Restorative Justice brings those harmed by crime, and those responsible for the harm, into communication, enabling everyone affected by a particular incident – victim, offender, their family or friends, and the wider community in general – to play a part in repairing the harm and finding a positive way forward.
For victims, their harm or loss can be acknowledged, their questions answered and some amends made if that is what they wish. Offenders have the opportunity to take responsibility, acknowledge the impact of their actions and to make reparation if that is what the victim wishes.
Understanding Restorative Justice
Restorative Justice empowers victims by listening to what they have to say, giving them a voice and a chance to explain the real impact of the crime to their offender, through careful preparation, a meeting, letter or other communication – but above all in a safe and supportive environment – to talk about the harm that has been caused and suggest ways of repairing that harm. Restorative Justice offers equal restoration for victims and offenders. For victims, meeting the person who has caused their distress can be demanding but can also be a huge step towards recovery. The process holds offenders to account for their actions, but also gives them the opportunity to make some amends in a way that discourages re-offending. Where ordered by the court, it is in addition to any other sentence rather than an alternative and as such cannot be considered a soft option. In reality, the experience can be incredibly challenging for offenders, as they are confronted by the very personal impact of their crime.
Government research* shows that Restorative Justice provides
- an 85% victim satisfaction rate
- a 14% reduction in the frequency of re-offending.
*These statistics are taken from reports by Professor J Shapland et all 2007 and 2008.