This report argues for reforms to the way the criminal justice system deals with victims, communities and offenders, in order to repair the everyday relationships damaged by crime and social exclusion.

Crime is both a cause and a consequence of a breakdown in relationships: a lack of positive family and wider social relationships very often lies behind offending behaviour, while crime itself damages relationships, harming victims and fostering fear and mistrust within communities.

Yet our criminal justice system does very little to repair the relationships that are damaged by crime and social exclusion. The system is set up as a confrontation between the state and the accused, rather than providing for direct reparation between the victim and the offender; it also gives local communities very little role in achieving justice and tackling the causes of crime. Furthermore, rather than providing the kind of consistent relationships with professionals that would aid rehabilitation, the system passes offenders between a range of different agencies, with too many falling between the cracks.

This report proposes means to tackle the everyday, high-volume but relatively low-harm offences that make up the vast majority of crimes by mobilising the collective power of all relevant actors and institutions to ensure reparation for harm done and rehabilitation for the offender.

Its recommendations cover three areas.

  • Offering greater direct reparation from offenders to their victims, including a right to restorative justice, to improve victims' confidence in the system while helping to reduce reoffending by bringing home to the offender the damage they have caused.
  • Fostering greater community involvement in the justice system, particularly through neighbourhood justice panels, to secure greater public confidence in the courts.
  • Providing offenders with the kind of stable and consistent relationships with criminal justice professionals that the evidence tells us are likely to promote desistance from crime, by making the justice system more integrated, and placing all young adult offenders aged 18–21 under the responsibility of the successful local youth offending teams.