What is Restorative Justice?
Restorative justice (RJ) gives victims the chance to meet or communicate with their offenders to explain the real impact of the crime. It empowers victims by giving them a voice.
It also holds offenders to account for what they have done and 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.
RJ 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. The process is victim led.
RJ can be used for almost any type of crime (excluding domestic violence and sexual abuse) it can also take place alongside a prison sentence.
Restorative Justice and Young People
The use of restorative practice in early intervention aims to keep young people out of the criminal justice system. This can include the use of restorative practice in schools, care homes and the community, as well as in crime prevention activity.
By supporting challenging young people to deal with conflict in a positive and constructive way, restorative approaches can help to ensure that they are able to avoid contact with the criminal justice system. This both improves their life chances and reduces demands on the police.
The use of restorative practice with young people is increasingly prevalent in care homes, where its benefits can be particularly clear.
Young people in residential care are disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system, with incidents that take place in this setting more likely to be reported to the police. A restorative approach can ensure that incidents are dealt with in a way that resolves the situation positively without recourse to the police.
In any setting involving children and young people, restorative approaches teach an understanding of others' feelings and the ability to connect and communicate successfully. They enable young people to think for themselves about how to respond to challenging situations. And they enable young people to build trust and develop more mature responses to a difficult situation. Children are able to take these skills into adult life.
Different levels of restorative justice
An instant or on street disposal where police officers use restorative skills to resolve conflict in the course of their duties. This allows the police to deal with minor crimes and incidents quickly and proportionately. Instant RJ is conducted as an alternative to formal criminal justice (CJ) process.
Conferences are arranged, where the typical ‘level 1’ resolution could not take place immediately for whatever reason or to tackle more serious or persistent matters that have a clear impact on communities. Level 2 conferences may involve more participants and a risk assessment. The process can be that a face to face meeting takes place between the offender (harmer) and the victim. This is in a controlled environment and will be conducted by a trained facilitator. It may be that you as the victim do not want to meet with the offender but would like to ask some questions. This can also be arranged.
Complex and sensitive cases including those in prison.
Other useful information can be found via the Restorative Justice Council website.
If you would like to take part in a restorative process or learn more about it please contact our restorative justice officer:
PC 1568 Alex Challinor, Community Safety, St Asaph Police Station
Phone: 01745 588776
Restorative Standards Quality Mark
The victims’ code states that "victims should be provided with full and impartial information on Restorative Justice and how they can take part”.
North Wales Police are one of only three police forces within the UK who hold the Restorative Justice Council “Restorative Standards Quality Mark” (RSQM).
The Restorative Justice Council wants to make sure that Restorative Justice (RJ) is always done well, so that people harmed by crime and conflict can be confident they'll get a safe, effective service that meets their needs. The Restorative Service Quality Mark (RSQM) gives the public that confidence.
The RSQM is external recognition of quality restorative practice.