7 common restorative justice questions answered
If you’re a victim of crime and have come across the term ‘restorative justice’, you’ll doubtless have a whole bunch of questions to which you need answers.
Restorative practice has proved to be a fantastic method of dealing with crime for many victims, with 85% typically coming away feeling satisfied.
But it isn’t for everyone, which is why we’ve decided to delve into the seven most common questions asked about restorative justice and offer some guidance on each:
1. What is restorative justice, exactly?
Restorative justice gives victims of crime the chance to meet or speak with their offender either in person or via remote communication (for example, letter, email or recorded interview).
It’s designed to give victims a voice and to hold offenders to account. For many victims, this can be empowering, while the offender is given the opportunity to take responsibility for their actions and make amends.
2. What offences does it best suit?
Restorative justice can be used for most forms of crime from low-level offences to those that are more serious.
It should be noted, however, that some crimes pose particular challenges for the restorative process, including hate crime, domestic violence and sexual offences – but it can still help the victims involved.
When the case is particularly serious, the restorative practice is typically handled by a senior practitioner with relevant skills and experience.
3. Is restorative justice just for crimes that have been reported to the police?
Far from it.
Restorative justice is designed to not only help those who have had offences committed against them, but also to resolve conflicts and to prevent them from escalating.
In Northamptonshire, restorative justice has been used to resolve conflicts between parents, neighbours, school children – people from all walks of life, to help them get on with their lives and divert away from any anti-social behaviour.
4. Why would I want to take part?
Restorative justice puts you at the heart of the process, and gives you the chance to ask the offender questions, to understand any motives as to why they decided to commit this crime.
If you feel like you’ve lost your voice as a victim of crime, this could be the perfect opportunity to find it once more.
For many victims, just meeting the person responsible for the crime can be a massive step forward in the recovery process.
5. Is it safe?
The people tasked with facilitating restorative justice programs are highly trained and benefit from many years’ experience in the field.
The entire process is designed so that no one can come to harm; restorative justice simply wouldn’t be as popular as it is today if it couldn’t be undertaken safely.
Remember, communication with the offender can take place via email, letter, phone call and video call, as well as face to face. At all times communication can go through an intermediary – commonly a restorative practice coordinator – to ensure the victim is never harmed by anything that has been said.
6. When does restorative justice take place?
Providing the offender has admitted to the crime and both parties are willing to participate, restorative justice can take place during any stage of the criminal justice process – whether that be before any possible court date, during a prison term or years after. IT really is up to you when you would like to initiate the process.
7. Can I stop the process if it becomes too much?
Remember – restorative justice is completely voluntary, and it’s entirely up to you if you want to end the process early.
It’s the facilitator’s job to ensure you know what to expect and that there are no surprises as the process unfolds, but the decision of whether or not to go through with it is entirely your own.
Restorative justice is a choice; it’s entirely up to you whether or not to get involved.
Hopefully, the above will have offered you some reassurance on the process, but if you’d like to talk to someone in confidence about restorative practices in more detail, please do not hesitate to get in touch with the Voice team.