What is restorative justice?
Restorative Practices is a term that is used to describe interventions that aim to enable everyone involved in an offence or incident of harm to speak together about it under the guidance of a trained Restorative Practitioner. This does not have to be through a face to face meeting - other ways of communicating can be facilitated. The exact method of communication will be discussed during the preparatory meetings with each person.
Restorative Practices can be used to resolve incidents of bullying in schools, for example, in the workplace and communities to resolve conflicts and misunderstandings, as well as in the aftermath of crime, where it is often referred to as Restorative Justice. Participation is always voluntary and with consents from both people or parties.
Restorative Practices offers both people or parties the opportunity to speak about:
The Facts - what happened?
The Consequences - who was affected?
The Future - what needs to happen now to enable all involved to move on in a safer way?
(for ‘Facts, Consequences, Future’ terminology we are indebted to: Brookes, D. (2002). Restorative justice training manual. SACRO.)
Restorative Practices happen all over the world and follow the same three stage process as above. You will also see that we talk about the person harmed instead of victim and the person responsible instead of offender. This is to take away the sometimes unhelpful labelling and to see the people behind the incident. It also recognises that someone has been harmed and someone is responsible for causing that harm.
The principles underlying restorative practices include being:
Empathic, respectful, fair, inclusive, non – judgmental, honest, trustworthy and treating everyone equally.
Often for the person responsible, the experience can be 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 and brave step towards understanding more about what happened, knowing they have been heard, and beginning to move forward in their lives.
Restorative Justice is proven to reduce re-offending rates alongside reducing stress levels in people harmed through crime. When used in schools, Restorative Practices can reduce exclusion rates and improve attainment levels, as well as promote a more positive learning environment for staff and students.
What kind of crimes or situations can Space2face Shetland help with?
Restorative Practices can potentially be used for any type of harm or crime. No-one knows the impact of even a seemingly minor incident, only the people 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 Practices can still help those harmed by these types of offences. In all cases, it is important that well trained senior practitioners with relevant skills and experience are involved. Clair (our Director-Practitioner) and Alyson (our Consultant) 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.