What is restorative justice?

Becoming a victim of crime is often a traumatic experience. Many victims feel that their life has been turned upside down, and what was once normal and familiar no longer feels safe.

Whilst the criminal justice process deals with the offence, it can sometimes leave those harmed feeling out of control and in need of answers that simply cannot be provided during the formal process.

Restorative Justice can change this.

Restorative justice brings together people harmed by crime or conflict with those responsible for the harm, to find a positive way forward. It aims to give victims a voice.

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.

How does restorative justice work?

Restorative justice is entirely voluntary, and you are free to withdraw at any time.

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.

When is Restorative Justice used?

Restorative justice can be used for any type of crime and at any stage of the criminal justice system, including alongside a prison sentence.

Restorative Justice can only be used when the offender accepts responsibility for the crime and the victim agrees to a restorative approach. Victim participation is always voluntary, based entirely on the victim’s informed choice and delivered at a pace to suit the individual. Restorative Justice is not a soft option – for many offenders, facing up to their actions is very difficult.

Benefits of Restorative Justice

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.

For some people who have been affected by crime it helps them to explore why the crime happened. Evidence shows that most people who take part in a Restorative Justice process come away feeling satisfied because it has allowed them to have their say.

It also helps people to move on and to feel less fearful of crime in the future.

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 can be used for any type of crime and at any stage of the criminal justice system, including alongside a prison sentence.

I want to find out more about Restorative justice in Merseyside

Here on Merseyside, restorative justice is already being used to great effect and it is available to you too.

Restorative Solutions have been commissioned by the region's Police and Crime Commissioner Jane Kennedy to deliver restorative justice across the region. Their restorative justice team can help you find out more about how restorative justice works and whether it could help you cope and recover after a crime.

If you're interested in finding out more or think restorative justice could help you, please contact Restorative Solutions, Merseyside Police Commissioner's commissioned provider of restorative justice on Merseyside.

You can contact the RJ team by email or by calling 07377800254

Visit the Restorative Solutions website

If you had a chance to meet the person who committed a crime against you, what would you do?

Watch the video below for an introduction to Restorative Justice:

 

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