What is Restorative Justice?

Restorative Justice conference

Restorative Justice is a transformative tool that empowers everyone affected by crime to communicate and move forwards. 

Restorative Justice gives people who have been harmed the chance to talk about the impact of the incident and seek answers about why it happened in a face-to-face meeting, via video, or through letters.

Victims of crime often feel excluded, confused, and revictimized by the criminal justice process. Restorative Justice brings them back to the heart of the discussion and allows them to have their voices heard – to detail the impact the crime had on them, and to seek answers to questions they have. 

It also helps the person responsible for the harm to understand the impact of their actions, and can encourage them to change their behaviour.

This simple video shows how a restorative process can work. It does not have any words because we want people to be able to understand it regardless of the language they speak or the way they learn. It demonstrates how, after someone has been harmed, coming together to have a discussion can help everyone involved to move on. 

The people who have been through Restorative Justice can attest to how powerful it is. Take a look at our ambassador stories to understand just how it helps people affected by crime. 

Access Restorative Justice

We run our own Restorative Justice service for those who can’t access a restorative process from their local provider. If you want to speak to someone about your options regarding Restorative Justice, email us on info@why-me.org or find out more about accessing Restorative Justice here.

Frequently Asked Questions about Restorative Justice

You can read our full FAQs here or watch the video below. 

The process of Restorative Justice

A Restorative Justice meeting only goes ahead with both parties’ consent, and is mediated by a trained Restorative Justice facilitator. The facilitator has an important role in the process, speaking to both parties a number of times in advance, and helping them to understand what they hope to get out of the process. The facilitator also manages any risks, and a meeting is only arranged if they agree that it is safe to do so. 

Some people find that an initial restorative conversation with a facilitator is all that they require, and they don’t need to pursue direct or indirect communication with the person who harmed them. Restorative Justice is flexible around the needs of the person who was harmed, which makes it a unique and powerful intervention in the Criminal Justice System.

The short film below is based on a real Restorative Justice meeting and shows how the process works. Find out more about the process here.

Watch the full video here.

The origins of Restorative Justice 

Though the term Restorative Justice was coined in the 1970s, the approach has its roots in indigenous practices reaching much further back in time. Howard Zehr, who played a significant role in formalising and popularising the modern approach, credits his understanding of this work to the Maori people of New Zealand. Restorative responses to harm, such as peacemaking circles, are also embedded in the practices of indigenous communities across Africa, America and Australia. 

These ancient traditions share a focus on interconnectedness and grounding their approach to justice in the understanding that punishment of individuals harms the wider community. In advocating for wider access to Restorative Justice, we hope to acknowledge and honour the origins of these practices.

Resources to find out more

Listen to our Restorative Talks podcast

Listen to our podcast, Restorative Talks with Why me?

What is Restorative Justice?  Read our guide


'What is Restorative Justice?' leaflet

Download the PDF version of the leaflet above.

What is Restorative Justice? Easy Read

Download our Easy Read document on ‘What is Restorative Justice?’

Are you a journalist interested in Restorative Justice? Read our guidance for media professionals interested in Restorative Justice.

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