Restorative Justice

Although retributive approaches to crime remain the default position of most politicians and many members of the public, restorative approaches have been used increasingly in different parts of the criminal justice system. These approaches were pioneered by Mennonites in North America, among others, and Christians drawn to the Anabaptist tradition have been very interested in restorative justice initiatives.

We offer here some information about agencies in Britain that are working with restorative justice approaches and some resources for further reading.

Restorative Justice Organisations in the UK

Restorative Justice Consortium

The Restorative Justice Consortium was formed in 1997 bringing together a wide range of organisations with an interest in Restorative Justice. The organisations represented victims, offenders, young people and mediators, and those with a professional interest in RJ.

The objects for which the Association is established are:
To promote restorative justice for the public benefit as a means of resolving conflict and promoting reconciliation by:
• Promoting the use of restorative justice in the criminal justice system, in schools, in the workplace and elsewhere in the community in situations where conflict may arise
• Developing and promoting agreed standards and principles for evaluating and guiding restorative practice.
• Advancing education and research on restorative justice and the publication of the useful results of that research

Transforming Conflict

Transforming Conflict is an organisation that offers training, consultancy and support in educational settings for people seeking to enhance their skills in building a sense of community, fostering a spirit of inclusion and dealing creatively with challenging situations. Our work is underpinned by the philosophy of Restorative Justice, which stresses the importance of relationships above rules and the value of dialogue in healing the damage done to relationships by inappropriate behaviour.

Our courses are appropriate for all those who work in an educational setting and we have experience of running courses for pupil support teams, residential care staff, senior management teams, governors, teaching staff, learning support staff, lunchtime controllers, parents and students. We work in primary, secondary and EBD settings and have run both public and in-house courses. All in-house courses are tailored to suit the needs of the school. Having said that, we are also very responsive to the needs of the participants on the day and the programme can change to accommodate these needs.

Youth Offender Panels

Referral Orders are new court orders available from April 2002. They are given to most 10 to 17-year-olds pleading guilty on a first time conviction, unless the charge is serious enough to warrant custody. After appearing in court, the young person is referred to a Youth Offender Panel (YOP) who consider the best course of action.

A Youth Offender Panel consists of two volunteers recruited directly from the local community, alongside one member of the Youth Offending Team (Yot). They talk to the youngster, the parents and (where possible) the victim of the crime, to agree a tailor-made contract aimed at putting things right. The contract might include a letter of apology to the victim, removing graffiti or cleaning up estates and communities. It will also include activities to prevent further offending, such as getting young people back into school and help with alcohol or drug misuse. The Panel meets with the young person and their parents or guardians, to discuss reasons for the offending behaviour and suggest ways forward.

The victim is encouraged to attend the meeting to tell the young person how the crime affected them. Early results show that a young offender and a victim meeting face-to-face can be a powerful and positive experience for both.

With all parties in agreement, a contract is compiled to include an element of reparation, either to the victim directly or to the community at large. The contract also includes other elements to tackle the young person's offending behaviour - drugs counselling, anger management or dealing with truancy, for example. The contract is supervised by the Yot and reviewed at regular panel meetings. The conviction is "spent" when the order is successfully completed. If the young person fails to comply, the case is sent back to court and a different sentence may be given.

These panels, for the first time, give the community a say in creating effective packages that ensure young offenders repair the harm done and are given positive help to prevent further offending. It will be the responsibility of the panel to decide the right - and most appropriate - course of action, taking into account the young person's offence and reasons for offending.

Restorative Justice Ireland Network

The Restorative Justice Ireland Network (RJIN) was established in 1997 and is steered by a number of voluntary and statutory agencies North and South. We are working to raise awareness and stimulate interest in restorative justice throughout Ireland.
Our aims are:
• To promote the philosophy of restorative justice as an effective way of coping with crime and its effects throughout Ireland
• To network between persons and agencies interested in developing restorative justice and to give them a vehicle for sharing information, good practice, and research and information about training opportunities.
• To link restorative justice in Ireland with developments in other parts of the world, and contribute to international dialogue and learning.
• To facilitate the application of restorative justice principles into specific programmes and initiatives in Ireland.

