Putting victims at the heart of justice

Reporter: Richard Hooton
Date published: 23 August 2013

Greater Manchester Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd and his deputy Jim Battle outlined their crime and justice priorities in an exclusive interview with RICHARD HOOTON

GREATER Manchester’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) wants to use restorative justice to put victims at the centre of the punishment process.

Tony Lloyd and his new deputy Jim Battle set out their plans to encourage offenders to take responsibility for their actions by apologising to their victim and repairing damage.

Critics argue it can let off crooks too lightly - and can be used by police to control crime figures.

But Mr Lloyd said: “Where it works it is about the criminal having to face up to what they have done.

“There may be a community remedy or some form of payment or payback. It can’t be a soft option. It’s not for hardened criminals.”

But he believes the system could be used in preference to a short prison sentence, though not for repeat offenders.

Mr Lloyd added: “It has to be victim focused, so the victim is comfortable. For the right victim that may be the right approach. The courts are not victim focused. You are just there as a witness and not centre stage.

“It’s about keeping the victim informed and making sure they feel involved in the process. We have to have some common sense. It can only be done if the public has confidence in it.”

The duo’s top concern is anti-social behavior, Mr Lloyd said. He wants to improve liaison between the police, health services, local authorities and probation officers to tackle problems earlier and prevent other crimes.

He argues that getting people drug and alcohol treatment earlier will help to steer them away from crime and reduce costs for all parties.

Mr Lloyd said: “ASB is one of the biggest single things people in Oldham raise. Historically, I don’t think ASB was always treated in the same way as crime. But anti-social behaviour does matter and can trash lives.

“I want to encourage people to report ASB. If people are suffering in silence that’s the worst thing.”

The commissioner also rebuffed accusations of cronyism over Mr Battle’s recent appointment.

The former Manchester Central Labour MP has faced criticism for hiring a long-term political ally as his £55,000-a-year deputy.

Mr Lloyd insisted the appointment had come after an independent panel had chosen five interviewees from 17 applications - with Mr Lloyd making his choice from the final three.

“Jim has experience I don’t have; we complement each other. When serving 2.7 million people I can’t be everywhere at once. I need a deputy to help make sure we are putting the community first.”