Restorative Justice FAQ
Why would I want to have contact with the person who harmed me?
The majority of victims of crime who go through Restorative Justice find the process beneficial. Many people want to ask questions about the crime. Many want to tell the person responsible what the consequences of their actions were. Many want to ensure that they don’t offend again. Some want to forgive the person responsible, although forgiveness is a personal choice. There are a multitude of benefits that can arise for people affected by crime who go through Restorative Justice. Here are stories from people who have experienced some of these benefits.
Restorative Justice is a voluntary process, and both parties can pull out at any time, or take a break during a face to face meeting if you want to. It is common for people to be nervous before a restorative process, but people often tell us that going through a restorative process allowed them to regain power and move forward.
Why would I want to have contact with the person who I harmed by my behaviour?
Restorative Justice offers an opportunity to talk about what happened, who has been affected (including you) and what should happen next. Many people who have committed crimes have things that they want to explain to the people who were hurt, and to try to make amends for their actions. Restorative Justice can help you to move forward with your life, and seek to put offending behaviour behind you.
Can Restorative Justice be used for any type of crime?
Yes. The only criteria are that both parties consent to the process, and a trained facilitator decides that it is safe to proceed.
What is the role of a facilitator?
A trained facilitator will oversee the Restorative Justice process. This includes substantive preparation with both parties, who they speak with multiple times in advance of an intervention taking place. In these conversations they prepare the participants for what to expect, and help them to decide what they need from the process. Once both parties have been suitably prepared, and if the facilitator agrees that a further restorative process is safe, the facilitator will oversee a restorative process. For a face to face meeting, this involves the facilitator attending the meeting, and prompting all participants with structured questions which they were prepared for in advance. For indirect communication, such as letter writing, the facilitator would work with both parties on ensuring that they express what they want to say in their letter.
When is Restorative Justice used?
Restorative Justice can be used for any type of crime, as long as both parties are willing to take part. If a case goes to court, Restorative Justice happens post-conviction, and can take place while the perpetrator serves time in prison. For cases which do not go to court, Restorative Justice can occur earlier, such as alongside an out of court disposal. Restorative Justice is not usually appropriate when someone does not accept responsibility for the crime, though this acceptance does not necessarily have to be through a guilty plea. Restorative Justice can also be used outside the justice system, such as to resolve harm caused in schools or the workplace.
Can I communicate with the person who committed the crime without meeting them?
Yes. Restorative processes can be flexible around the needs and preferences of the people taking part. If a face to face meeting is not safe or desirable, communication can be arranged via processes such as letter writing, video shuttles or proxy participants.
Can I take part in a restorative process if no crime was committed?
Yes. Restorative Justice often takes place when a crime has been committed, but a restorative intervention can take place outside of the criminal justice system. This could be because a crime was committed but no charges were made, or because an incident was harmful but not criminal.
What if the person responsible doesn’t accept responsibility?
In normal circumstances, Restorative Justice can only go ahead if the person who committed the offence accepts responsibility for their actions. However, if you have been the victim of a crime committed by someone who doesn’t accept full responsibility, it is still worth getting in touch with a restorative service if you are interested. Restorative Justice has taken place in some cases despite the perpetrator not accepting full responsibility for what they have done. Whether or not this is appropriate depends on what the people affected seek to get out of the Restorative Justice meeting, and whether their expectations are realistic.
Can I stay anonymous throughout the process?
Confidentiality is taken very seriously in the Restorative Justice process and none of your information will be passed on without your permission. If you wish to stay anonymous, the facilitators can discuss with you ways to make this possible.
Is Why me?’s Restorative Justice service still running during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Yes. We are resuming face to face meetings and can also offer online meetings. Restorative Justice does not happen overnight, and a trained facilitator will speak to both parties multiple times to help them work out what they want to say, and if a meeting is desirable. We have written a good practice guide about how a restorative process can take place online.