Restorative justice enables victims to meet or communicate with their offender to explain the real impact of their actions.
It gives someone affected by crime the chance to have their say, explain what the effect was on them and to seek a direct explanation from the offender about what they did.
Through this the offender can begin to understand the effect of their behaviour and make amends. Restorative justice does not replace the criminal justice system, but helps to deal with the emotions and stress caused by crime, so the person harmed can move on with their lives.
If you’ve been a victim of a crime it’s likely to have been a deeply upsetting and unsettling experience. For many people restorative justice helps to get closure after a traumatic time. People who have participated in restorative justice
have reported that it has been an empowering experience which allowed them to feel more in control of what happened to them.
Restorative justice can only take place in cases where someone has admitted guilt.
An offender does not have to meet with their victim – both sides have to agree that they would like to meet for restorative justice to go ahead.
Restorative justice doesn’t have to take place straight after a court case, it is available any time you’re ready.
and the impact it has had on you. If you feel that you are willing to meet with the offender, your facilitator can arrange this.
If the offender pleads guilty, you can arrange to meet quite quickly thereafter, although the timing is up to you.
The facilitator will talk to the offender about what has happened and find out about the offender’s understanding of the harm they
caused. Your facilitator will ask the offender what they could do to make things better. The offender will then be asked if they would
like the opportunity to meet you or have some other type of communication with you.
If you, the offender and your facilitator agree that it’s right to arrange a meeting then a conference can go ahead. If another type of communication is more suitable your facilitator will help with this. You are welcome to bring a friend or family member with you to support you and the offender can do the same.
The meeting will be guided by your facilitator. It will be held in a neutral, safe place and usually lasts about an hour and a half. During the meeting everyone will get to have their say about what happened.
Your facilitator will be a specialist in providing restorative justice and will have been trained in supporting people affected by crime.
They provide a completely confidential and impartial service. They are there to support you and to make the experience of restorative justice as positive as possible for everyone involved.
For some people who have been affected by crime, it helps to explore why the crime happened. Evidence shows that most people who take part in a restorative justice process, come away feeling satisfied because it has allowed them to have their say.
It helps people to move on and feel less fearful of crime in the future, as well as:
- Have your say.
- Explain to the person who harmed you what impact their behaviour has had on your life.
- Get some answers to any questions you may have about what happened.
- Help you get the closure you need to overcome the impact of the harm you have experienced.
It also helps:
- Prevent the same thing happening to someone else.
- Offenders understand the consequences of their actions.
Restorative justice can be helpful for offenders because it enables them to understand the impact their actions have had. It gives them the chance to listen and to answer any questions you might have. They may apologise for what they have done and agree what they might do to make things better. This might include addressing the issues in their life that led them to commit the crime.
Offenders who have taken part in restorative justice have said that the experience helped them to understand how their actions affected others and to enable them to deal with the feelings of guilt or remorse, and to feel that they have done something positive.