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Victims and restorative justice

Comment 9th September 2010

All victims, whether or not a successful conviction is achieved, should be offered the chance of restorative justice. Equally, offenders should be given the chance to 'say sorry' to the people they have harmed. This should take place as a separate issue from the criminal justice system.

Restorative justice should be expanded early throughout the schooling system-people should be accountable for their own actions and realise their actions may often impact on others. victims may go on to become offenders-angry and with no voice-its the oldest trick in the book-you hurt me and i'll hurt you back.

Restorative justice is one of the few ways victims can truly be "at the heart of the criminal justice system"

There are many "silent victims" out there-just think of the number of rapes and sexual assaults that go unreported

Why does this matter?

Often crimes are committed in a dissociated fashion-the harmer sees no identification or connection with the victim. The victim is a person but has no name and is therefore doesn't really count in the offenders eyes. But the victim is real, the harm is real and the collateral damage-ie break up of families, abuse of others is real and so the damage perpetuates itself and the cycle continues.

Victims cost society a lot of money-not only via the criminal injuries compensation scheme, but more importantly -in the on going cost of loss of functioning, possible loss of employment, counselling bills, nhs drug costs etc. Victims often have to somatise their emotional pain, as there is no other way for it to be recognised. this costs the nhs thousands of pounds in unnecessary investigations and continued ongoing drug bills-often with drugs being prescribed to counteract the side effects of other drugs.When victims aren't heard they adopt "victimhood". Although trained mediators are required for restorative justice-early  intervention would prevent so many recidivist crimes that they would more than pay for themselves in a very short space of time.

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