Martin Wright: Victims' needs and rights
May 19, 2009
An ICM survey of 1,085 victims of non-violent crime in the UK, for the Ministry of Justice in England, found that 81% would prefer an offender to receive an effective sentence rather than a harsh one, and nearly two thirds (63%) disagreed that prison is always the best way to punish someone. An overwhelming majority of respondents (94%) said the most important thing to them was that the offender did not do it again. This figure is higher than the last survey in 2006 (91%).
Many surveys (for example Shapland et al. 2007 )have found that the great majority of victims who have experienced a restorative process found it helpful, enabling them to tell the offender the effects of his or her actions, and ask for answers to questions, and the satisfaction rate is much higher than when the cases went to court (although it has to be remembered that cases are only referred to mediation when the accused admits being involved in the offence).
Since so many victims benefit from it, a restorative process should be offered to all victims, at any stage of the process , which is unfortunately not the case in the United Kingdom. This requires the availability of restorative justice services throughout the country, which will be considered in the next section.
There should be general public awareness of this; victims and offenders in particular should have the process explained to them; and all concerned should be aware of it: criminal justice personnel, police, lawyers, judges and social workers. Awareness of restorative methods should start in schools , and these Recommendations should themselves be widely disseminated , and translated into all languages of the Council of Europe, where this has not already been done
From "Restorative justice: Victims' needs and rights; experience
of building up mediation services in the UK." This paper was presented
to Regional Forum on ‘Implementing Alternative Measures in
Penal Cases: introducing and sharing experiences on restorative
justice and victim-offender mediation application for juveniles and
beyond’, organized in Tirana by the Albanian Ministry of Justice and
others, 25-26 February, 2009. Download the full paper.