What is Restorative Justice (RJ)?
Restorative Justice is a process that opens up communication between victims and offenders. The restorative process gives victims a voice and allows them to explain to the offender how they have been impacted by the incident and get answers to any questions that only the offender can provide.
How does Restorative Justice work?
- All Restorative Justice is victim focused.
- Restorative Justice is a voluntary process for all parties.
- The completion of restorative interventions from beginning to end can vary in method, approach and length.
- Restorative Justice requires a person who has either been a direct victim or someone affected indirectly by a crime and an offender who is remorseful for their actions.
- All parties engaging in a Restorative Intervention will be risk assessed prior to engaging in an intervention.
Risk Assessing Offenders: Risk assessments are completed to ensure that they are remorseful for their actions, take full responsibility for their behaviour and pose no risk to other participants or themselves by engaging in an intervention.
Risk Assessing Victims: As Victims First have victims interests at the heart of everything we do, we will also complete a risk assessment with our service users to ensure that by participating in an intervention, they are safe, understand the process and are ready to participate.
As our service user’s safety and wellbeing are paramount, should Restorative Justice not be deemed suitable at the time of enquiry, our Facilitators will discuss this further and ensure support is in place.
There are various Intervention methods available for those who may wish to participate:
Direct Restorative Justice:
Supervised face-to-face meeting facilitated by a trained facilitator
Direct reparation is work that is carried out that benefits the victim of an offence – Can be direct with the victim or indirect without the victims presence
Indirect Restorative Justice:
Letter of Explanation:
A letter written by the offender providing an explanation and/or an apology for their offending behavior
Mediation via a third party to communicate feelings and thoughts without meeting the offender
Indirect Reparation is unpaid work which benefits the community as a whole
How can Victims First help?
- Victims First celebrated receiving the Restorative Services Quality Mark (RSQM), which is a recognised award assuring service users that Victims First provide a quality Restorative service.
- Victims First are proud to have trained Restorative Justice Facilitators, along with 8 members of the team who are also Restorative Justice Serious and Complex trained.
- Our Coordinators are available to discuss your choices and options, inform you fully of the process and provide support throughout. Should you wish to participate in any of the interventions, our trained facilitators can be there in person to support you throughout and ensure that you have additional support in place after you have engaged in the process.
- Victims First work closely with partner agencies including the Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC) and Northumbria Police to ensure that all Restorative Interventions are fully risk assessed and suitable to progress.
- Our Victims First Facilitators are Champions in various specialist areas – no matter the crime type, support will be provided if required.
- All service users are given a bespoke cope and recovery plan when referred into our service. Should you require additional support outside the remit of Victims First Northumbria, we work in partnership with our commissioned services that have been identified by the Police Crime Commissioner as key support agencies and can submit referrals where necessary.
What are the benefits of RJ?
Benefits for Victims:
- Participating in RJ has proven to help improve a victim’s cope and recovery needs as well as help them recover from the crime.
- Allows a victim to tell their story, be heard and understood.
- Enables a victim to ask questions and get answers.
- Reduce a victim’s level of fear by personalising the offender.
- Can help a victim gain their confidence back.
- Largely reduces a victims’ post-traumatic stress symptoms.
- Brings the victim a sense of closure.
- Empowers a victim to help make a difference to an offender’s behaviour.
- Repair the harm caused and allow for reparations to be made.
Benefits for Offenders:
- For the benefits for an offender engaging in restorative justice, please refer to the ‘Our Projects’ page under REFORM
Is there any feedback from victims who have participated in RJ?
Victim of Burglary: “After meeting my offender, I felt such relief. Finally, I’m getting to sleep at night”.
Victim of Assault: “I had so many questions. Why Me? Was I targeted? Will it happen again? Getting the answers has really helped me move on”.
Corporate Fraud: “The Victims First Coordinator was perfect in the way in which they approached Restorative Justice, provided support and delivered the indirect Letter of Explanation”.
