Proving the value of your restorative work

Published: Friday, May 26th, 2023

This is a blog by our Communications and Events Coordinator Keeva Baxter.


Restorative Justice can transform the lives of people affected by crime. This is made clear by the testimony of the people who have been through the process themselves. Whilst practitioners see the transformative effects of Restorative Justice in our day to day work, proving the value of it to decision makers, policy makers or people who are not familiar with the process can be challenging. However, it is crucial in getting the investment we need to continue our work.

For policy makers and decision makers, who make their decisions primarily on financial factors, we need to be able to prove the economic viability of the services. On top of this, we need to be able to prove that the effects of Restorative Justice can be valuable to lots of people who have experienced a variety of crime types. While we continue to share powerful individual stories, there is still a huge pool of people we have not yet reached who could significantly benefit from RJ processes. In order to demonstrate this, we need data on our services, the support we provide and the outcomes that this leads to. 

Data collection at the moment is inconsistent across the country. With no detailed guidance on what data should be collected, each service does it differently. The information that one service submits to the Ministry of Justice is different to what their neighbouring services submit so nationally there are up to 43 different methods of data collection. This inconsistency means that we cannot draw generalisable conclusions about the provision of Restorative Justice across the country. Why me?’s Valuing Victims research has found that many data entries submitted to the Ministry of Justice were incomplete with information missing or had implausibly large variations in data, raising questions about its reliability. But, without guidance on what data to collect and submit, how will we achieve a meaningful, national picture of Restorative Justice?

Last week we held a Restorative Justice forum on the topic to discuss this issue with others in the restorative field. We were joined by Ben Fisk, an academic who is currently writing a PhD on ‘Evidencing Success and Successful Evidence in Restorative Work’. Ben shared the challenges of defining success within Restorative Justice. His work will analyse the language and details being recorded in different services through surveys, interviews and reviews of existing documents. 

When recording our provision of Restorative Justice, what do we mean by an outcome? What do we mean by ‘Restorative Justice’? Do we count an initial phone call or do we only record the processes that reach a face to face conference? There is so much valuable work going on that may not be represented in the data that we collect. In order to show the impact of our work, demonstrate the effect of restorative interventions to policy makers and get investment from decision makers, we need consistent and reliable data. 

We need to have consistent definitions of the measures we use and share best practice with other services. Collaboration across services will help spread best practice and increase the efficiency and consistency of data collection nationally. 

Whilst cross-service collaboration and defining key terms to create consistent data will help us to prove the value of our work, it may take time. One way that services can quickly and efficiently prove the value of what they are doing is to use our economic evaluation model

Using this model, you can input your own data to evaluate the financial benefits of your service’s work. As services vary in capacity and RJ provision, the data inputted can include number of referrals, types of offences addressed, and numbers of face-to-face Restorative Justice interventions. On a national level, our model showed that for every £1 invested in Restorative Justice, £14 is saved. A similar figure can be produced specific to your service, which can then be used to encourage your decision-makers to continue their investment in it. 

Why me?’s website has helpful videos and written instructions to guide you through the model. We are also offering one-to-one sessions with the economist who created the model, Frank Grimsey Jones. Please get in contact with Lucy Harris at to arrange a call.

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