Case Study 1: County Durham & Darlington Restorative Hub

Published: Thursday, November 16th, 2017

As part of the Valuing Victim 2017 Campaign work a case study of County Durham and Darlington Restorative hub was undertaken to understand their approach to using Restorative Justice (RJ) to support victims, offenders and the use of restorative approaches to deal with neighbourhood issues. Below are our findings.

It is important to get across the importance of a whole system approach or holistic thinking around the Criminal Justice System (CJS) and community aspects of RJ and particularly how it fits into thinking within the CJS. Getting the thinking right is the most important consideration. Charles Oakley, Head of Governance & Commissioning, Durham Police, Crime & Victims’ Commissioner

Country Durham and Darlington’s restorative vision


Aim of the Restorative Hub

  1.   To deliver victim centred restorative practices by facilitating and enabling partnership working across the span of criminal justice, voluntary sector and universal service networks in County Durham and Darlington.
  2. To support and enable organisations in County Durham and Darlington in the delivery of victim centred restorative practices across the criminal justice system.
  3. The aims are set out in this chart.

Principles of the Restorative Hub

  1. Equal Access: A supportive restorative intervention is available to victims (regardless of age or whether the offender was an adult or young person) when the need is identified from within the community and through all stages of the criminal justice system.
  2. Awareness & Understanding: People are aware of restorative approaches and its potential benefits, enabling victims and offenders to make informed decisions about participation and know how to access it.
  3. Good Quality: A restorative approach is safe, competent and focused on the needs of the victim.
  4. Sustainability: Restorative services are provided through partnerships and networks which best suit its continued growth as a mainstream activity.

Objectives of the Restorative Hub

  1. To record and report upon all restorative practice through the single case management database (FIRsT).
  2. To provide the focal point for restorative practices through the instigation of clear referral processes and support pathways.
  3. To raise awareness of the availability and benefits of restorative practices within our communities.
  4. To support partners in the delivery of safe and consistent restorative practices for victims of crime.
  5. To ensure that restorative practices are firmly embedded within all criminal justice agencies, and are an offer for victims of crime at any stage of their journey.

The next chart maps out (generically) the links between those services designed to help persons who have suffered detriment because of a crime or an incident. Its main purpose is to show the links between the Victim Care & Advice Service (VCAS), Vulnerability Intervention Pathway (VIP), Hub and Community Peer Mentors.


It is important to ensure that a person, who is a victim of crime or involved in a neighbour dispute or being adversely affected by events happening in their community, is only required to share the circumstances one time to instigate support. The chart shows that:

  •   A need can be identified following a crime or incident, managing the response to high demand users of services, a person recognising the need for support or a community organisation recognising that a person needs support;
  •   The two main sources of information will be the ‘Red Sigma’ system of Durham Constabulary and the ‘FIRsT’ system managed on behalf of partners by Durham County Council;
  •   There are potentially four different places where a needs assessment can occur, so a cross referral process is important to avoid duplication;
  •   Regardless of the place where the need was identified or where the needs assessment occurs, persons can be referred to the same set of service providers to receive further support appropriate to their needs;
  •   The Restorative Hub and Community Peer Mentors undertake needs assessments and also take referrals to offer further support.

“Performance management to understand the impact on individuals supported, benefits to the community and impact on service demand are all important aspects. RJ is operating alongside other things that support victims (and offenders) and is part of a complex environment, which is why the indicators may need to be at a high level because designing performance management to represent the complexity means we could spend more time collecting data and not delivering a service or worse create unintended consequences that cause service providers to focus on narrow aspects of what they can deliver.”   Charles Oakley

Restorative Outcomes and Benefits

Data is collected and reported upon that shows from where referrals originate, whether the support is for individuals affected by a crime or neighbour dispute. They plan to extended this to explain what difference the service is making to those it supports and how it is impacting on demand for police and partners’ services.

From data collected in 2017/18, they have a better understanding of the actions by the Hub Practitioners that enabled a case to be closed.  

From data that they have been collecting in 2017/18, they also have a better understanding of the outcomes achieved by the Hub Practitioners following the closure of a case.  

The hub is also developing measures that:

  • Capture the difference the service has made to the beneficiaries in terms that are personal to them but can be categorised into meaningful outcomes; and
  • Demonstrate the impact that the restorative interventions have made to the demand on police resources and for our partners in service delivery.

The types of benefits that have emerged from the Hub activities are:

  1. An increased community capacity of volunteers trained in mediation approaches, who are helping to resolve disputes within communities;
  2. An increase in the community mediation referral pathways developed;
  3. A reduction in the calls to police and emergency services for neighbour disputes and less serious crimes (see next table for estimate of impact on demand);
  4. A reduction in the deployment of police for neighbour disputes and less serious crimes (see next table for estimate of impact on demand).

Restorative interventions reduce demand on the Police Force

An evaluation (March 2016) of all police referrals that the Hub had concluded in the previous six months was undertaken with the help of police analysts. There were 54 cases, which were a cross section of neighbour disputes and crimes to the person/commercial. Before a restorative approach there were 202 calls to the Constabulary which led to attendance by an officer on 189 occasions.

Six months after the Hub intervention, a follow-up study (of the 54 cases) showed, during the six months that followed the intervention, calls to the Constabulary and attendance by an officer fell by more than 50% (see table for more details).

Extrapolating these reductions to the 201 cases referred by Durham Constabulary to the Restorative Hub puts the reduction in demand for police resources at just over £100,000. Those resources are available for alternative deployment.

Restorative Justice funding for the future

Durham, following review of funding streams, have created three strategic funds, each of which supports a strategic priority:

  •   Community safety and prevention;
  •   Reducing reoffending; and
  •   Victims’ services.

Thank you to Durham & Darlington restorative justice team for contributing to our report

Our Valuing Victims Campaign aims to improve victims’ access to RJ across England and Wales by highlighting the challenges victims face in accessing Restorative Justice. For a complete list of our recommendations and most recent report, read Part I and Part II 2017 publications

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