FOI 3586 Use Of Restorative Justice
I write in connection with your request for information which was received on 5 March 2012. Please find below the response to your request:
1. Do you use Restorative Justice within your force area?
Yes, West Mercia Police (WMP) and its partners are committed to the principles of Restorative Justice (RJ) and within this the use of Community Resolution (CR).
2. In the past 12 months how many opportunities to use restorative justice have been:
a. Offered to both victims and offenders?
There is no specific recorded information held regarding incidents when an officer suggests the use of RJ to a victim and the victim declines, as this is not centrally recorded. RJ would not be 'offered' to an offender as RJ is a victim led initiative.
b. Been accepted by both parties and
c. Have been completed?
Restorative Justice at Level 2 and Level 3 i.e. Restorative Conferencing between victims and offenders is still at a fairly early stage of development within WMP and therefore no data is held centrally in respect of these at present. Community Resolution is widely used within West Mercia and between 1st April 2011 and 31st March 2012, 4234 Community Resolutions have been completed. The terms of a Community resolution have to be agreed to be acceptable to the victim and as being proportionate by the officer, also the offender has to accept responsibility for their wrong doing and to agree to the terms.
3. How has the use of restorative justice impacted on the number of prosecutions made within your force?
There is no specific recorded information held regarding how many of the RJ disposals that have been undertaken would have led to successful prosecutions had they have been disposed of through the courts. CR will not be considered as an option if it is not appropriate due to the offender's previous convictions.
For reference, experience shows that many of the offences are of a type where the Crown Prosecution Service would deem it not in the public interest to pursue, and therefore a conviction would be unlikely, additionally many victims choose to seek a CR rather than pursuit of justice through the criminal justice process, most often because the offences, whilst having an impact on the victim are 'low level' in seriousness.
4. Do you undertake an evaluation process with regards to restorative justice?
WMP does undertake an evaluation process of RJ by means of robust supervision and dip sampling at a local level i.e. The use of CR for anything other than minor crime has to be considered and authorised by a detective chief inspector. This is underpinned by a process of review by locally-based chief inspectors. We are working at present to further develop this process.
Also, the use of Community Resolution has been subject of scrutiny at a themed Force Performance Group and also subject of a review by the Police Authority at our busiest Territorial Policing Unit - North Worcestershire. In both cases the findings were encouraging.
5. In the past 12 months how many have been:
a. Positively received?
b. Negatively received ?
There is a demonstrable increase in victim satisfaction where RJ interventions have been used, although survey data for this year is not available.
6. Are officers trained in the use of restorative justice and what does this training consist of?
WMP provide different levels of training to cover the different forms of intervention available under Restorative Justice.
Officers are generally skilled in Community Resolution and this is supported by training. In addition, there is a trained team that is available to engage in Restorative Conferencing when required. Also, an information card has gone out to officers, together with the use of a website offering guidance and advice and regular Force Orders entries.