What is restorative justice?
Restorative justice involves contact between the victim and the victim's offender through a restorative justice officer (RJO). Restorative justice balances the concerns of the victim and the community with the need to reintegrate the offender into society and prevent re-offending.
Restorative justice is not a punishment. It is an agreement between victim and offender whereby the offender can make amends for their actions.
How does restorative justice work?
Where the offender has acknowledged responsibility for the offence and has indicated a willingness to meet with the victim, the restorative justice officer will contact the victim and explain the choices available. Participation by both the victim and offender is voluntary.
Where both parties are willing to meet and this is thought to be appropriate by the RJO, a meeting can be arranged either with just the parties or with the parties and their families. Everyone has the chance to have their say, including the victim.
Alternatively, where either the victim and / or offender do not wish to meet, or it is thought inappropriate to do so, the RJO can meet the offender and victim separately in order to pass on concerns, the impact of the offence and possible ways to repair the harm. Other methods of contact between the victim and offender can be used, such as a letter or phone call.
What does restorative justice offer victims?
The project offers victims:
- an explanation as to why the offender chose them
- an opportunity to ask the offender questions
- an opportunity to explain how the crime has affected them
- an apology and some form of compensation if appropriate
What does restorative justice offer offenders?
The project offers offenders:
- an opportunity to acknowledge responsibility for their offence
- greater awareness about the effect of their crime on the victim
- a chance to reassess their future behaviour
- an opportunity to apologise and / or offer appropriate reparation
How successful is restorative justice?
International research has shown that a restorative justice process leads to high rates of victim satisfaction and a reduction in the fear of crime.