Restorative Justice (RJ) is a victim centred approach which brings those harmed or affected by crime or conflict and those responsible into communication.
Dawn Lamb from the Norfolk and Suffolk Restorative Justice Service explains what RJ is and how it can help both victims of crime and offenders (filming credit: Champaigne Photography).
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- RJ gives those involved in crime a chance to explain/hear the impact of the harm caused through safe communication, support and encouragement
- Victims can explain how it made them feel, describe the consequences, ask questions, receive an explanation and seek an apology if they wish
- Offenders can take responsibility for their actions, offer an explanation and take steps to repair the harm
- RJ can be direct (a face-to-face conference) or indirect (communication via a facilitator) but is tailored to those involved to ensure the process is safe for all involved
- For RJ to take place, both parties must be willing to participate and the offender has to admit wrongdoing
- RJ progresses at an agreed pace – if/when everyone is ready
- RJ is not a criminal justice outcome but can be used alongside any such outcome, or as a Community Remedy in the Community Resolution process
Restorative Justice can take place at any time in your journey of recovery and you should never feel pressured into doing it.
If you would like more information or would like to be considered to take part in Restorative Justice:
Individuals can self-refer to the service or professionals from a range of agencies can make a referral on behalf of a victim or offender, as long as they have their consent. Following receipt of a referral at the RJ Hub, trained Advisors will make initial enquiries to understand the case and if it is appropriate for RJ. If suitable, your case may be facilitated by an RJ Advisor from the hub, or a local RJ Practitioner – this may be an RJ trained police officer.
The facilitator will always be someone who is adequately trained to the level required for your case. Initial individual meetings are then set up with victim and offender and our risk assessments process is begun. Following this, if agreed by all parties and deemed safe to do so, a restorative process is then agreed – this could be a face-to-face conference, shuttle mediation or a letter of explanation - and the preparation stage begins. Preparation can take place in a single meeting or take many weeks or months.
Once a restorative process has been completed, an outcome agreement might be reached and drawn up; support to complete this and support for individuals can continue after the process for as long as required. Facilitators may also signpost you to other agencies for different services.
If it is considered that your case is not suitable, either at the referral stage, following initial assessment or at any stage during preparation then the reasons will be clearly explained and you will be signposted to another service where possible.
Restorative Justice is one part of a wider approach to giving victims of crime in Norfolk a greater say in how people who commit crime or anti-social behaviour (ASB) are dealt with. This approach is known as Community Remedy.
The Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 placed a requirement on the Police and Crime Commissioner, in consultation with the Chief Constable, to publish a Community Remedy Document. Norfolk’s Community Remedy Document outlines a menu of options to support police officers to deal with low-level offences in order to improve public confidence in the use of out-of-court disposals and consider the views of the victim.
The Community Remedy Document should be used for offences which are dealt with out of court. In this sense it simply formalises for the public the range of tactics police officers can use for a community resolution.
The Community Remedy is a list of options for activity, any of which might be appropriate in a particular case, to be imposed upon a person who:
- Has engaged in anti-social behaviour or has committed an offence, and
- Is to be dealt with for that behaviour or offence without court proceedings.
The following people can use a community remedy:
- A police officer
- An investigating officer
- A person authorised by a relevant prosecutor for conditional cautions or youth conditional cautions.
The Norfolk Community Remedy has the following options:
- Instant Restorative Justice (RJ) e.g. verbal apology
- Letter of explanation
- Shuttle mediation/RJ Conference
- Agreement not to behave anti-socially in future (Acceptable Behaviour Contract)
- Direct reparation (e.g. repairing/paying for the damage/returning stolen property)
- Participation in structured activities that are either educational or rehabilitative
- Reparation to the community (for example by doing unpaid work for a short period)
The options should have a positive impact on the offender, such as:
- a punitive element: reflecting the effects on the victim and the wider community; or
- a restorative element: achieving appropriate reparation to the victim; or
- a rehabilitative element: helping to address the causes of the perpetrator’s behaviour; or
- a combination of any, or all, of the above.