Offenders to Meet their Victims

Essential training from a project funded by Gwent PCC Ian Johnston and unused office furniture donated by Gwent Police is being used by Her Majesty's Prison (HMP) Prescoed in Monmouthshire to establish a Restorative Justice and a Restorative Approaches project.

Restorative Justice gives victims the chance to meet or communicate with their offenders to explain the real impact of the crime. It empowers victims by giving them a voice and it also holds offenders to account for what they have done and helps them to take responsibility and make amends for their crimes.

Currently at Prescoed there are two Practitioners who have been trained and accredited by the Restorative Justice Council. To kick start and facilitate the Restorative Justice project, unused furniture donated by Gwent Police will help establish an office and conference environment at the Category D open prison. The prison also aims to establish an informal and relaxing area where offenders and victims can meet.

In addition to establishing a Restorative Justice project, the long term plan at HMP Prescoed is to adopt a Restorative Approach throughout the prison. The Restorative Approach aims to create a sense of social responsibility and shared accountability in maintaining and repairing relationships and this will benefit the whole environment within the prison and not just those engaged in the Restorative Justice project.

Gwent PCC Ian Johnston is a big supporter of using restorative approaches to resolve conflict and has awarded funding towards the Making Connections project run by Monmouth Comprehensive School. The project provides high quality training, support and development for Gwent Police and other partner organisations in the methods of restorative approaches. Staff and offenders at Prescoed are now set to benefit from the training which enables those who have received it to become qualified trainers themselves and extend the project beyond the prison.

Welcoming the support, the Restorative Justice Coordinator and Offender Supervisor at HMP Prescoed, Jason Whitcombe, said: "We feel that that Restorative Justice is a fantastic opportunity for the prison given that the prisoners based here are coming towards the end of their sentences and are looking to reintegrate back into the community. The most effective form of restorative justice is face to face meetings and it can prepare an offender for release by helping them to explore the needs of their victims, the victims' families and their own families."

"We also want the whole prison to benefit from the restorative approaches ethos. Restorative approaches in prison can provide offenders with tools to build a better prison and community. We aim at Prescoed not only to support those wishing to engage in this process but to take the concept to a wider audience to show the impact crime can have on both the harmed and the harmer."

Jason added: "Partnership working in times of austerity is essential and I would like to thank the Police and Crime Commissioner and Gwent Police for their help and their support in getting this project off the ground."

The Police and Crime Commissioner for Gwent, Ian Johnston, said: "The Restorative Approach focuses on putting things right for the long term by repairing relationships and bringing people together. It's pleasing to see schools, the police and now Prescoed prison taking on this approach in Gwent. If the restorative approach is adopted throughout Wales and beyond, it could have a significant impact on reducing criminal activity by addressing the root causes of problems before they escalate into something bigger."

 

THE RESTORATIVE FACTS:

  • Government research demonstrates that restorative justice provides an 85% victim satisfaction rate and a 14% reduction in the frequency of reoffending.
  • The Restorative Justice Council and Victim Support presented the Government with evidence that providing restorative justice in 70,000 cases involving adult offenders would deliver £185 million in cashable cost savings to the criminal justice system over two years, through reductions in re-offending alone
  • Research has also confirmed that restorative justice reduced the frequency of reoffending, leading to £9 savings for every £1 spent on Restorative Justice