Restorative justice

If you’ve been affected by crime, you might be offered the opportunity to take part in a restorative justice meeting, or conference.

Restorative justice (RJ) is an approach trying to deal with the harm caused by crime and other conflicts. It involves bringing together victims and offenders to help you find answers, and to help the offender to fit back into society. Research shows many people find restorative justice helps them to move on with their lives after experiencing crime. It can also reduce the frequency of reoffending.

Restorative justice is a completely voluntary process and will only take place with the permission of participants.

  • The offender must accept responsibility for the harm caused by their actions.
  • Both you and the offender must be willing to participate.
  • Restorative justice can only take place if a trained facilitator decides that it would be safe and suitable.
  • The facilitator will speak to you and offender to discuss what has happened and prepare you for a meeting, often called a conference.
  • In the meeting, everyone will get to have their say and can agree actions to address the harm.
  • In appropriate cases, you and offender can invite agreed supporters to come with them.
  • In some cases a meeting may not be suitable, but the process may be undertaken by another form of communication.
Restorative justice gives you, the victim, a chance to ask the offender questions and have your say, or tell them how their criminal behaviour has affected you. It also helps many people to move forward and recover from the impact of crime.

It gives the offender a chance to:

  • admit what they have done and the impact it has had
  • make up for it in some way
  • work to change their behaviour.

This can be done face-to-face with the offender, with an official mediator or facilitator present, or indirectly through a mediator.

You may be asked about the possibility of mediation, attending a restorative conference or Youth Offender Panel meeting, or asked about reparation. It’s completely up to you whether or not you take part.

All communication between the victim and offender is carefully mediated by an RJ facilitator who will make sure the process is safe and in your interests as the victim.

Victim Support runs restorative justice services in various locations throughout England and Wales. If you’d like to find out more about restorative justice, you can:

  • Contact your local Victim Support team
  • Create a free account on My Support Space – an online resource containing interactive guides (including a guide on restorative justice) to help you move forward after crime.