Greater Shankill Alternatives

Alternatives has developed out of a two year action research project, which explored the issue of punishment attacks and the operation of the paramilitary informal justice system in the Greater Shankill area. This research involved extensive consultation with all those involved in the justice systems and youth provision. It identified failings in the formal criminal justice system in addressing anti-social behaviour in the Shankill area. It also highlighted the need for a non-violent alternative to punishment attacks, that would be community-owned and based on the principles of restorative justice.

Crime Concern Mediation and Reparation Project (MARS)

We manage a successful Mediation and Reparation Project called MARS in Southampton. We have prepared national guidance on effective restorative justice practice for the Youth Justice Board. We are providing implementation support to over 40 Youth Justice Board-funded restorative justice projects.

Crime Concern’s Mediation & Reparation Service (MARS) was developed specifically to meet the ‘reparation’ needs of Wessex Youth Offending Team. MARS provides a service for young people who have offended, those who are subject to a court order including reparation, their victims, and the local community. As well as working closely with Youth Offending Teams, MARS also seeks to work in partnership with Victim Support Services and other community groups and agencies. The majority of referrals made to MARS stem from Reparation Orders (40%), Action Plan Orders (40%) and Supervision Orders (15%). MARS currently provides the following reparative activities:
• indirect and direct mediation where desired and appropriate.
• direct reparation work by young people for their victims.
• community reparation placements.
• individual victim awareness work with young people who have offended.

Inside Out Trust – Restorative Justice at Work in Prisons

We believe that if people in prison do work that helps poor and disadvantaged people and gain both skills and self-esteem from so doing, they are less likely to re-offend and that helps us all. It is particularly important that we help young offenders to break the cycle of anti-social behaviour before they become lifetime criminals.

Inside Out fits in here because of its commitment to mediation between offenders and society. For us, 'restorative' means giving prisoners chances to compensate for their past behaviour by helping whole communities through their work. This also helps spread the idea that past offenders can be good citizens.

We match the needs of groups of disadvantaged people with the skills, enthusiasm and time available of people in prisons and provide services which would not otherwise be available. This match between offenders and needy people is a particularly powerful one and some of our most successful projects are those where prisoners can understand and relate to the lives of other people and do something to help them.

We recycle wheelchairs, bikes and motorbikes, transcribe braille for blind schoolchildren, paint pictures for hospitals and much much more. Anything, in fact, which a prisoner can do and which helps someone else to a more comfortable life.


Independent voluntary organisation working to prevent crime. Nacro's vision is a safer society where everyone belongs, human rights are respected and preventing crime means tackling social exclusion and re-integrating those who offend.

Nacro runs community-based projects to stop young people committing crime by tackling the causes of their offending. This may include getting young people on drugs treatment programmes, getting them into training or employment, anger management courses or getting offenders to offer some form of reparation or apology to their victim.

The Sycamore Tree Project

Based on the Bible story of Zacchaeus, challenges offenders to consider the effects of their crimes on their victims and how this will affect their future behaviour. Victims attend part of the course to tell their stories and the impact of crime on them and their families

A programme of Prison Fellowship England and Wales.

Quaker Initiatives and Community Justice

Crime and Community Justice Group (CCJG) was set up early in 1998, in response to a rising level of interest among Friends and Meetings. It had been several years since any significant work had been done at national level in the field of penal affairs and Quakers felt an urgent need to make their voices heard, again. In an increasingly punitive penal system, it was felt that there was a real need for a Quaker view to be articulated.

By November 1998, Crime and Community Justice Group had fulfilled two of the main tasks laid upon it. Firstly, it had produced a seven-page paper, Towards a Quaker View of Crime and Community Justice, to help to widen the debate on Friends’ position on crime and justice, the concept of community justice and the policy responses arising from it, which Friends may wish to support.

Secondly, the Group brought to Central Committee, as requested, a recommendation on women in prison. Central Committee supported the proposal that this was an issue on which to campaign at local and national levels. A paper called To ask the impossible? - Reducing the use of prison for women… was submitted to the Prison Reform Trust’s committee on the sentencing of women offenders and made available to Friends. Work on this subject continues.

