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How can we improve victims’ satisfaction and confidence in the criminal justice system?

For the criminal justice system to function effectively, it must have the trust, confidence and cooperation of victims. Yet around one in three victims report being dissatisfied with the way their case was handled, and around half say that they are not confident in the effectiveness or fairness of the criminal justice system. We also know that while people from certain ethnic minority groups are more likely to be victims of crime, they’re less likely to access support 

Restorative justice, a voluntary process which brings together victims and the person who committed the crime to address harm, can improve victim satisfaction and wellbeing and reduce reoffending. But the latest data shows that only 1 in 20 victims are given the opportunity of restorative justice. 

We advocate for a greater focus on the needs of victims from minority groups and call for the increased use of restorative justice. 

Our recent work:

The Victims’ Law and the Victims’ Code

We contributed to the Victims’ Commissioner’s proposals for a new Victims’ Law, calling for better access to restorative justice and more focus on the needs of young and Black, Asian and minority ethnic victims. Read comment on the proposals from CJA Director Nina Champion. 

We also responded to the government’s consultation on improving the Victims’ Code. We called for the right to be referred to a restorative justice service, which the government subsequently included in the revised code. 

Black, Asian and minority ethnic victims of crime

We held a roundtable to discuss the specific needs of Black, Asian and minority ethnic victims and what more can be done to support them. Attendees discussed commissioning arrangements for specialist services; the need for cultural competence in the criminal justice workforce; how low trust in police hampers access to support services and more. 

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Responding restoratively to COVID-19

In this report, restorative practitioners and academics discuss how restorative justice has continued throughout the pandemic to support victims of crime. The report also looks at how restorative practices and approaches can help society recover from the impact of the pandemic. 

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Routes to recovery

In the summer of 2020, we brought together members to discuss challenges during the pandemic and what is needed for recovery. Members discussed how they have supported victims remotely; the rise of domestic abuse and the renewed focus on the link between domestic abuse and female offending; the need to clear the criminal case backlog while also ensuring victims retain their rights in court, and more. 

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Restorative justice across England and Wales

We studied the use of restorative justice across England and Wales in our report ‘A journey of learning, growth and change’, finding that victims face a postcode lottery when it comes to accessing restorative justice. We then made a series of recommendations to increase awareness and use of restorative justice. 

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