What is it?
Restorative justice enables victims to meet or communicate with their offender to explain the real impact of the crime they have committed and to ask questions important to them. It helps to repair the damage caused by criminality and puts the needs of the victim first. When a crime takes place, restorative justice can be used to give the victim, offender and occasionally members of the community the chance to come together and discuss how the harm can be rectified. The process not only helps victims gain closure on their cases by explaining to offenders the impact of their actions, it also encourages offenders to take responsibility for their behaviour. The long-term goal of restorative justice is to reduce criminality; research shows offenders who take part in restorative justice with their victims are less likely to reoffend.
When is it used?
Restorative Justice can only be used when the offender accepts responsibility for the crime and the victim agrees to a restorative approach. Restorative Justice can be used at any stage of the criminal justice system and can be delivered across all offences. Victim participation is always voluntary and delivered at a pace to suit the individual. Restorative justice is not a soft option – facing up to their actions is very difficult for many offenders. Victim participation is always voluntary and based entirely on the informed choice of the victim.
Who can use it?
Restorative justice procedures can be used by police officers, PCSOs, county council community wardens and partner agency staff who have been trained to use it. These people work closely with mediation services and youth offending teams to provide support to those affected.
How does it work?
When an offence is committed, police officers will discuss the use of restorative justice with the victim, the offender and any other third party. Victims may also be contacted at a later stage of the criminal justice process to offer them the opportunity to take part. In all cases where the victim is interested a trained facilitator will meet with them to discuss their options for involvement. Victims, at all times, are then given the opportunity to make an informed choice regarding their wishes to take part or not.
What are the different types of restorative intervention?
Types of Restorative Justice include:
* Face-to-face meeting between the victim/s and offender/s- this is only facilitated after careful preparation and would take place in a controlled environment with facilitators present throughout.
* Written communication- Facilitators will take the various questions the victim has to the offender and seek a written response to those questions.
* ‘Shuttle RJ’- A facilitator exchanging information/answers between the victim and offender verbally without them meeting.
Restorative Justice Referral
All police officers and Police Community Support Officers in Derbyshire have been trained to resolve local crimes in this way. Historic offences are still open for Restorative Justice if both the victim and offender agree.