In criminal justice, restorative practice is widely known as restorative justice. Restorative justice gives victims the chance to meet or communicate with their offenders to explain the real impact of the crime – it empowers victims by giving them a voice.
It also holds offenders to account for what they have done and helps them to take responsibility and make amends. Government research demonstrates that restorative justice provides an 85% victim satisfaction rate, and a 14% reduction in the frequency of reoffending.
Restorative justice is about victims and offenders communicating within a controlled environment to talk about the harm that has been caused and finding a way to repair that harm.
For offenders, the experience can be incredibly challenging as it confronts them with the personal impact of their crime. For victims, meeting the person who has harmed them can be a huge step in moving forward and recovering from the crime.
Restorative justice conferences, where a victim meets their offender, are led by a facilitator who supports and prepares the people taking part and makes sure that the process is safe. Sometimes, when a face to face meeting is not the best way forward, the facilitator will arrange for the victim and offender to communicate via letters, recorded interviews or video.
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.
Restorative justice can be used for any type of crime and at any stage of the criminal justice system, including alongside a prison sentence. The RJC advocates the use of safe, high quality restorative justice wherever and whenever it is needed.
The evidence supporting the use of restorative justice is summarised here.