Policy makers, academics, researchers and representatives of community sector organisations came together on the 6th of December at IARS Annual Conference, entitled “Listening to Community Evidence: Gender, Race and Restorative Justice”. The conference received a great turn out for the launch of new research on 3 shifting policy domains; race and the criminal justice system, gender & abuse, and restorative justice & rehabilitation.

Dr. Theo Gavrielides, IARS’ Founder and Director said: “Many thanks to all those who attended our annual conference. It was a proud moment, and on this special day when human rights are celebrated internationally we take stock and commit to do more and listen better. Human rights are first and foremost for those who cannot speak for themselves.”

Held at the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple, keynote speakers of the conference included, implementation leader for the Ministry of Justice’s Transforming Rehabilitation programme, Emily Thomas and Chief Crown Prosecutor for London, Baljit Ubhey. Lively discussions began with debates on current rehabilitation reforms and restorative justice approaches to reduce patterns of offending behaviour.

The implementation leader for the Ministry of Justice’s Transforming Rehabilitation programme, Emily Thomas released the government’s recent plans for the privatisation of probations services. Her discussion drew on the disappointing findings, that despite a £4bn a year expenditure on prisons and community sentences, nearly half of all prisoners and more than a third of those given community sentences went on to reoffend within 12 months.

Emily Thomas said: “Conferences like the IARS event are really important when it comes to public sector changes because they allow us to go out and listen to the concerns that people have. To think about the questions asked and address them in our on-going work.”

Probation representatives across the UK and users of probation services contested these findings by revealing their own experiences and knowledge of service provision. While they offered contrary evidence to the above findings, Emily Thomas appreciated the importance of these discussions as vital feedback on public sector reforms.

Subsequently, Chief Crown Prosecutor for London, Baljit Ubhey mentioned the significant achievements in developing hate crime legislation and increased prosecutions for violence against women and girls and suggested that restorative justice should be considered as an alternative in hate crime cases. Yet she stressed the need to have more discussions which allowed users and community organisations to inform policies on public prosecution.

The first panel debated the impact of positive psychology approaches on rehabilitation theories in the context of restorative justice. The emphasis was placed on the fact that restorative justice practices are not fit for all purposes and victims and offenders should be treated as unique individuals within their social context. The powerfulness of the debate was concluded by Gabrielle Browne, a victim of serious sexual assault who spoke about of her experiences within the criminal justice system and the inefficiencies of it to deal effectively with her case and put emphasis on victims’ rights to have a voice for issues that affect them.

The conference also benefited from the multiple viewpoints held during the “No more abuse for refugee & asylum seeking women” panel. Community organisations, users and academic debated recent evidence obtained from IARS’ 3-year Comic Relief project on refugee and asylum-seeking women and the increasing need for gender sensitivity when it came to GP services and legal practitioners. Moreover, IARS launched the first year project findings report: Challenger, H. (2013). Abused No More: The Voices of Refugee and Asylum-seeking Women, IARS Publications: London

Lastly, the third panel focused on the “Race equality in a changing criminal justice system” and discussed changes and outcomes for probation service users, with particular focus on the experiences of Black and Minority Ethnic users.

Finally, Professor Paul SeniorDirector for Hallam Centre of Community Justice and Co-editor of the British Journal of Community Justice ended the event by launching two key publications:

To see some of the presentations of the speakers please follow this link 

Notes to Editors

Contact: Andriana Ntziadima – IARS Promotions & Resources Manager |a.ntziadima@iars.org.uk|02078200945|07833224442|

About IARS

IARS is a UK-based leading, international think-tank with a charitable mission to give everyone a chance to forge a safer, fairer and more inclusive society.

We achieve our charitable aims by producing evidence-based solutions to current social problems, sharing best practice and by supporting young people and the community to shape decision making. IARS is an international expert in criminal justice, restorative justice, human rights and inclusion, citizenship, public service and user-led research. To find out more about IARS please follow the link www.iars.org.uk

+44 (0) 20 7820 0945, Mob: 07833224442, contact@iars.org.uk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/IARSCommunity

Twitter: http://twitter.com/_IARS_