Other on-going concerns include supporting initiatives of Restorative Justice in any way Friends are able, via including the Restorative Justice Consortium.

Circles of Support and Accountability works with released sex offenders to help them not to re-offend. It is a Canadian scheme which Quakers and others are promoting in the UK. Pilot projects have been set up in Thames Valley (where Quakers, police, probation and the prison service work in partnership) and Hampshire (probation and a local charity) and one run by the Wolvercote Clinic, all with funding from the Home Office.

Volunteers are recruited, screened, trained and supported by the scheme. Typically, four to six volunteers form a Circle. A high risk sex offender, with high levels of need and little or no other support becomes the core member. Meetings of the Circle and individual contacts are frequent to start with, but diminish over time. The overriding aim is that there be ‘no more victims’.

In 2001 the Group produced and distributed approximately 80 resources packs as a follow up to Tim Newell’s 2000 Swarthmore Lecture ‘Forgiving Justice’.

Representatives of the Group met with spokespeople of the three main political parties over 2000-2001 to discuss vital issues such as women, young offenders, prison overcrowding, restorative justice etc. The Group hopes to speak to the government again in 2002, about these issues.

On behalf of Friends, the Group has become actively involved with the Penal Affairs Consortium and the Restorative Justice Consortium, enabling it to keep in touch with and contribute to inter-agency work. The Group is also represented on the Churches Criminal Justice Forum and Interfaith Criminal Justice Forum. These ecumenical groups have planned many new initiatives including Community Chaplaincy, which would extend the work of the Chaplaincy into the community to support prisoners when they leave prison. The Group also has close links with Quakers in Criminal Justice (QICJ), an active informal network of Quakers involved in the criminal justice system.


REMEDI (Reparation and Mediation Initiatives) is an independent Voluntary Sector organisation that provides a mediation service for victims and offenders of crime. It was set up in 1996, originally in Sheffield and has now expanded across South Yorkshire. REMEDI is a free and confidential service that uses trained mediators to help people resolve the effects of crime. Mediators are trained to remain impartial and will not take sides or judge people.

Victim Offender Mediation involves communication between the victim of the crime and the person who committed it. The mediators act as a go-between to enable communication between the two parties. The process is entirely voluntary and people are free to opt-out at any time. If both the victim and offender wish, a face-to-face meeting can also be arranged.

The Sussex Centre for Restorative Justice

The Sussex Centre for Restorative Justice was established in 1998 to promote the development of restorative practice in Sussex. While the SCRJ primarily provides services in Sussex, we do operate nationally.

Thames Valley Partnership

The Thames Valley Partnership convenes the Restorative Justice Development Group which brings organisations working in the field of restorative justice from across the Thames Valley area together to share ideas, discuss and promote new initiatives and give support to practitioners involved in a range of restorative approaches.

A recent report "Restorative Justice - A New School of Thought?" is the culmination of 18 months work supporting and evaluating restorative approaches in schools. The report stresses the importance of good preparation and real commitment from schools and all concerned as essential ingredients in making restorative practice work. Belinda Hopkins from "Transforming Conflict" has worked with the Thames Valley Partnership on restorative justice approaches in schools. Examples of her approach and her own research can be found at

We are currently exploring new work to support conflict resolution, mediation and restorative justice approaches in the prevention of anti-social behaviour. A new report "A Priority in Common" includes a scoping exercise of anti-social behaviour work in the Thames Valley region and papers from a seminar held in October 2002. We are hoping that we will receive funding to enable us to continue this work, and to support the work of community mediation schemes and restorative justice practioners in working alongside community safety partners in developing preventative approaches to anti-social behaviour.

In the early part of the year the Thames Valley Partnership supported three new pilot projects in prisons using restorative justice approaches in a variety of ways, including victim offender mediation, victim awareness and community involvement. The results of this work are available in a report "Restorative Justice in Prisons", published in May 2002. Future work will focus on the use of restorative approaches at the point of resettlement and integration of prisoners into the community which we hope to pilot in the Thames Valley.

