More victims to get answers as PCC confirms restorative justice service will run for second year

A service that helps victims of crime to get answers from offenders will be run for a second year, Merseyside’s Police Commissioner has confirmed today.

In 2015, Jane Kennedy announced that she would be working with Merseyside’s Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC) and not-for-profit community interest company Restorative Solutions to raise awareness of restorative justice and increase its use in the region, giving victims in Merseyside the chance to come face-to-face with offenders and make them realise the consequences of their crimes.

Following confirmation of Ministry of Justice funding, the Commissioner is now enabling the service to continue to run for a second year, through 2016 and into 2017. Following a rigorous tendering exercise, Jane has announced today that the CRC and Restorative Solutions will once again deliver a victim-led restorative justice scheme across the whole of Merseyside.

Jane said: “Restorative justice gives victims the chance to be heard, to get answers and to get a sense of closure. Giving victims who want to the chance to come face-to-face with those who have committed crimes against them and can help them to find a really positive way forward and even give them back some control over their anxieties.

“While restorative justice may not be for everyone, the aim is to ensure any victim of crime who feels this approach could benefit them is able to find out more, discuss their options with an experienced and accredited practitioner and decide if it really is for them. That’s exactly what the CRC and Restorative Solutions are providing on Merseyside.

“Not only that, but they are raising awareness to make sure more and more victims of crime know that this is a path they can take if they feel it could help them.

“I am pleased that the CRC and Restorative Solutions will continue to deliver this service for people across Merseyside, no matter where they live.”

Merseyside CRC and Restorative Solutions will continue to work closely with Merseyside Police and all the Commissioner’s criminal justice partners to deliver this service over the next 12 months, with the four key aims of increasing access; working with criminal justice partners to increase the number of restorative justice referrals; improving awareness and understanding of restorative justice and its benefits and delivering a high quality service focussed on the needs of victim and delivered by a trained facilitator.

Through this service, restorative justice is available at all stages of the criminal justice process, including pre-conviction and even in cases where a victim has not reported an offence to the police.

Restorative justice should always be voluntary and only takes place after both the victim and offender agree and a trained facilitator has assessed the case as suitable. This means a lot of careful preparatory work is required before a victim and offender meet. Victims also have the opportunity to withdraw at any point.

In February, the CRC hosted a major conference at the Anglican Cathedral which aimed to give the public a wider understanding of restorative justice and the impact it can have, both on the victim and the offender. Those who attended heard of the “tremendous benefit” a restorative justice conference had for a woman who chose to meet her partner’s killer, helping her to come to terms with what had happened.

Merseyside CRC’s Head of Operations and Development John Quick said: “We are so pleased to have been re-commissioned to deliver victim led Restorative Justice  in Merseyside for the next 12 months.”

The CRC and Restorative Solutions have previously delivered specialist restorative justice training to specific teams within Merseyside Police. This training aimed to equip PCSOs with greater knowledge and understanding of restorative justice to enable them to identify the cases where a victim would benefit from participating to help them cope and recover.

You can contact the Restorative Justice  team on 08452660761 or Email rjenquiries@merseyside.probation.gsi.gov.uk

 

Merseyside Police Commissioner asks the VCF network for their views on police funding

Merseyside’s Police Commissioner is asking local people if they would be willing to pay a little extra to protect local police.

After six years of austerity, the Government announced in December that it would not cut the police budget any further. However, in his calculations the Chancellor actually included a 0.6% cut to Merseyside Police’s grant that he assumed would be made up by local people paying more towards policing through their Council Tax.

In a letter later sent to Police Commissioners, it was confirmed that they would be expected to increase the police precept part of the local council tax in order to maintain the current levels of funding for their police service.

This means that if Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy chooses not to increase the police precept by 1.95% as anticipated by the Government, the police’s budget will effectively be cut by 0.6% – the equivalent of £1.35m. This cut puts at risk about 26 police officer posts.

Now Jane is asking local people whether they would be willing to contribute an extra 4p a week on their annual Council Tax bill to make up for the Government shortfall and make sure she is able to balance the budget.

The proposed increase expected by the Government works out as about £2 a year extra for a Band A household – the lowest Council Tax category and the amount paid by the majority of tax payers on Merseyside. This would increase the police element of tax payers’ bills from £106.45 to £108.53.

Jane said: “While the Government’s dramatic U-turn on cuts of up to 40% on our police service came as a huge relief last year, the Chancellor was only able to say that he was protecting the police budget by assuming that local tax payers would pay more.

“The Chancellor did not consult local people, he just put together the police’s budget on the expectation that the residents of Merseyside would make up the difference. This has effectively tied my hands – if I don’t increase the amount of council tax collected towards policing, the Force will lose out.

“Merseyside Police has already had its budget cut by more than £77m over the last six years. This has led to the loss of more than 1,600 officers, PCSOs and staff.  This is all in a context of rising crime and major budget cuts to our community safety partners. We cannot afford to lose any more.

“I am therefore asking people if they would be willing to contribute an extra 4p a week to help balance the books against this cut by the government and protect vital frontline police services.”

In previous years the Government has made grants available to those Police Commissioners who did not increase their precept, but this now been scrapped leaving Jane with no choice but to increase the precept if she is to set a balanced budget.

By increasing the precept by 1.95%, the Commissioner can raise enough money to cover the Government’s cut and protect local officer jobs.

People are invited to have their say through an online survey at http://www.merseysidepcc.info/paying-to-protect-local-policing.aspx by 1st February. The Commissioner will also be holding a series of road shows, one in each Local Authority area with two in Liverpool, to ask people for their views.

Time and Date Location
4pm-6pm Monday 25th January Asda Huyton
Huyton Lane
Knowsley
L36 7TX
12.30-2.30pm Tuesday 26th January Asda Walton,
Utting Avenue,
Walton,
L4 9XU
1.30-3.30pm Wednesday 27th January Asda Superstore
222 Grange Rd,
Birkenhead,
Wirral,
CH41 6EB
1pm -3pm Thursday 28th January Sainsburys,
Liverpool Road,
Crosby
L23 2SA
10am – 12 noon Friday 29th January Asda St Helens
Kirkland Street,
St Helens,
WA10 2EF
2.30-4.30pm Monday 1st February Liverpool South
Venue TBC

The Commissioner added: “I know that everyone is feeling the pinch at the moment and I don’t make this proposal lightly, but unfortunately the Government is forcing me to ask people for a little more if Merseyside Police is to maintain the same high level of service the public have come to expect.

“Looking ahead, we are also facing increases in national insurance, pay and pensions, all of which make it even more important to keep the budget balanced now.

“Before I make any final decision I want to hear the views of local people.”

Take part in the survey here at http://www.merseysidepcc.info/paying-to-protect-local-policing.aspx 

 

 

‘Tackling Inequality in the Criminal Justice System’ – a new report from Clinks

Many equality and minority groups are overrepresented in the Criminal Justice System (CJS) and a large proportion of the people in the CJS face some form of discrimination or disadvantage because of being from
an equality and/or minority group.
‘Tackling Inequality in the Criminal Justice System’ summarises presentations given at a Clinks seminar by organisations working to tackle inequality in the CJS and highlights learning points for voluntary and statutory organisations.