Watch our video explaining what Restorative Justice is, and the benefits for a victim of crime
When a crime has been committed or an incident has occurred, Restorative Justice offers an opportunity for the victim, the offender and sometimes members of the community to come together to discuss how to repair the harm caused.
The Victims' Code states that the police should inform victims about how they can take part in Restorative Justice. The victim and offender’s participation is always voluntary.
Restorative Justice can be a very powerful tool in reducing reoffending. It enables victims to tell offenders the real impact of their crimes, get answers and possibly receive an apology. It also gives offenders the chance to understand what they have done, take responsibility for their actions and consider ways to make amends for their behaviour.
Frequently asked questions
When is restorative justice used?
Restorative Justice can be used at any point during the criminal justice process - or even after someone is found guilty - provided both the victim(s) and offender(s) are willing. Historical cases are also catered for.
Do I have to meet the offender?
No. It is important to understand that restorative justice is a process and may not end up as a face-to-face meeting. For example, a letter of apology may be received, or a video message can be used to express a person’s view - that could be the offender’s view, the victim’s view, or both.
The method of 'conversation' will be tailored to the individual case and all parties' needs and wishes. Participation is always voluntary, and requires both the victim and offender to agree.
A victim can have someone with them to support them during the process. Or, if it is preferred, someone else can represent the victim.
What are the benefits of restorative justice?
There are several benefits for a victim going through the restorative justice process. Often, they want to understand why a crime happened to them, and what the offender's motivation was. They also want the assurance that the offender will not harm anyone else in the future. Communicating with the offender enables a victim to get the answers to these questions and to help them move on with their lives.
Restorative justice also helps the offender with their own rehabilitation. By helping the offender face up to the consequences of what they have done, the process can prompt them to begin to think about changing their future behaviour. The offender has the chance not just to say sorry and feel sorry, but to make better life choices and improve their prospects.
How does restorative justice differ from a Community Resolution?
A Community Resolution is a way of resolving offences such as low-level public order, criminal damage, theft, and minor assaults. Typically, a Community Resolution might take the form of an apology and enables relatively minor offences to be resolved much faster than requiring a suspect to attend court.
A Community Resolution is one of more than 20 ways ('outcomes') a police investigation is resolved. All outcomes are equally valid. Some of the other well-known outcomes include:
A suspect has been charged
A suspect has been cautioned
A suspect has received a Penalty Notice for Disorder
The suspect has died
Prosecution is not in the public interest
No suspect has been identified
Restorative justice is not the same as a Community Resolution.
Restorative justice is not an outcome and it does not replace the police investigation and the criminal justice process. Restorative Justice is facilitated in addition to whatever outcome the police investigation will reach.
Restorative Justice in Kent
The PCC has commissioned Restorative Solutions to provide restorative justice here in Kent. In the long term it is hoped the scheme will reduce crime rates, as evidence shows offenders who have faced up to their victims are less likely to go on to commit crimes again.
If you have been victim of a crime, you can get more information about restorative justice in Kent by visiting our local RJ website. The website includes case studies detailing the experiences of both victims and offenders of going through the restorative justice process.