The aim of Restorative Justice is to balance the concerns of the victim and the community with the need to reintegrate the offender into society and prevent re offending.
Victims of crime can, in appropriate cases, either meet the people who have committed offences against them or make their views known to them through the Restorative Justice Officer.
The project offers victims:
An explanation as to why the offender chose them
An opportunity to ask questions of the offender and to explain how the crime has affected them
An apology and some form of reparation if appropriate
International research has demonstrated that a restorative Justice process leads to high rates of victim satisfaction and a reduction in the fear of crime.
It offers offenders:
An opportunity to own the responsibility for their offence
Greater awareness about the effect of their crime on the victim
A chance to reassess their future behaviour
An opportunity to apologise and/or offer appropriate reparation e.g. repairing damage or cleaning graffiti
The main goal of Restorative Justice is not punishment but producing an agreement between victim and offender whereby the offender can make amends for their actions.
The method involves calling together the offender and his or her family and the victims of the offending with their supporters to a conference to discuss and attempt to right the harm caused by the crime. Everyone has a chance to have their say, including the victim. Should a conference be deemed inappropriate by the Restorative Justice Officer, then other contact methods can be used, such as a letter or phone call.
It is important to stress that participation is completely voluntary for everyone.
Since the inception of the project the Probation Service has monitored the impact of the Restorative Justice process on the participants. We have been greatly encouraged by the many positive responses received from victims, offenders and other participants who have experienced the scheme.