Economic Evaluation: A global audience at the European Criminology Conference 2023

Published: Friday, September 15th, 2023

This is a blog by our Director Lucy Jaffé.


Director Lucy Jaffe presenting at Eurocrim 2023We were delighted that Why me?’s Economic Evaluation paper, which shows that for every £1 invested in Restorative Justice, £14 of benefits accrue, was accepted for presentation at this important conference. There were 2500 global criminologists and experts at the European Society of Criminology conference in Florence in early September. 

There is no doubt that the economic research on Restorative Justice, carried out by our researcher Frank Grimsey Jones and funded by the Sir Halley Stewart Trust, stands on its own. There was very little at the conference about social return on investment in criminal justice approaches. What really stood out to me was the lack of practical application of research in many cases, with the exception of a few, such as Professor Mark Walters’ framework for a Smarter Justice Liberalism to address hate crime; also the whole system approach to RJ proposed by Banwell-Moore and Hobson, which I describe later in this blog. 

The event kicked off with a meeting of the Restorative Justice working group established by Dr Kerry Clamp and Dr Estelle Zinstaag. It was exciting to see the enthusiasm for and growth of interest in Restorative Justice research, covering criminal justice, schools, institutional abuse and transitional justice. 

Here is a flavour of some of the talks:

Finland has run a mediation service since 1983, has 17 mediation offices, 1400 voluntary mediators and is funded by 7 million euros per year. The central office is very small – only 2 people – and there are systemic issues, such as restorative work being embedded in social work values which favour the victim of crime; also an uneasy tension between the highly educated volunteers compared to low salaries of employees. 

Eurocrim 2023Estelle Zinstaag reported that she is evaluating the Scottish Government’s investment in a national service for RJ in sexual violence cases, led by Thriving Survivors (who are also on the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Restorative Justice (APPG) Advisory Board, along with Why me?). The service has faced resistance from violence against women and girls organisations, which was then countered by survivors who demanded the choice. The work and research is still in progress.

Professor Joanna Shapland gave a whistle-stop tour of her research to find out about the risk mitigation strategies used to assess RJ participation. Her opening remark was to say that they are too focussed on outcomes rather than starting a journey. She has found that it is impossible to predict risks ‘before engaging with the individuals involved’. She said “I have had cases where the therapist said, you’re not ready, but the victim said I think I will never be ready but I have to do this…because, for me, the most important is the person themselves, and then it’s that person that will decide, no matter what their lawyer or therapist advises them.” And provocatively – she asked – what are the risks of NOT doing Restorative Justice?

Eurocrim 2023Dr Rebecca Banwell-Moore presented on a whole system approach to Restorative Justice based on the APPG’s Summer 2021 Inquiry and their 9 recommendations. She proposed a bicycle as a metaphor in which you need all the parts to work in order for the bike to function. 

I was delighted to hear that Pablo Romero Sesena’s research on Digital Restorative Justice, had used Why me?’s virtual guide. He said that the guide “was actually super helpful and a very strong document for constructing my thesis’ theoretical framework. As you know, at that time [2020] there was almost nothing published on this topic.” 

Claudia Mazzucato gave the International Journal of Restorative Justice annual lecture. As the person who has drafted the Italian law on RJ, she discussed the relationship between the law and restorative justice, holding a hopeful outlook that differences could be reconciled, as ‘rules of conduct’ are at the core of RJ. However, there is a long way to travel to close the gap between legal professionals and their understanding and ability to practise restoratively and she advocates responsive regulation. 

There were many more contributions but too many to cover here. All in all, it was an exciting few days and I made good connections, learning about essential research which will support Why me’s pioneering policy and delivery work powered by the lived experience of people who have participated in Restorative Justice.

The Eurocrim 2023 Conference programme is publically available.

Eurocrim 2023


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