Evidence supporting the use of restorative justice

The evidence

Restorative justice works.  The evidence shows that restorative justice meets the needs of victims and reduces the frequency of reoffending.

In 2001, the government funded a £7 million, seven year research programme into restorative justice. The independent evaluation, published by the Ministry of Justice, found that in a randomised control trial of the use of restorative justice with adult offenders:

  • The majority of victims chose to participate in face to face meetings with the offender, when offered by a trained facilitator.
  • 85% of victims who took part were satisfied with the process.
  • Restorative justice reduced the frequency of reoffending, leading to £9 in savings to the criminal justice system for every £1 spent on restorative justice.

The government’s analysis of this research has concluded that restorative justice reduces the frequency of reoffending by 14%.

A systematic review of the evidence on the effectiveness of restorative justice was published by the Campbell Collaboration in 2013. It concludes that restorative justice both reduces reoffending and improves victim satisfaction. It is available on the Campbell Collaboration’s website.

The economic case for restorative justice

The use of restorative justice can save money by diverting people away from prosecution and by reducing reoffending

Analysis by the Restorative Justice Council and Victim Support demonstrated that providing restorative justice in 70,000 cases involving adult offenders would deliver £185 million in cashable cost savings to the criminal justice system over two years, through reductions in reoffending alone. The report is available here.

An independent expert analysis of the economic benefits of restorative justice, carried out by Matrix, found that diverting young offenders from community orders to a pre-court restorative justice conferencing scheme would produce a life time saving to society of almost £275 million (£7,050 per offender). The cost of implementing the scheme would be paid back in the first year and during the course of two parliaments society would benefit by over £1 billion. The report is available here.

A business case for the use of restorative justice in policing has been developed by Garry Shewan, National Police Chiefs’ Council lead on restorative justice. It concludes that restorative justice can help to deliver efficiency savings. It is available here.

Resource themes: 
Criminal justice
Resource categories: 
Policy - Government, Policy - RJC, Research