Restorative Justice brings those harmed by conflict or crime and those responsible for the harm together. It gives victims the chance to meet or communicate with their offenders to explain the real impact of the crime and it empowers victims by giving them a voice.
This enables effective communication, so everyone affected by a particular incident can play a part in repairing the harm and find the right way forward. It prioritises victim participation and holds offenders to account for what they have done as it helps them to take responsibility and make amends. Government research demonstrates that restorative justice provides an 85% victim satisfaction rate, and a 14% reduction in the frequency of reoffending.
Restorative justice is about victims and offenders communicating within a controlled environment to talk about the harm that has been caused and finding a way to repair that harm.
For offenders, the experience can be incredibly challenging as it confronts them with the personal impact of their crime. For victims, meeting the person who has harmed them can be a huge step in moving forward and recovering from the crime.
Restorative justice conferences, where a victim meets their offender, are led by a facilitator who supports and prepares the people taking part and makes sure that the process is safe. Sometimes, when a face to face meeting is not the best way forward, the facilitator will arrange for the victim and offender to communicate via letters, recorded interviews or video.
For any kind of communication to take place, the offender must have admitted to the crime, and both victim and offender must be willing to participate.
Restorative justice can be used for any type of crime and at any stage of the criminal justice system, including alongside a prison sentence.
Visit https://www.restorativejustice.org.uk/ for more information regarding Restorative Justice.
Whilst providing support to victims of crime the Victim Care Officer will listen to comments made by the victim. If they indicate that there are questions to ask the offender, such as: –
- They would like an explanation from the offender,
- They would like to know why the offence took place,
- They would like reassurance from the offender to satisfy themselves that the crime will not happen again,
- They have any other questions that they would like answering by the offender,
- They would they like an apology from the offender,
- If there is something that they would like to say to the offender
then Restorative Justice may be a consideration
In such circumstances the Victim Care Officer will explain the principles of Restorative Justice and ask if the victim would like a referral to be made to a Restorative Justice Coordinator who will make initial enquiries to establish if the offence has been detected and if a restorative approach would be suitable.
If the victim would like more time to consider this then arrangements can be made to make contact with them at a later date.
The Restorative Justice Coordinator will arrange for the offender to be contacted and an assessment made as to the suitability of the process. Where it is deemed appropriate the Restorative Justice Coordinator will make further contact with the victim and discuss the options available to them. The victim will then decide on the course of action that they would like to take. The Victim Care Officer will provide support to the victim throughout the process if needed.
A short film (see above) has been prepared that contains interviews with three people that were a victim of a crime who have been through a Restorative Justice conference with their offender. It is hoped that the film will provide more information and reassurance to those who are considering the option to go through the Restorative Justice process and will help to make an informed decision.
For further advice on Restorative Justice please contact: –
The Victim Care and Advice Service
Telephone: 0303 040 1099
Durham Restorative Justice Hub
Telephone: 0300 003 1818
Cleveland Restorative Justice Coordinator
Telephone: 01642 303309