What is restorative justice?
Restorative justice brings together people harmed by crime or conflict with those responsible for the harm, to find a positive way forward.
Restorative justice gives victims a chance to explain to offenders the real impact of their crime, to get answers to their questions. It allows victims to ask 'why me?' and provides them with the opportunity to challenge the offender’s behaviour.
It empowers victims, giving them the opportunity to meet or communicate with their offenders in a safe environment to have their say.
It also holds offenders to account for what they have done and helps them to take responsibility and make amends, it can help to stop reoffending.
For victims, meeting the person who has harmed them can be a huge step in moving forward and recovering from that crime.
Restorative justice is not a ‘soft option’. Meetings between victim and offender can be very powerful and have a huge impact on victim recovery.
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.
Benefits of restorative justice include restoring victim’s confidence, to allow them to cope and recover from what can often be a horrendous life changing incident.
How does restorative justice work?
Restorative justice should always be voluntary.
Facilitators help people taking part in restorative justice and are there to make sure the process is safe.
Meeting an offender face to face is one option, but the facilitator could also arrange for a victim of crime and an offender to communicate via letters, recorded interviews or video.
Restorative justice can be used for any type of crime and at any stage of the criminal justice system, including alongside a prison sentence.
Studies on restorative justice have highlighted:
- 85% of victims who participated in face-to-face restorative justice were satisfied.
- Restorative justice reduces the frequency of reoffending and led to £8 savings for every £1 spent.
- 78% of victims that participated would recommend restorative justice to other victims.
- Restorative justice reduced Post Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms for victims.
- Restorative justice has been found to significantly reduce levels of fear and anger in victims.
How can restorative justice help?
Emma's** brother Dean** was stabbed 18 times at a house party. He died half an hour later on the kitchen floor.
Emma struggled for years to come to terms with his death, but eventually Restorative Justice helped her move on with her life.
Read more here.
**Names have been changed to protect identities
Accessing Restorative Justice in Merseyside
If you're interested in finding out more or think restorative justice could help you, please contact Victim Support, the PCC's commissioned provider of restorative justice on Merseyside.
You can contact the RJ team by email or ring the team on 0151 353 4003
Restorative justice in action on Merseyside
During 2014 the Commissioner asked her staff to map out what services are currently available to victims wishing to take part in restorative justice.
Results from this exercise found a lot of good practice including:
- Merseyside Police are making use of restorative justice through their ASB and Neighbourhood Teams;
- Staff within Merseyside’s prisons are already running restorative justice courses to engage with offenders in partnership with Victim Support;
- Merseyside’s Youth Offending Teams are using restorative justice to prevent young people from going into a life of crime by targeting them early on;
- Merseyside Community Rehabilitation Company are leading a partnership to deliver Restorative Justice Conferences to the people of Merseyside. The partnership is made up of Merseyside Community Rehabilitation Company, Merseyside National Probation Service, North West Prisons, Merseyside Constabulary, Victim Support, Merseyside Fire and Rescue and reports to the Police Crime Commissioner who chairs the Local Criminal Justice Board.
In October 2014, the Commissioner launched the Community Remedy to empower victims of ASB and low level crimes so they can request restorative justice.
The Commissioner’s office and Merseyside Police are also working together to improve awareness of restorative justice by offering accredited training within the Force, so that more victims have the opportunity to take part.
To find out more about restorative justice, visit the Restorative Justice Council’s website
If you had a chance to meet the person who committed a crime against you, what would you do?
Find out more about how restorative justice works through this short video put together by the Merseyside Community Rehabilitation Company:
Cumbria and Lancashire CRC (RJ Conference) from Rick Bailey on Vimeo.