What is Restorative Justice?
Restorative Justice (RJ) acknowledges the fact that harm has been done to people and relationships. This process allows the victim, the offender and community members to talk to each other with the intent of finding a way to repair the harm done. During the process offenders must take responsibility and display a willingness to be accountable for the harm done, not only to the victim, but to the community and to themselves.
A crime is not just about breaking the law. More importantly, it is about damaging relationships between members of the community. It creates an emotional wound that requires emotional healing.
RJ can be used in many situations to prevent conflict, build relationships and repair harm by enabling people to communicate effectively and positively and can involve both proactive approach by preventing harm and conflict along with activities to repair harm already done.
Restorative practice supports people to acknowledge the impact of their activities on others, recognise that people are responsible for their choices and actions and can be held accountable for them. It also gives them an opportunity to make reparation to the victim and wider community where appropriate.
RJ can be used to deal with anti-social behaviour and neighbourhood disputes, resolving workplace disputes and disciplinary matters.
How does it work?
Participation by all parties is voluntary based on informed choice. The process consists of pre-meetings/telephone conversations with an impartial RJ Facilitator to discuss what has happened and what their desired outcomes are. The same Facilitator will meet with both parties. Ideally this will lead to a facilitated face to face meeting in a controlled environment. At the meeting everyone will be given an opportunity to express their feelings, the impact the incident(s) have had on their lives and to jointly work to a mutually agreed outcome.
The face to face meeting is very structured and is not an opportunity for a slanging match. Both parties will have the opportunity to have one or more ‘supporters’ attend the meeting. This will be agreed prior to the meeting and no ‘surprise’ attendees will be allowed.
This is done in a controlled environment, enabling everyone affected by a particular incident to play a part in repairing the harm and finding a positive way forward.
Northampton Borough Council is a Restorative Justice organisation
If you have been a victim of crime and think you would benefit from Restorative Justice contact Debbie MacColl, 01604 837752, email: [email protected]