Just what does restorative justice restore?
from the entry by TheJusticeofthePeace:
Whenever a country is governed in a manner at odds with the rule of law even if its government has been honestly or dishonestly elected inevitably the word[s] used to describe it is police state. This is no idle figure of speech. The phrase tells it as it is. Police as the civilian arm of law and order provide the trigger finger of a government when force is required. There is virtually nothing which more disturbs the democratic underbelly of a country like ours as the use perceived or actual of excessive or unlawful force by police.
The G20 demonstration and its aftermath were proof if proof were needed. The bussing in of massive numbers of police during the miners` strike of 1984/5 is to this day a rallying cry for militant socialism. The authority of the legal process as understood by the majority law abiding population has been fatally undermined eg by the blatant and admitted use of speed cameras as revenue raisers as compared to their proponents vain and repeated assertions of their primary function as essential requirements for road safety. CCTV cameras being employed for all manner of dubious purposes to the detriment of individual privacy far in excess of their sometimes dubious assistance in deterring criminal activity are another example of judge, jury and sentence by rote.
All this can be encapsulated by the wide ranging powers of apprehension, judgement and sentence represented by the use of tens of thousands poorly educated, poorly paid and often poorly trained uniformed individuals to police our towns and cities where once upon a time a real police officer did the job usually with good humour, honesty and a great deal of tact when the culprit was obviously committing a minor misdemeanour and not by any stretch of the imagination a criminal offence by any other term.
Press officers in many police forces are busy extolling the virtues of the latest ploys to avoid the use of the courtroom for justice. The watchword is Restorative Justice?. Bedfordshire Police is one of many employing this procedure and a report can be read here. But two quotes from the newspaper report are illustrative of the mindset behind this initiative;
"Since the initiative's introduction, 319 crimes have been dealt with in this manor as opposed to costly and time-consuming court procedures."
"It is typically used to address crimes such as shoplifting, minor assault and criminal damage."
Thames Valley Police state amongst other benefits of RJ,
"These disposals - for low-level crime - were introduced to deal with offenders without bringing them into the Criminal Justice system and allow the victim to say what they would like to come out of the incident. This is often just acceptance of wrongdoing and an apology."
Many other forces are putting out similar propaganda the essence of which is that for certain offenders and increasingly serious offences avoidance of justice through the courts system is a better choice for all of us; public and offenders alike.
There are two wedges which I find tasty and useful....most cheeses and wooden ones to keep doors open. The processes described in this post are in my opinion the increasingly thickening wedges of an authoritarian state. The thin edge must not be allowed to become any thicker. Perhaps this change of government is a step in the right direction.....time will tell.
Read the whole article.