HC Deb 15 March 2004 vol 419 cc146-7W
Mrs. Curtis-Thomas

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department(1)whether restorative justice is used within the justice system; [155338]

(2) what research he has conducted into the(a)effectiveness and(b)viability of restorative justice. [155337]

Paul Goggins

Restorative justice brings victims (who wish it) and offenders into a process of managed communication in order to repair the harm caused by the offence.

It is an integral part of a number of interventions in the youth justice system. Final Warnings are increasingly administered restoratively and Referral Orders, rolled out nationally in April 2002, are based on restorative principles.

In the adult justice system, several police forces facilitate restorative cautions and the Criminal Justice Act 2003 will introduce the new conditional caution, planned for use later this year, which police will be able to administer restoratively. Work has also been carried out in a number of probation areas and in several prisons.

The Government are keen to build on these developments.

There is already strong evidence that victims benefit; studies suggest that at least 75 per cent. of victims who take part in restorative justice are glad they did so. Research into the Referral Order has shown that victims' experiences were "overwhelmingly positive".

International studies and early evidence from the United Kingdom about the effects on re-offending is encouraging but inconclusive. There is a need for further research, in particular regarding the effects for different offence types. This is why, as part of the Crime Reduction Programme, the Home Office funded three pilot schemes to test the effectiveness of restorative justice for adults at various stages of the criminal justice system. The first report of an independent evaluation of these schemes is planned for Autumn 2004 with a final report in 2007.

The Home Office is also developing a research project to evaluate restorative justice as a diversion from prosecution. This is planned to commence in 2004.

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