On Saturday 10 October, it was announced that Liz, Restorative Practice Manager at London CRC, will be honoured with an MBE, as part of this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours List.
Across the last three and a half decades, Liz has helped transformed countless lives, reducing reoffending, building social cohesion and safer communities. She has become known as one of the faces of restorative practice in MTC, raising awareness across the organisation and helping to develop key RP practices such as the Restorative Justice one-to-one conferences, and the Restorative Practice Making Amends groups.
Qualifying in 1985, Liz recalls her two year training Master’s degree at London School of Economics, and her interview opposite four senior executives. Upon successfully joining Inner London Probation Service, Liz remembers that “I thought ‘this is the job I will do for the rest of my life.’ I thought ‘I am the right person for this job – and I can’t believe they’re letting me do it.'”
Her career has been highly varied within justice. She worked in HMP Holloway for five years, taught at Brunel and Hertford universities, in a specialist centre for prolific offenders and then helped developed interventions for hate crimes and extremist offenders. It was this last work that propelled her towards the restorative practice work for which she is now known.
“When I worked with racially motivated and hate crimes,” Liz explains, “I found that the most serious offenders had very little victim empathy. The challenge was to develop victim empathy and I became fascinated with this. It then occurred to me that if the offender met with the victim, it might shift their view further and it was during that period that I went and did my own restorative justice training.
“Restorative Justice was a way of getting entrenched service users to develop more empathy and awareness – and not to stereotype their victims. RJ works very well with hate crimes.”
Liz’s work, championing Restorative Practice (RP), has included facilitating many service user and victim mediations, helping to repair the harm caused and break the cycle of reoffending. Above all else, she advocated rehabilitative approaches to probation work.
Five years ago, Liz developed the UK probation’s only group-based Restorative Practice intervention: Making Amends. Now run by Restorative Practice practitioners, it has had extraordinary levels of success, and at Liz’s recommendation is used as a pre-course for all service users completing Safer Streets to make them more receptive to the later course. She has also successfully adapted Making Amends to be used in prisons, beginning with a trial in HMP Wormwood Scrubs.
“Restorative practice is not like being a counsellor,” Liz says, “you cannot do it without other people – we are part of a team, we are collaborative and cooperative. The collaborative approach brings out the best in everyone – it’s not competitive – and the work is both realistic and aspirational.”
“Making Amends has been immense,” Liz enthuses, “it has confirmed my belief in terms of being positive and focused – and that it can be transformational. It’s developed by professionals and it’s done in a respectable way. I’m proud to be part of it.”
Liz is aware that there is change in the air with the reunification of the probation service in 2021.
Looking forward to the future, Liz is certain that the role of probation will be the same for frontline teams, “the job is to get your service users to desist from their behaviours. That’s what the job has always been – to protect the public and encourage desistence. The job is to bring influence to bear – to use all your training and professional skills, rather than simply reporting and recording compliance – it’s about transformation.”
Renowned as a whirlwind of energy, she works at a homeless shelter in her spare time, works in the community as a Labour councillor in Brent, has lectured at Kingston University, worked on the Probation Journal editorial board for nearly a decade and founded the Friends of Gladstone Park to improve a public space. As to what comes next – she’s not quite sure.
“I remain as keen as I have always been,” she assures us, “I’m not finishing but I am 34 years in the job. I was an academic, I’ve worked in prisons, in a specialist centre – all those years I’ve been learning and I continue to learn. I was given support, and I hope I’ve behaved responsibly with it.
“I am grateful to those who nominated me. I am grateful to all my colleagues and service users over the years who have taught me so much. It has been a privilege, an honour and a challenge to work to bring influence to bear on service users and help victims and the community.”