What is Restorative Justice?
Restorative Justice (RJ) is about communication between victims and offenders. It empowers victims by giving them an opportunity to both ask questions of and explain to offenders the real impact of the crime. Offenders are held to account for what they have done and encouraged to take responsibility and make amends. RJ therefore aims to increase the empowerment and wellbeing of the victim after the crime and informs the experience of the offender in planning their life for the future.
Government research demonstrates that Restorative Justice provides an 85% victim satisfaction rate and a 14% reduction in the frequency of re-offending.
Possibilities for restorative processes include;
- contact or indirect contact via a facilitator or others
- the "shuttle process" - where the facilitator goes back and forth between the parties
- the exchange of written correspondence directly between victim and offender
- RJ "conferences" - where a facilitator brings together a victim and offender and together they talk through the offence and its impact
- direct reparation or indirect reparation may then be agreed between the participants as part of a conference agreement
A meeting between victim and offender takes place after the preparation of both parties who have given their full and informed consent to taking part in a face-to-face meeting. The process will take place at the pace determined by the participants and may include meetings with other key figures, including family, friends and supporters. The process is about building understanding and confidence, with an agreement on some form of reparation being the end of a journey.
Traditionally RJ has been primarily offender-led whereas the service offered by Victims First and provided by Thames Valley Restorative Justice Service is Victim-Initiated RJ.
This gives the victim the opportunity to request RJ themselves, during any stage of the criminal justice process and for any crime type.
Victims First provide Victim-Initiated RJ to support victims across the Thames Valley.
There is strong evidence to show that RJ helps victims to cope and recover from the impact of the crime:
- 72% of victims said their conference had provided them with a sense of closure.
- 85% of victims were very or quite satisfied with their RJ conference
- 78% of victims would recommend to others
If you have been a victim of crime and are considering RJ you can contact Thames Valley Restorative Justice Service (TVRJS), on 01844 202001. They will help guide you through what the process entails, what you might expect from it and whether you think it might be beneficial to you.