What is Restorative Justice? Restorative justice enables communication between those harmed by crime or conflict and those responsible for the harm. It provides an opportunity for everyone involved in the incident to play a part in repairing the harm and finding a positive way forward. Restorative Justice provides those harmed by the offence the opportunity to explain the full impact of the offence and to ask questions directly to the person responsible. This can enable the person harmed to request an apology, an explanation and to let the person responsible know what they would like/need to help them move forward from the offence. It also provides the person who committed the offence the opportunity to take responsibility for and to explain their actions, to make amends and to apologise if this is appropriate. As a victim, Restorative Justice gives you the chance to meet with the person(s) who committed the crime against you. It is an opportunity to ask the offender questions and to hear them take responsibility for what they have done. Many victims want to know “Why me?”. Restorative Justice provides a safe environment for you, as the victim, to ask the offender this and any other questions you have. For many victims, meeting the person who has harmed them can be a huge step in moving forward and recovering from the impact of the crime. If, as a victim, you feel Restorative Justice could help you or you wish to find out more about it from a trained Restorative Justice practitioner, please contact us. How does Restorative Justice Work? Restorative justice can be used for any type of crime and at any stage of the criminal justice system, including alongside a prison sentence or as part of an alternative to prosecution. As a victim, you will be visited by a trained Restorative Justice practitioner who will talk to you about the crime, how it has affected you and whether taking part in a face-to-face meeting with the offender would be the best way forward. This will be your decision to make, having had the process fully explained by the practitioner. If you agree to a face-to-face meeting, the practitioner will visit the offender and go through a similar process. In order for a Restorative Justice meeting to take place, the offender must admit what they have done and be willing to take part in the process. If both you and the offender agree to a face-to-face meeting, the practitioner will facilitate it in a safe environment. You will be able to take somebody with you as support, whether a family member, friend or someone from a support agency like Victim Support. You will hear the offender take responsibility for their actions and be able to ask them any questions you have. You will also be able to explain how the crime has affected you and those close to you. As Restorative Justice focuses on the future, you will be given the opportunity in the meeting to make suggestions as to what the offender can do to repair the harm caused and to prevent them reoffending. Where can Restorative Justice be utilised? Restorative Justice can be utilised at any stage of the Criminal Justice System. This can be alongside a prosecution, or as part of an alternative to prosecution. Restorative Justice meetings can take place in prisons, community centres, libraries or any other suitable safe environment. What are the key requirements for Restorative Justice?
- Victim is willing to take part in the process
- An offender has been identified, who acknowledges what they have done and is willing to take part in the process
- The process is facilitated by a trained Restorative Justice practitioner in a safe environment
- Structured process to establish the facts and identify how it has affected all involved
Is Restorative Justice available for all types of offences? Restorative Justice can be available across all offence types, subject to an appropriate risk assessment and the key requirements being met. Do I have to meet the person who committed the offence? Involvement in Restorative Justice is based upon informed choice and all interventions are risk assessed to ensure the emotional and physical safety of all those involved. If a face-to-face conference is not deemed safe or if either individual chooses not to take part in this way, there are other methods of communication which can take place between participants, i.e. the exchange of letters/messages via third party practitioners or with the use of audio equipment where appropriate. What if I change my mind half way through? As highlighted above, restorative interventions are completely voluntary and those involved have the choice as to whether they wish to continue with the process at all stages. Restorative practitioners will explore the reasons given for a decision change and will offer additional support and information if this is required, but will not pressure participants to continue if they have decided against involvement. Does Restorative Justice have an impact on reducing the offender’s sentence? Restorative Justice is delivered at various stages within stages the criminal justice system as per below: As part of an out of court disposal – Restorative Justice can be offered as part of an alternative to a Caution **prosecution** for young people/adults who have committed low – level offences. The person harmed by the offence and the person responsible must consent to take part. This is often delivered by the Police or by Community Justice Panel Volunteers. Pre-sentence – Courts are now able to defer a sentence for a period of up to six months to allow Restorative Justice to take place between the person harmed and the person responsible for the offence where both parties consent to take part. The outcome of the intervention will be shared with the Judge and this may inform the sentencing outcome. Post sentence – Restorative Justice takes place between the person harmed and the person responsible for the offence following the sentence outcome and will not have an impact on reducing the sentence. Copyright © 2017 Restorative South Yorkshire. All Rights Reserved.