What is Restorative Justice?
Restorative Justice (RJ) seeks to repair the harm caused by an offence.
How does it do that?
Restorative Justice gives victims the chance to meet or communicate with the offender (either directly or indirectly) to explain the real impact of the crime – it empowers the victim by giving them a voice and it also holds offenders to account for what they have done and helps them to take responsibility and make amends.
Restorative Justice is about victims and offenders communicating within a safe, supported and controlled environment to talk about the harm that has been caused and find a way to repair that harm. Victims say that talking to, or meeting the person who has harmed them can be a huge step in moving forward and recovering from the crime. For offenders, the experience can be incredibly challenging as it confronts them with the personal impact of their crime.
West Mercia Youth Justice Service and Restorative Justice
West Mercia Youth Justice Service’s restorative practice takes into consideration the needs and wishes of all those affected by criminal, anti-social or unacceptable behaviour. In doing this, we will recognise diversity and culture and wherever possible will address the needs of the person harmed, as well as providing a service which is based around restorative principles that are meaningful and appropriate to the victim’s wishes. We are committed to working restoratively with young people, their parents, carers, families and the person harmed.
WMYJS aim to provide a safe environment in which to restore the balance in the community and repair the harm that has been caused by inappropriate actions or behaviour of the young people we work with. We will identify restorative practice as a response to a wrong doing and focus on restoration for the harm that has been caused, holding the harmer accountable for their behaviour and restoring community cohesion.
Restorative Justice Conferences
Restorative Justice Conferences are where a victim meets the offender face to face, or on a virtual platform (video call). All Conferences are led by a trained facilitator who supports and prepares the people taking part and makes sure that the process is safe and suitable for all. This will be someone from WMYJS. Sometimes, if a face to face meeting is not the best way forward, the facilitator will arrange for the victim and offender to communicate via letters, recorded interviews or video recordings. It will be whatever the victim and young person want but the victim’s wishes and safety will always be paramount in any decision made.
For any kind of communication to take place, the offender must have admitted to the crime, and both victim and offender must be willing to participate and agree what that participation will be.
Reparation is a practical way to pay back for the harm caused by the offence, either by directly repairing the harm, or indirectly through constructive work to help the local community. It is the act or process of making amends. It is designed to help young people understand the consequences of offending and to take responsibility for their behaviour. The victim is consulted about what could be done either for them (Direct Reparation) or what they feel may assist in the community (Indirect Reparation). All reparation work is supervised at all times by staff from WMYJS.
- Direct Reparation: Work that is undertaken by the young person specifically to the person harmed by the crime. This could be repairing or painting a fence that has been broken, doing the garden, mowing their lawn. This type of reparation is when the victim is able to ask for damage to property to be repaired. Or, it can be where the victim asks for something to be done that directly links to the crime committed. It can also lead to a further restorative outcome, such as a direct meeting or conference.
- Indirect Reparation: Mainly community based work, such as helping a local charity repair furniture or clean buildings. It can include general maintenance, cleaning or clearing work at local community centres, care homes, or on council land. It can also include creating / making things to sell with the money made going to a charity of the victim’s choice. This type of reparation gives back to the local community. Victims can be consulted in terms of what community reparation is available and share their views on what they feel would be a good way for the young person to repair the harm.
This is a photo that shows how pallets were used by young people to create planters during lockdown, when community venues for doing reparation were very limited.
The planters were made, filled with seasonal produce or flowers then given to a local care home for residents to use / look at, at the bequest of a victim.