What is restorative justice?

Restorative Justice gives the People Harmed through crime or conflict the chance to meet or communicate with those responsible to explain the real impact of the crime - it empowers the Person Harmed by giving them a voice.  It also holds the Person Responsible to account for what they have done and helps them to take responsibility and make amends. You will see that we talk about the Person Harmed instead of victim and Person Responsible instead of offender. 


Restorative Justice helps everyone involved in a situation to talk with each other within a facilitated discussion about the harm that has been caused and finding a way to repair that harm.

Restorative Justice happens all over the world and follows the same three stage process:

  • Facts - what happened?

  • Consequences - who was affected?

  • Future - what needs to happen now to enable all involved to move on in a safer way?

The principles underlying restorative practices that we abide by are the same as in the Scottish Government guidelines and include: 

Empathy, Respect, Fairness, Inclusion, Non – judgmental, Honest, Trustworthy and Equality

For the process, all participants need to have some shared restorative values, such as; 

  • responsive to potential for change;

  • for the Person Responsible to take responsibility;

  • honesty;

  • respect and 

  • dedicate time to the process.

Often for the Person Responsible, the experience can be incredibly challenging as it confronts them with the consequences of their behaviour. Whilst for those harmed, meeting the Person Responsible for harming them can be a huge step towards knowing they have been heard and begin to move forward in their lives.


Under the guidance of a Restorative Practitioner, there are several methods in which communication between those involved can take place:

  • a restorative conversation;

  • a face to face meeting;

  • a small group meeting;

  • a larger group meeting;

  • a whole community meeting and

  • another method where a meeting is not possible is shuttle mediation/dialogue.


Sometimes, when a face to face meeting is not the best way forward, the Practioner can also arrange for communication via letters, recorded interviews or video.

​It is important to remember, the Person Responsible accepts responsibility for causing harm and both the Person Harmed and the Person Responsible must be willing to participate.

Restorative Justice can be used for any type of crime or harm and can be suggested at any stage during work with the Person Responsbile or Person Harmed.

What kind of crimes or situations can Space2face Shetland help with? 

Restorative Justice can potentially be used for any type of crime and it can help the People Harmed whatever the seriousness of the offence/harm.  No-one knows the impact of even a seemingly minor crime, only the person involved. There are certain offences which can pose challenges for the Restorative Process, for example sexual offences, hate crime and domestic violence. However, with suitably trained facilitators Restorative Justice can still help those harmed of these offences. In all cases of Restorative Justice, particularly those just mentioned, it is important that well trained senior practitioners with relevant skills and experience are involved. Alyson and Clair have undertaken additional training to work with situations of sexual violence and rape.


The following short film shows how Restorative Justice can be used in a situation of crime.  In this case there is recurring trauma for the Person Harmed, and the Person Responsible learns of this.