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Restorative justice, policing and the Big Society

February 27, 2011

One of those consequences was the erosion of professional discretion and a driving of activity in very prescribed forms. I think the consequence of this top-down culture was that we disempowered the frontline across the public sector, but certainly in relation to the criminal justice system. We robbed police officers of their discretion, and we divided criminal justice partners.

…Now I would like to say something else that I think is perhaps challenging.

I believe that we should stop talking about ‘diverting’ from the criminal justice system. Whilst I know exactly what is meant by this language, I think it’s a problem because it implies that diverting people from the system is some kind of goal in itself, that that is what we aspire to do. It is a problem describing it in that way as we can lose the public and their confidence that crime is being dealt with.

Instead of talking about diversion from the system, what we should really be talking about is transforming the criminal justice system. Transforming it into a service and transforming the way it operates. What we should really be talking about is not diversion but reclaiming justice for communities and ensuring that the way in which justice is delivered is not remote and that the system is not opaque.

We should stop talking about diversion because what we want to do is not see restorative justice as some kind of alternative to the criminal justice system. What we want to see is restorative justice and restorative principles embedded in the criminal justice system as a whole and operating at every part of the criminal justice system.

Read the whole speech.


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