What is Restorative Justice?
Restorative Justice (RJ) is a victim centred approach and brings those harmed or affected by crime or conflict and those responsible into communication.
- RJ gives those involved in crime a chance to explain/hear the impact of the harm caused through safe communication, support and encouragement
- Victims can explain how it made them feel, describe the consequences, ask questions, receive an explanation and seek an apology if they wish
- Offenders can take responsibility for their actions, offer an explanation and take steps to repair the harm
- RJ can be direct (a face-to-face conference) or indirect (communication via a facilitator) but is tailored to those involved to ensure the process is safe for all involved
- For RJ to take place, both parties must be willing to participate and the offender has to admit wrongdoing
- RJ progresses at an agreed pace - if/when everyone is ready
- RJ is not a criminal justice outcome but can be used alongside any such outcome, or as a Community Remedy in the Community Resolution process
How is Restorative Justice used in Norfolk & Suffolk?
Restorative Approaches are used in many environments: in schools, communities, children’s homes and in the workplace. When used alongside the criminal justice system the process is known as Restorative Justice. RJ is the process of bringing together those harmed (victim) and the harmer (offender) in order for the harm caused, to be addressed and, where possible, repaired.
Individuals can self-refer to our service or professionals from a range of agencies can make a referral on behalf of a victim or offender, as long as they have their consent. Following receipt of a referral at the RJ Hub, our trained Advisors will make initial enquiries to understand the case and if it is appropriate for RJ. If suitable, your case may be facilitated by an RJ Advisor from the hub, or a local RJ Practitioner – this may be an RJ trained police officer. The facilitator will always be someone who is adequately trained to the level required for your case. Initial individual meetings are then set up with victim and offender and our risk assessments process is begun. Following this, if agreed by all parties and deemed safe to do so, a restorative process is then agreed – this could be a face-to-face conference, shuttle mediation or a letter of explanation and the preparation stage beings. Preparation can take place in a single meeting or take many weeks or months. Once a restorative process has been completed, an outcome agreement might be reached and drawn up; support to complete this and support for individuals can continue after the process for as long as required. Our facilitators may also sign post you to other agencies for different services.
If it is considered that your case is not suitable, either at the referral stage, following initial assessment or at any stage during preparation then we will clearly explain the reasons why and signpost you to another service where possible.
Self-refer to us
Remember… Restorative Justice can take place at any time in your journey of recovery and you should never feel pressured into doing it. If you would like more information or would like to be considered to take part in Restorative Justice, contact us via email at [email protected] or [email protected].
Alternatively, partner agencies (such as Victim Support or National Probation Service) are able to make a referral on your behalf, with your consent.
Find out more about Restorative Justice
Hear from some of the victims who have benefited from our Restorative Justice Service.
“I’m just relieved, it helped with everything really. It helped with my family, they could see I felt better.” - Victim of assault and criminal damage, Suffolk.
"I felt comfortable and not pressured. Talking really helped everything. As time went on I felt more able to talk about things and felt much better." - Victim of assault, Norfolk.
“It's a real help to know the person. She was just a name before, a press report and a sentence. Now she is real.” - Victim of burglary, Norfolk.
“I thought it a really useful mechanism for dealing with the situation so positively. I am sure the nature of the process will stick with him [the offender] for a very long time. It's positive, adds value to people’s lives and is real. The whole process was very professional.” - Victim of criminal damage, Suffolk.
What's in it for me?
Victims of crime:
As Restorative Justice (RJ) is victim centred, it gives you a voice, empowers you to seek answers to your questions and allows you to be heard. Victims are the most effected by crime, yet often the least involved with the Criminal Justice process and the outcome reached. Participating in RJ enables you to engage in communication with the individual(s) who caused you harm in a safe, supported and managed environment.
RJ has been evidenced to be a very positive experience for participating victims with 85% stating that they were happy with the process and would recommend it to others* [2001 Ministry of Justice report]. Recent research has also shown that victims who participate in RJ are 49% less likely to suffer from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) [2001 Ministry of Justice report].
RJ does not influence the length of any sentence received, parole decisions made, licence conditions set or early release. However, RJ does give you the opportunity to personally take responsibility for your actions, repair some of the harm caused and make amends, as RJ directly relates to the crime committed by you.
RJ is not a 'soft option'; it takes courage to face up to what you have done, take responsibility and listen to the harm you have caused.
Participating in RJ can provide the motivation for individuals to change - understanding the harm that their actions have caused, to drive them to turn away from criminality. It has inspired others to do just this and by participating in RJ, to give something back to their victims. RJ has the potential to stop the 'revolving door' of prisons and is a proven to lower the re-offending rate (by 14%* [2001 Ministry of Justice report]) thus benefitting the community/any potential future victims, as well as an offender and their family.
Who is eligible for Restorative Justice?
Everyone - RJ can be used at any stage of and alongside the criminal justice process for any offence, and antisocial behaviour.
Each case is assessed by a specialist, skilled and highly trained RJ Advisor taking into account each party’s views, any risks to any participant, and how those risks might be removed or reduced. The referrer is contacted, either to start the RJ process or explain why RJ is not appropriate. If suitable, depending on the sensitivity and/or complexity of the incident, a suitably trained Police Officer or our specialist police staff Restorative Justice Advisors will be allocated; only our most experienced Officers and Advisors will be working with those cases assessed as serious or complex or where it is identified that a participant has any particular vulnerabilities for example in cases involving sexually harmful behaviour or hate crime.
As part of the government’s ‘Code of Practice for Victims’, all victims of crime are entitled to receive information about Restorative Justice and how they can access it.
Where can I find more information about Restorative Justice?
The government’s ‘Code of Practice for Victims’ states that “If the offender is an adult, you are entitled to receive information on Restorative Justice from the police or other organisation that delivers Restorative Justice services for victims in your area, including how you could take part” [Chapter 2 Paragraph 7.7]
Alternatively you can find more information from the Restorative Justice Council - https://restorativejustice.org.uk/
How can I volunteer?
If you want to get involved in delivering Restorative Justice in Norfolk and/or Suffolk, contact us at [email protected] or [email protected] and let us know about your interest in RJ, any training or experience you have had or training you would like to have, as well as your contact information and availability.