The Restorative Justice Council defines Restorative Justice as follows:
Restorative justice brings those harmed by crime or conflict and those responsible for the harm into communication, enabling everyone affected by a particular incident to play a part in repairing the harm and finding a positive way forward. This is part of a wider field called restorative practice.
The basic element of restorative justice (RJ) is a dialogue between the victim, the offender and anyone else affected by the incident such as the wider community. It is most effective when managed by a trained facilitator.
Councillor Pervez Akthar, Deputy Cabinet Member for Policing and Equalities of Coventry City Council, puts it this way:
RJ is a way of giving a fair voice to victims and of bringing communities together to tackle a whole range of anti-social behaviour.
Restorative Justice gives everyone affected by a particular incident the opportunity to play a part in repairing the harm and finding a positive way forward. This can apply to very different situations.
Both victims of crime or conflict and those responsible for their harm can benefit from restorative justice and I’m really keen to see the scheme develop.
Restorative practice can be used anywhere to prevent conflict, build relationships and repair harm by enabling people to communicate effectively and positively. It is increasingly being used in schools, children’s services, workplaces, hospitals, communities and the criminal justice system. The Ministry of Justice wants all victims of crime to be offered restorative justice where is it appropriate.
RJ is not a new phenomenon. It has been around for a number of years and has been embedded in Aboriginal and Maori cultures in Australia and New Zealand for centuries.
There is widespread evidence about the positive impact that RJ can have on both offending behaviour and upon victims. However it is only relatively recently that the UK has started rolling out RJ schemes nationally, supported by the Ministry of Justice. The evidence of its effectiveness within the UK is summarised here.
The Coventry RJ website is set up to promote public awareness of RJ within the city. It is managed by the Coventry Restorative Justice Forum. It provides information about RJ, includes videos to show how the process works and the benefits it can bring to those involved, and explains the work we are doing to engage more people and organisations within RJ.