The Economic Case for Restorative Justice
This is a blog by our Fundraising Officer Lucy Harris.
This week, Why me? and economist Frank Grimsey Jones have released our pioneering and highly anticipated Economic Evaluation report and economic model of Restorative Justice (RJ). The report and model are the culmination of a research project comparing restorative interventions for victims of crime and offenders with the conventional justice system. The research analysed the economic impact of Restorative Justice interventions, including the impact on reoffending and its direct benefit to victims. As a result, our economic evaluation has demonstrated a high social return on investment, far exceeding existing criminal justice interventions.
The key findings from the research are:
- Each direct Restorative Justice intervention reduced the average number of reoffences in the first year from 27 to 19.
- For every £1 invested in Restorative Justice, there are £14 of benefits.
- The direct return on investment for the Criminal Justice System was £4 per £1 invested.
- The model suggests that with a £5 million investment in RJ, we would see total benefits of £76 million, saving the criminal justice system £17 million.
The individual and social benefits of Restorative Justice are well-known by practitioners, and there is a continuously growing evidence base of the qualitative impacts of Restorative Justice, including our own ambassadors’ stories.
However, while these individual stories and social arguments are compelling in demonstrating how RJ transforms lives, to encourage increased investment in RJ, we must also be able to demonstrate its substantial financial and economic potential. This project represents an innovative approach to evidencing the value of Restorative Justice, and our findings are a clear demonstration that Restorative Justice can reduce reoffending and save money as well as helping victims to recover.
“A key aspect for anyone considering initiatives benefiting victims or encouraging desistance is whether they are value for money. This in-depth economic analysis of restorative justice takes us much further to answer this question – in a positive direction.”
– Joanna Shapland, Edward Bramley Professor of Criminal Justice at the University of Sheffield
Following these substantial findings, Why me? continue to demonstrate that increasing access to Restorative Justice should be a policy priority for national and local decision makers within the Criminal Justice System. This report makes a series of recommendations for future research, policymakers, and Police and Crime Commissioners, including:
Improved national data collection should be a priority, based on a shared definition of key metrics, including level of investment, number of referrals, number of direct Restorative Justice interventions, number of indirect Restorative Justice interventions, reoffending rate, victim wellbeing and offender wellbeing.
The right to be given information about and access to Restorative Justice should be enshrined within the primary legislation of the Victims Bill. This legislative right should end existing blanket bans on Restorative Justice provision for specific types of cases, so that all victims of crime are able to decide whether to engage with Restorative Justice
We recommend that Police and Crime Commissioners use the model produced by this research to understand the return on investment in Restorative Justice in your area. Share the model with staff or external providers responsible for Restorative Justice delivery, establish an action plan to ensure consistent data collection and analysis to understand and improve return on investment.