Victims of sex crimes should have the opportunity to meet the perpetrators face-to-face.

The controversial notion of “restorative justice”, in which victims and perpetrators of crime meet in a safe and supported environment to talk about what happened and how it has affected them and others around them, should be extended to survivors of sexual violence according to a Huddersfield academic.

Dr Nadia Wager, who carried out research at the University of Huddersfield, said there was evidence to suggest that survivors of sexual violence should be given options for how they achieve justice in the aftermath of victimisation, since very few seek or achieve justice through the courts.

One potential option might be to embrace the process of restorative justice which is relatively new in its application to sexual violence and is deemed controversial in the context of using it outside of the court process.

Dr Wager, who is a Reader in Forensic Psychology and an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society, said the theory behind restorative justice is to help both sides by allowing them to heal, repair the harm and find a positive way forward.

She said: “Victims of crime are increasingly asking for this service which means the number of referrals is growing considerably as well as those which fall outside of the criminal justice system.

“The need to create a set of policy and practice guidelines that can be applied in complex and sensitive cases is now more important than ever which is what I hope the day will achieve.”

Dr Wager will present a workshop called Justice in the Aftermath of Sexual Assault, on Friday, November 10 at the University of Huddersfield as part of the Economic and Social Research Council’s nationwide Festival of Social Science.

She added: “While the topic is relatively controversial there are likely to be strong opinions both in favour and opposition of the use of restorative justice for sexual crimes.”

She added that with respectful discussion and debate a mutually agreed way forward will be forged.

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