorative Justice can make a massive difference to victims of crime. Although you can never truly turn back the clock when a crime has occurred, Restorative Justice can go a long way to helping victims come to terms with what has happened and challenges offenders to rethink their behaviour. Such meetings only happen when they are requested by the victim and they are deemed safe to go ahead.
“Across the West Midlands we already have some excellent Restorative Justice groups who help facilitate the process. This new funding will help even more victims to access this support so that they can hopefully obtain closure and move on with their lives.”
Restorative Justice has been funded by the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner since 2013 when funding was transferred over from the Ministry of Justice.
The initiative often involves a conference, where a victim meets their offender face to face. Sometimes, when a face to face meeting is not the best way forward, the victim and offender will communicate via letters, recorded interviews or video instead.
Before a meeting can take place:
• The offender must accept responsibility for the crime.
• Both the victim and the offender must be willing to participate.
• An RJ facilitator must decide it is safe for both the victim and offender to be involved in the process.
Midland Heart has already run a pilot RJ project, thanks to a previous £65,000 grant from the Police and Crime Commissioner. As a result, the housing and care association has been able to offer support to a number of its residents and, since the introduction of the initiative, the association has seen a significant drop in low level crime such as anti-social behaviour.
Nigel Collumbell, Head of Neighbourhoods at Midland Heart said: “The Restorative Justice Project has been a great opportunity to work with our partners to resolve issues of low-level crime and antisocial behaviour much earlier on, preventing neighbours from becoming embroiled in bigger conflicts.
“We would highly recommend this approach to others as it fosters better community relations and changes the way neighbours interact with each other. This is a great example of the added value that housing associations can bring.”
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