Giving you a voice by delivering restorative justice interventions
Imagine being able to speak to the person who committed a crime against you.
Imagine being able to tell them the effect the crime had on you, your life and your family.
Imagine behaving in a way that you now regret and feel remorseful for, and being given an opportunity to repair some of the harm you caused.
Imagine being able to speak with members of your community in order to agree ways in which, despite your differences and historic behaviours, you can move forward and improve where you live.
This can be achieved using restorative practice.
What is restorative justice?
The Ministry of Justice defines restorative justice as:
"The process that brings those harmed by crime and those responsible for the harm into communication, enabling everyone affected by a particular incident to play a part in repairing the harm and finding a positive way forward."
Restorative justice can be used at any stage in the criminal justice process and can involve both direct and indirect communication. It focuses on the needs of the victim but is supportive of all participants. It is a voluntary process.
Under the Victim's Code, victims of crime have the right to be offered restorative justice where it is available.
Restorative practice supports people by enabling them to recognise that all of their activities affect others; that people are responsible for their choices and actions, and can be held accountable for them. It enables people to reflect on how they interact with each other and consider how best to prevent and repair harm and conflict.
The criminal justice process is about bringing offenders to justice and this means that there is no real opportunity for open communication between those directly involved. During this time, victims can often be left feeling that their voices have been lost while offenders focus on minimising the impact on their own lives.
Some victims of crime and anti-social behaviour find that related thoughts, unanswered questions, fears and mental images repeatedly return. Feelings of anger and depression may be impacting on daily life together with frustration that they have not been able to 'have their say'. Offenders feeling shame and remorse may find themselves 'stuck' - one or both parties may be finding it hard to move on. In these and other ways, the harmful event(s) continue to cause harm.
When the time is right, a voluntary restorative justice intervention may help to empower victims and enable offenders to take responsibility for their actions and change behaviours.
Outcomes of restorative justice intervention can include:
- apologies expressed and heard
- victims ask questions, get answers and have their say
- reparation in the form of financial compensation or planned activity
- other agreed future actions and commitments such as agreement not to behave in a particular way
- reduction in re-offending/changed behaviours
- in cases of ongoing community tensions (see below), channels of communication are opened and ways of dealing with future conflict may be agreed
- some closure is achieved for one or both parties
This means that restorative justice helps to make communities stronger and safer.
For more information about restorative justice visit the Restorative Justice Council's website.
Restorative justice and community conflict
Restorative justice can also be used to mediate ongoing conflict within communities and neighbourhoods. Impartial facilitators assist those involved by bringing them into communication so they can work together in good faith and find ways to improve things. As such, those most involved and most affected by the conflict decide what needs to be done. They agree outcomes which are captured in a morally binding outcome agreement and then commit to do their best to abide by it, this way participants own the solutions.
How we're providing restorative justice in Dorset
The Office of the Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner has commissioned the Borough of Poole through the Safer Poole Partnership to deliver a restorative justice service for adults to support those involved in crime or anti-social behaviour across Dorset.
Restorative Dorset, launched in September 2017 is developing the use of restorative practices across Dorset; building upon work already carried out in Poole and West Dorset by skilled and experienced volunteer facilitators. If you are interested in volunteering with us, we advertise on https://jobs.bcpcouncil.gov.uk when we are recruiting.
Restorative justice facilitators work with and receive referrals from those already making a difference in our communities such as Dorset Police, victim support, prisons, housing associations, the National Probation Service and anti-social behaviour teams.
I am interested, what next?
If you would like to talk to someone in confidence about restorative justice or or are interested in what is involved in becoming a volunteer with us please contact:
The Restorative Dorset Team, 01202 223106, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you do not manage to speak to a person first time, please leave a message with your contact details and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
Page last updated: 30 January 2020