Our restorative work will link with the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation's "Rethinking Crime and Punishment" programme which seeks to improve the public's understanding of the criminal justice system and increase confidence in its objectives. Our work on restorative justice will be one of the ways in which we are contributing to the Rethinking Crime and Punishment Programme.

Thames Valley Police

Thames Valley Police is the largest non-metropolitan police force in the country, covering the 2,200 square miles of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, and serving a population of 2.1 million. The force adopts a problem-solving approach to policing, a key feature of which is the use of restorative justice.

Restorative justice fits with our problem-solving style of policing. We use innovative methods to tackle the causes of crime and deliver a more effective police response. Involving others in seeking solutions, particularly via community based initiatives, is a key feature of our approach.

The roots of our work with restorative justice are to be found in Milton Keynes with the Retail Theft Initiative. This brings young people, who have been caught shoplifting, face-to-face with store managers to hear how shop theft affects others. Results, in terms of reducing reoffending, have been impressive. In addition, store managers also now see shop theft in a very different light and are becoming involved in working to reduce it rather than merely seeking a punitive sanction.

Building on such work Thames Valley Police instigated a conferencing pilot project in Aylesbury in 1995, to caution offenders for a wide variety of criminal offences. The success of the pilot led to the "rolling-out" of conferencing forcewide such that, from April 1998, all cautions, reprimands and final warnings have been delivered in a restorative style, via 11 restorative justice units situated across the 10 force areas.

The Restorative Justice Consultancy has also been set up at Police Headquarters to co-ordinate training of conference facilitators and disseminate best practice, both within the force and amongst partner agencies.

From a broader perspective Thames Valley Police have started using restorative justice as a highly effective response to incidents of non-criminal or semi-criminal behaviour arising out of neighbourhood disputes. Another key area where the approach is extremely valuable is in resolving issues surrounding bullying, truancy and disruptive behaviour within schools. We are also increasingly holding restorative conferences to resolve police complaints, and internal grievances in the workplace.

Restorative Justice Training Foundation

The Restorative Justice Training Foundation is an organisation who's prime objective is the successful implementation of restorative approaches across the whole spectrum of society in the United Kingdom. To this end we are committed to providing high quality training for facilitators of restorative interventions at low cost. The foundation is a network of some of the most experienced trainers in the country, most of whom are still full time employees within the public sector.

Restorative Justice Publications in the UK

International perspectives on restorative justice: conference report. Mika, H, and K McEvoy, eds. (2001) Institute of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Queen's University Belfast. Papers by R Shonhotlz, J Braithwaite, A Morris, A Skelton, M Wright.

Justice for victims and offenders: a restorative response to crime. Wright, M (1996) Winchester, England: Waterside Press. 2nd ed. Development of the restorative idea; new chapter on recent developments in

Restorative justice. New Zealand Ministry of Justice (1995) PO Box 180, Wellington, NZ. Discussion paper. Strang, Heather, and John Braithwaite (2000) Restorative justice: philosophy to practice. Aldershot: Ashgate.

Restorative Justice: Ideas, Values, Debates: Johnstone, Gerry (2002) Willan Publishing

Restorative justice: international perspectives. Galaway, B, and J Hudson (1996)Amsterdam: Kugler Publications. Useful collection of articles on many aspects including shame, public opinion, etc.

Restorative justice on trial: pitfalls and potentials of victim/offender mediation - international research perspectives. Messmer, H and H-U Otto, eds. (1992) Dordrecht: Kluwer. Conference papers by Tony Marshall, Burt Galaway, John Haley, Mark Umbreit, Gwynn Davis, Martin Wright, and others.

Restoring respect for justice. Wright, M (1999) Winchester: Waterside Press.
Various professional perspectives on criminal and restorative justice.

Youth Justice Board – Restorative Justice: Key Elements of Effective Practice:

Restorative justice: the Government’s strategy
A consultation document on the Government’s strategy on restorative justice
Released July 2003