Restorative justice is a voluntary process bringing together people that have been harmed by crime or conflict, people that have done the harm, and anyone else that has been affected (such as family members or friends) in order to discuss openly about what happened and find constructive ways to address the harm.
Restorative justice is a flexible process, meaning that it can be organised in a way that fits the wishes and needs of those participating. For example, restorative justice can take place face to face or through audio/video calls, it can be done through an independent intermediary (often referred to as ‘shuttle mediation’), through a representative or through letter writing. Whatever the choice, decisions about how the process looks like are reached collaboratively and take account of participants’ wishes and needs.
Restorative justice is a fair and safe process that offers victims, offenders and other people impacted by harm the opportunity to ask questions, share their views and be acknowledged for how they feel. All these take place in a respectful environment that is guided by commonly agreed rules of behaviour.
Restorative justice is a growing area of practice. It has been extensively used within the criminal justice system, where the focus is on the harm resulted from crimes. But there is also an increasing interest in using restorative justice in other areas such as schools, social care, and the workplace; in these instances, the focus is on the harm resulted from conflicts or other impactful events.
Information for victims
Restorative justice is a process that offers you the opportunity to ask questions and explain to the person that harmed you the real impact that the harm has had on you. If you are a victim of crime, you are entitled to receive information about restorative justice and how you can take part in it from your first contact with the police. Restorative justice will be explained to you so that you have an informed choice about whether you wish to participate. You should not be pressured into taking part in restorative justice. If you do not want to take part in it, you can ask the police not to pass on your details to organisation delivering restorative justice services. If the person that has harmed you is under the age of 18, you are entitled to be offered participation in restorative justice by the Youth Offending Team in your area. As before, if you do not want to take part in it, you can ask the police not to pass on your details to a Youth Offending Team. All these entitlements are established through the Victims’ Code. You can also watch the video on this page produced by the Restorative Justice Council, which explains how restorative justice can help victims of crime throughout their journeys in the criminal justice process.
Information for offenders
Restorative justice is a process that offers you the opportunity to take responsibility for the harm caused, answer questions and make amends. If you have perpetrated a crime, you can ask to take part in restorative justice from police, the prosecution office, the court, the youth offending team, the probation service or the prison, whichever applies. However, given that it is a voluntary process, organising a restorative justice process will depend on whether the victim will want to take part. If a conversation with the victim cannot be arranged, there are other ways through which you can take responsibility for the harm caused and make amends if you wish so. Similarly, if you are invited to take part in restorative justice, you have the right to refuse the offer without any consequences arising from this. Restorative justice will produce a positive outcome for all those involved only when you are ready to take responsibility for the harm caused, answer any questions the victims and their supporters might have, and are willing to make amends.
Information for family members and friends
Restorative justice is a process that offers you the opportunity to say how you have been impacted by the crime or conflict and to offer support to those whom you care about.
Information for professionals
No matter what services you provide or to whom you provide them, restorative justice is a process that can support the direct work you do with people.