Restorative justice - making a difference for both victim and offender

Posted 30.09.2019

Stakeholder Managers are working with Restorative Justice leads across D2N2 (Victim CARE and Remedi) to explore ways that Building Better Opportunities can support both victims and perpetrators of crime to get their lives back on track.

“An important strand of the strategy to reduce re-offending is concerted action to transform the skills and employment prospects of offenders and ex-offenders.  Alongside substance abuse, poor housing or broken relationships, low skills and lack of employment can be major obstacles to an offender living free of crime, and becoming a more productive member of society”
HM Government, Reducing Re-Offending Through Skills and Employment

Restorative justice has been defined as a process through which parties with a stake in a specific offence collectively resolve how to deal with the aftermath of the offence and its implications for the future. Restorative Justice can take the form of victim-offender mediation either through direct contact between the offender and victim or indirect communication involving third parties. It can also involve restitution or reparation where this is agreed between offenders and their victims.

Restorative justice brings those harmed by crime or conflict and those responsible for the harm into communication, enabling everyone affected by a particular incident to play a part in repairing the harm and finding a positive way forward. This is part of a wider field called restorative practice.

Restorative practice can be used anywhere to prevent conflict, build relationships and repair harm by enabling people to communicate effectively and positively. Restorative practice is increasingly being used in schools, children’s services, workplaces, hospitals, communities and the criminal justice system.

Restorative practice can involve both a proactive approach to preventing harm and conflict and activities that repair harm where conflicts have already arisen.

Where the latter is required, a facilitated restorative meeting can be held. This enables individuals and groups to work together to improve their mutual understanding of an issue and jointly reach the best available solution. But in many cases a less formal approach, based on restorative principles, may be more appropriate.

Restorative practice supports people to recognise that all of their activities affect others and that people are responsible for their choices and actions and can be held accountable for them. It enables people to reflect on how they interact with each other and consider how best to prevent harm and conflict.

The six Principles of restorative practice:
Restoration: the primary aim of restorative practice is to address and repair harm.
Voluntarism: participation in restorative processes is voluntary, based on informed choice.
Neutrality: restorative processes are fair and unbiased towards participants.
Safety: processes and practice aim to ensure the safety of all participants and create a safe space for the expression of feelings and views about harm that has been caused.
Accessibility: restorative processes are non-discriminatory and available to all those affected by conflict and harm.
Respect: restorative processes are respectful to the dignity of all participants and those affected by the harm caused.

These Principles should be applied in the course of all restorative practice work.

Outcomes of Restorative Justice:
Victim satisfaction: To reduce the fear of the victim and ensure they feel ‘paid back’ for the harm that has been done to them.
Engagement with the perpetrator: To ensure that they are aware of the consequences of their actions, have the opportunity to make reparation, and agree a plan for their restoration in the community.
Reducing reoffending: Properly administered, Restorative Justice Processes produce individually tailored solutions involving interaction between offenders, victims and the community. Restorative Justice can give victims answers to questions about why they have been victimised that information or support on their own cannot. Victims are more likely to receive an apology through a Restorative Justice process than at court. Similarly for offenders, Restorative Justice Processes offer a unique opportunity to face up to what they have done, take responsibility and make up for the harm their offending has caused.

Restorative justice can take place at any stage of the criminal justice process including after conviction and it can also form an integral part of any sentencing disposal, especially with youths. Currently it is more common for the Restorative Justice process to be used before a case comes to court i.e. as part of a diversionary process.

Restorative justice processes are more widely used with youth offenders. The Youth Justice Board has been promoting Restorative Justice since 2001.  Restorative justice can be used in youth cases as part of an order on conviction, such as a Referral Order or Supervision Order and as part of a final warning or intervention programme delivered by the youth offending service following a final warning.

Restorative processes can also be effective and proportionate responses to low level offending where the public interest does not require a formal criminal justice disposal, and can form part of an Acceptable Behaviour Contract and to resolve offending behaviour in schools and children’s homes.

Remedi supports adults and young people who are victims of crime across Derbyshire and Derby City.  This free and confidential service offers adults emotional and practical support to enable them to cope and recover following a crime. This support may be telephone or face-to-face and the crime doesn’t need to have been reported to the police.  Got Your Back is their youth service, which offers emotional and practical support to young victims of crime at home or in school. This free and confidential service uses creative ways to help young people to cope and recover following a crime or incident.

To find out more about Derbyshire Victim Services and Got Your Back please visit the website www.core-derbyshire.com and Twitter page @Derbyshire Core.   Alternatively, call the team on 0800 612 6505, text COREDVS to 82228 or email support@derbyshirecore.org or the website http://www.remediuk.org/

Victim CARE, which is part of Catch22, design and deliver services that build resilience and aspiration in people and communities across Nottingham and Nottinghamshire.

Nottingham/Nottinghamshire Victim CARE started in January 2017 and restorative justice is an important part of this service.  Work with restorative justice has drawn attention from partners and stakeholders across the county, and there is real interest in its application within communities as a tool for fighting hate crime and opening up dialogue across different groups to increase understanding.

Useful Material
Reducing re-offending through skills and employment
Restorative Justice Council website
Best Practice Guidance for Restorative Practice 2011 (on the Restorative Justice Council website)
Restorative Justice: Helping to meet local needs – web-based Home Office guidance

BBO is having a significant impact on individual lives, supporting people to increase their confidence, independence and achieve their employment aspirations.

See what our participants have to say in these case studies …

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