Restorative Justice is a voluntary process which provides victims with the opportunity to communicate (directly or indirectly) with the offender responsible for the crime committed against them.
What is Restorative Justice?
Restorative Justice (RJ) is a victim-focused, voluntary process which brings together the victims of crime and offenders to help repair harm and find a way forward. It gives victims an opportunity to explain to the offender the real impact of their crime, enabling them to move on with their lives. RJ also provides a way for offenders to face up to their actions.
Often people affected by crime feel they have little involvement in the Criminal Justice Process. RJ can help by delivering benefits that traditional justice cannot, by empowering victims and giving them a voice.
What support is available?
A trained RJ Facilitator will be assigned to you to guide you through the process. They will complete all necessary eligibility, suitability and risk assessments and will meet with you regularly. This will help the Facilitator to understand what happened and the effects the crime has had on you, and sometimes your family and friends too. They will discuss the options available and answer any questions you may have, providing reassurance and support throughout.
RJ is a voluntary process and you can withdraw from it at any time if you no longer feel it is right for you.
The RJ Facilitator will meet with the offender to ascertain their agreement to take part and to undertake further eligibility, suitability and risk assessments. The process is also voluntary for offenders.
Methods of Restorative Justice
Direct (Face to Face)
Face to Face Restorative Justice involves a meeting between the victim and the offender, as well as the RJ Facilitator. Both the victim and offender can be accompanied by members of their family or friends should they wish to do so. These people are called Supporters. Supporters undergo the same eligibility, suitability and risk assessments as the victim and the offender to help ensure that RJ is a safe and restorative intervention.
The meeting will be led by your Facilitator who will thoroughly prepare you about what to expect before, during and after the meeting takes place. All meetings are held in a safe and controlled environment and you can be assured that the victim and offender are not left alone at any time.
Some people do not feel comfortable meeting the offender face-to-face, or this may not be appropriate due to a variety of reasons. Where this is the case, alternative methods of communication can be used:
Letters: Your Facilitator will work with you and the offender to arrange the passing of letters between the victim and the offender, providing the victim with the opportunity to write down any questions you have, and how you feel as a result of the crime, for the offender to read and respond to. All letters are reviewed by the Facilitator before being passed on to the other party to ensure their content is appropriate with a restorative aim in mind.
Shuttle Mediation: Instead of writing letters, messages can be passed between the victim and the offender by the Facilitator.
How does Restorative Justice help?
Meeting a person who has committed a crime against you can be a huge step in enabling a victim to move forward and recover from the impact of that crime. The offender can be held to account for what they have done, with RJ providing an opportunity for the victim to confront the offender with that personal impact and to explain the bearing the offence has had on them, as well as their family and friends. Victims can also benefit from understanding why they were victimised.
As a result, victims often describe feeling empowered by the process of RJ and feel they no longer have to be afraid and can continue to lead a normal life.
Offenders have reported being influenced by seeing first-hand the consequences and effects of their actions which can help them come to terms with their behaviour and help reduce the chance of them reoffending in future.
How to take part in Restorative Justice
On receipt of your computerised Referral Form a member of the Restorative Justice Hub team will contact you to discuss RJ further.
Remember that Restorative Justice will always be at your pace; the process is voluntary and you can choose to withdraw at any time.