New Restorative Justice project launched in Northumberland

30 Mar 2017 00:00 AM

HMP-Northumberland [View Full Size]
A new initiative set to benefit victims, offenders and the local community has been launched by Victims First Northumbria and HMP Northumberland (Sodexo).
The Restorative Engagement For Offender Recovery Management (REFORM) project aims to help victims affected by crime, through restorative justice interventions, by working with offenders within HMP Northumberland who are remorseful and want to repair the harm caused by their behaviour.  
Through a new joint approach, a member of staff from Victims First Northumbria will be based within the prison to coordinate the project and engage with offenders to work towards their participation in suitable restorative justice interventions with their victim.  Trained and experienced volunteers will help support the project, assisting in the process of bringing together victims of crime with the person who caused them harm. This will allow them to seek answers to their questions and help them cope and recover from their experience, as well as providing the offender with the opportunity to make amends, realise the true impact of their actions and, ultimately, reduce their offending behaviour.  
Monies earned from work-based activities carried out by prisoners have also been used to fund the provision of practical support to any victims of crime identified in the community within the residential area surrounding HMP Northumberland.  This act of indirect reparation forms part of wider restorative justice interventions that have been implemented within the prison to help offenders repair the harm caused to victims of crime. 
Victims First Northumbria (VFN) is an independent charity and victim referral service, providing support to victims of crime across the Northumbria area, helping them access specialist services across the region.  Last year VFN picked up a top national award, the Restorative Service Quality Mark (RSQM), in recognition of the quality of its RJ services. The charity is committed to building on this achievement, and this partnership with HMP Northumberland demonstrates a pledge to delivering excellent RJ services to local people, helping everyone find a positive way forward.  
Ruth Parker, CEO of VFN, said: "VFN has a proven track record in supporting victims in Northumbria to cope and recover from their experience and allows them access to restorative interventions. This project is about working closely with HMP Northumberland to develop our offering further and building better futures for everyone."
Tony Simpson, Director of HMP Northumberland, stated that “Sodexo are proud to support the work of VFN and to provide the funding for the initiative, which is generated from work undertaken by prisoners. We are wholly committed to reducing the number of victims in our community - repairing the damage caused by crime undoubtedly improves the quality of life of all involved and directly contributes to a safer Northumbria”
HMP Northumberland is a working prison and inmates are employed to carry out work including laundry, waste recycling and gardening activities.   Monies earned from these activities have been used to fund the REFORM Project.