If you are a victim of a crime, you may be invited to take part in a restorative justice (RJ) process. This provides the opportunity for those directly affected by an offence – victim, offender and members of the community – to communicate and agree how to deal with the offence and its consequences.
Restorative processes typically result in the offender making practical amends (reparation) to repair the harm – this may include an apology. Communication between victim and offender can help victims put the offence behind them and be more satisfied with the outcome.
RJ is an important part of youth justice orders and sentences, from Youth Conditional Cautions and Referral Orders to Reparation Orders, Youth Rehabilitation Orders and custodial sentences . The best known and most commonly used restorative processes are:
Victim–offender mediation - The victim and offender, helped by an independent person, communicate with one another. This may be by direct meeting or, if preferred by either the victim or the offender, indirectly with the third person acting as ‘go between’ in a ‘shuttle mediation’. Questions may be asked, information exchanged and an agreement reached.
Restorative conferencing - Supporters, as well as victim and offender, meet together in a conference run by a trained person. At the end, agreements are made that set out what the offender will do to deal with the harm done.
Family group conferencing - The young person who has offended meets with members of his/her extended family, and possibly representatives of agencies, e.g. social services and schools. They work together to identify what has happened, and how the family will support the young person to put it right.
Referral Order Youth Offender Panels - Young offenders and their parents meet with trained community volunteer panel members to discuss the offence and its consequences, and to agree a contract to repair the harm and address the causes of offending behaviour. Victims are invited to attend or have their views put before the panel as they prefer.