Victims First Northumbria are proud to announce that 100% of service users have been satisfied with the Restorative service they have received.
Victims First obtain satisfaction feedback specific to the following areas:
- How satisfied were you with the timing in which RJ was discussed?
- Were you satisfied with how the VFN Coordinator discussed RJ with you?
- How satisfied were you with the RJ process leading up to the RJ Intervention?
- How satisfied were you with the RJ Intervention?
- Did the Intervention meet your cope and recovery needs?
Who do VFN work with to deliver RJ?
Click on one of the partner agencies below to find out more about the RJ work that they do.
Northumbria police have a duty to discuss Restorative Justice when responding to incidents under the Victims Code of Practice. As the initial point of contact for most victims of crime, Northumbria Police will discuss Restorative Justice with the victim when completing Victims First Needs Assessments. The officer will explain what Restorative Justice is to the victim and explore their choices and options in further detail. Following the completion of the VFN Needs Assessment, Northumbria Police will then refer the victim details into Victims First Northumbria who are the RJ service in the area. VFN will then contact the victim and then discuss Restorative Justice in further detail.
Victims First work in partnership with Court Liaison in identifying potential cases suitable for Restorative Justice and ensuring such cases are progressed accordingly. In providing support to witnesses, Court Liaison actively acknowledge suitable cases for RJ and refer these through to VFN.
Youth Offending Service
Youth Offending Service
Restorative Justice can be used in the day to day work of the Youth Offending Service. Restorative approaches can help young people to think about the effects their crime may have had on others and to get them to consider taking part in Restorative Justice. Restorative Justice can be used for any type of sentence and at any time throughout the process. There are various options in which the YOS can progress Restorative Justice, as outlined below:
Youth Conditional Cautions – Restorative Justice can be one of the conditions attached to a youth conditional caution and restorative approaches should be considered at all times.
Pre-Sentence – Recent government legislation has allowed courts to defer sentencing after a guilty plea to allow for the progression of restorative interventions.
Referral Order – Restorative Justice can form part of a referral order. Referral Order panels should be restorative in nature and these panels allow victims the chance to be involved in the process.
Youth Rehabilitation Order – Restorative Justice can form one of the requirements of a youth rehabilitation order.
All higher risk of harm offenders are managed by the National Probation Service (NPS) and provide court services including pre-sentence reports, breaches and enforcement. The NPS assist sentences in identifying cases suitable for a Rehabilitation Activity Requirement, it is then the duty of the CRC to determine whether RJ forms a part of this requirement. It is the duty of the NPS to also identify cases that may be suitable for pre-sentence RJ and if so, assist other providers (often from a victim/witness background) in identifying potentially suitable cases. It is vital that the NPS understand the workings of the Restorative Justice process and requirements to progress.
HMP Northumberland REFORM
HMP Northumberland REFORM
REFORM (Restorative Engagement For Offender Recovery Management) is an exciting collaboration between Victims First Northumbria and HMP Northumberland. The partnership aims to help prisoners in HMP Northumberland to access support in custody and engage in restorative justice interventions.
Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC)
Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC)
Northumbria Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC)’s purpose is ‘to change lives for the better by reducing reoffending and risk of harm, and improving the Quality of Life of those under our supervision and care’. We are responsible for managing low and medium risk offenders in the community. Whilst our primary role focuses upon how we work with adult service users to change their behaviour and therefore reduce reoffending, victims of crime and their safety are central to our operating model and company aims.
The CRC has worked closely with VFN in developing a joint operating model incorporating a victim centred approach to the delivery of Restorative Justice across Northumbria via the co-location of three CRC posts in VFN.
Where can I find out more about RJ?
RJ Leaflet download PDF
VFN Contact Details
I am ready to participate in RJ, what do I need to do?
E-mail Referral: VFN Referral Form
Telephone Referral: Contact Details