Restorative justice (RJ) is a relatively new approach to trying to deal with the harm done by crime and other conflicts.
It gives victims a chance to explain to offenders the real impact of their crime, to get answers to their questions. It allows victims to ask 'why me?' and provides them with the opportunity to challenge the offender’s behaviour.
It can also empower victims, giving them the opportunity to meet or communicate with their offenders in a safe environment to have their say. This process also enables victims to hold offenders to account for what they have done and helps them to take responsibility and make amends, which can also have the effect of helping to stop reoffending.
For victims, meeting the person who has harmed them can be a huge step in moving forward and recovering from that crime.
Restorative justice is not a ‘soft option’. Meetings between victim and offender can be very powerful and have a huge impact on victim recovery. For any kind of communication to take place the offender must have admitted to the crime, and both victim and offender must be willing to participate.
Benefits of restorative justice include restoring victim’s confidence, to allow them to cope and recover from what can often be a horrendous life changing incident.
How does restorative justice work?
Restorative justice should always be voluntary.
Facilitators help people taking part in restorative justice and are there to make sure the process is safe.
Meeting an offender face to face is one option, but the facilitator could also arrange for a victim of crime and an offender to communicate via letters, recorded interviews or video.
Restorative justice can be used for any type of crime and at any stage of the criminal justice system, including alongside a prison sentence.
Studies on restorative justice have highlighted:
- 85% of victims who participated in face-to-face restorative justice were satisfied
- Restorative justice reduces the frequency of reoffending and led to £8 savings for every £1 spent
- 78% of victims that participated would recommend restorative justice to other victims
- Restorative justice reduced Post Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms for victims
- Restorative justice has been found to significantly reduce levels of fear and anger in victims
Restorative justice in action on Merseyside
If you're interested in finding out more or think restorative justice could help you, please contact Victim Support, Merseyside Police Commissioner's commissioned provider of restorative justice on Merseyside.
To find out more about accessing restorative justice on Merseyside, please click here.
If you had a chance to meet the person who committed a crime against you, what would you do?
Find out more about how restorative justice works through this short video put together by the Merseyside Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC).