What is restorative justice?

Restorative justice enables victims to meet or communicate with their offender to explain the real impact of the crime. This is part of a wider field called restorative practice.

Restorative practice can be used anywhere to prevent conflict, build relationships and repair harm by enabling people to communicate effectively and positively. Restorative practice is increasingly being used in schools, children’s services, workplaces, hospitals, communities and the criminal justice system.

Restorative practice can involve both a proactive approach to preventing harm and conflict and activities that repair harm where conflicts have already arisen.

Where the latter is required, a facilitated restorative meeting can be held. This enables individuals and groups to work together to improve their mutual understanding of an issue and jointly reach the best available solution. But in many cases a less formal approach, based on restorative principles, may be more appropriate.

Restorative practice supports people to recognise that all of their activities affect others and 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 harm and conflict.

Find out more about how restorative practice is used in different areas, including in the criminal justice system – where it is normally known as restorative justice – by using the menu to the left.