Celebrating International Restorative Justice Week

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Author: 
Jon Collins
Date: 
21 November 2016

This week is International Restorative Justice Week. It’s an opportunity to reflect on the progress made in the restorative practice field in the last year, to look forward to what’s coming up in the future, and to celebrate the great restorative work going on around the country.

At the RJC, we’re holding our annual conference tomorrow. It’s been fully booked for a while, demonstrating the strength of the field and the interest in networking, collaborating and sharing best practice. We’re also releasing six new films that tell the stories of people who have participated in restorative justice. Their experiences are a testament to the powerful impact that restorative justice can have on both victims and offenders. I hope you enjoy them.

I will also be speaking at an event in Brighton on the work going on in Brighton and Hove to create a restorative city, while colleagues will be attending events in Leeds to discuss embedding restorative practice into children’s services and in Thames Valley to celebrate 15 years of the outstanding restorative work of the Thames Valley Partnership. The diversity of these events alone demonstrates the breadth of work that’s going on in the restorative practice field.

This diversity was also exemplified by two events that I contributed to last week. The first, Remedi’s celebration of their 20th anniversary, reminded me yet again of the capacity of restorative justice to transform lives. Jacob Dunne and Joan Scourfield’s account of how meeting through restorative justice has led to them to campaign together was particularly powerful, but there were myriad other examples of what a difference restorative justice had made to those who took part. Both victims and offenders spoke compellingly about how restorative processes had affected them. Each of them had a unique story, but in every case restorative justice had helped them to move on.

The second was an event held to present Wakefield Youth Offending Team’s restorative justice service with the RJC’s Restorative Service Quality Mark. The event was an opportunity to discuss and showcase the work that’s going on within Wakefield, not just within the criminal justice system but also in schools and with families. The Director for Children and Young People powerfully articulated a vision for their work with young people that embraced restorative practice, demonstrating the emphasis placed on a restorative approach. Partners, staff and volunteers at the event were equally convinced of its value. It was an impressive day out.

These are just a couple of the many, many examples of impressive restorative work going on around the country that I’ve encountered recently. The use of restorative practice both within and outside of the criminal justice system is growing and developing, with an increase in the use of restorative justice coupled with a growing recognition of the value of restorative practice in other sectors.

But despite this positive overall picture, there’s still a great deal to do. We – both the RJC and our members – need to continue to raise awareness of restorative practice and to push for its wider use. We know how much positive difference it can make and it should therefore be made more widely available so that more people can benefit. Progress is being made but there’s more that can be done, and International Restorative Justice Week is a good opportunity to come together as a field to discuss how forthcoming challenges can be met.

I look forward to seeing many of you at our event or other events around the country this week. And I look forward to working with you all over the next year to make our vision, of a society where high quality restorative practice is available to all, a reality.

Are you a member of the RJC? If not then what better time to join than during International Restorative Justice Week. You can find out more about membership here.