Restorative Justice FAQ
Is Why me?’s Restorative Justice service still running during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Yes. While we can’t facilitate face to face meetings right now, we are still accepting referrals. 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.
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. 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.
Why would I want to have contact with the person 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 which 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.
Do I have to forgive the person responsible to take part?
No. Forgiveness is a personal choice, and no one will ever be pressured to forgive the person who harmed them. Restorative Justice can still be extremely valuable to both parties without forgiveness.
Can Restorative Justice be used for any type of crime?
Yes. The only criteria are that both parties need to consent to the process, and a trained facilitator decides that it is safe to proceed.
Is it safe?
The Restorative Justice process is in the hands of a trained facilitator, and confidentiality is taken very seriously. Facilitators will not allow the process to go ahead if they do not consider it safe to do so.
Will Restorative Justice allow the person responsible to get off lightly?
No. Restorative Justice can be used alongside prison sentences or any other kind of punishment. Why me? have facilitated successful cases of Restorative Justice while people have been in prison, and their sentences have not been reduced as a result of Restorative Justice. Restorative Justice can also be used as part of a Out of Court Disposal, depending on the severity of the crime in question. As always, Restorative Justice will only go ahead with both parties’ consent.
When does Restorative Justice happen?
Restorative Justice can happen at any time during the criminal justice process, including alongside a prison sentence. Restorative Justice is not traditionally appropriate when someone does not accept responsibility for the crime though. So if a case is going to court, any Restorative Justice meeting would normally take place post-conviction.
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 letter writing, video shuttles, proxy participants or other desirable processes where applicable.
Can I take part in a restorative process if no crime was committed?
Yes. Despite traditional Restorative Justice taking place when a crime has been committed, some forms of restorative interventions can take place outside of the criminal justice system as well. This could be because a crime was committed but no charges were made, or because an incident which was not a crime caused harm which can be addressed.
What if I meet the person who committed the crime and am too frightened to go ahead?
Restorative Justice is an entirely voluntary process, and both parties can pull out at any time. You can also take a break during a face to face meeting to regain your composure and then still go ahead with the meeting. It is common for people to be nervous before a restorative process, but people often tell us that meeting the person again was not as frightening as they expected, and that it allowed them to regain power over the situation.
What if the person responsible doesn’t accept responsibility?
Restorative Justice only goes ahead with both parties’ consent. In normal circumstances, it can only go ahead if the person who committed the offence accepts responsibility for their actions. However, if you have been the victim of crime from 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.