Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools


Police as Restorative Justice Facilitators

Police not only divert cases to restorative justice programmes, in some they actuallly facilitate the restorative encounters.

Gwent police officer tackles crime by bringing criminals face-to-face with their victims
From the article on WalesOnline: A police officer is tackling crime in a different way – by bringing criminals face to face with their victims. PC Hayley Nowell became part of the team at Blaenau Gwent and Caerphilly Youth Offending Service (YOS) last year to work on a restorative justice programme. It involves victims of crime meeting the offenders to explain the effect their actions have had. PC Nowell described the tactic as “powerful” and said it has proven results in reducing repeat offending.
RJC's response to the Victim's Code consultation paper
from the Restorative Justice Council: ....Requests for information about restorative justice 1. The duty on the police to direct victims to information on restorative justice and how they can take part is a hugely welcome development which will help make more restorative processes victim-led. 2. In our experience even victims who are aware of restorative justice and want to access it frequently come up against poor awareness among Criminal Justice System professionals about what restorative justice is, when it might be appropriate and whether it is locally available. This duty therefore has the potential to radically improve the experience of thousands of victims who could benefit from restorative justice.
Restorative Justice in the Greater Manchester Police
from the report by Baxter, Schoeman and Goffin called Innovation in justice: New delivery models and better outcomes: ....The first of the five aims, to reduce crime, is an area where GMP has had significant success in recent years. A key part of the crime reduction strategy is to “make more use of Restorative Justice to give victims the opportunity to challenge offenders and make them understand the consequences of their behaviour”. In a criminal Justice context, victims are given the chance to tell offenders the real impact of their crime, to get answers and to get an apology. This helps offenders understand the real impact of what they’ve done and holds them to account for it while also helping victims to get on with their lives. To some extent, RJ runs counter to the culture that developed within police forces in response to central government targets because it can adversely affect the statistics traditionally used to assess police performance. Performance was measured against targets such as the numbers of sanctioned detections (where an offender is charged, cautioned, reported for summons, reprimanded, the offence is taken into consideration or where a fixed penalty notice is issued), the numbers of stop and search events and numbers of arrests. The last of these central government policing targets was removed in 2010.
Pioneer justice scheme is working in Norfolk
From the article by Peter Walsh: Norfolk Constabulary is committed to becoming part of the first truly restorative county in the country by 2015 and has been singled out as a force which actively promotes restorative justice by bringing victims and offenders together to discuss an outcome without it having to go through the court system. More than 17,000 people have been through the restorative justice process since November 2007 with a total of 4,611 interventions.
Lancashire's restorative justice scheme criticised
from Sam Chadderton's article in the Lancaster and Morecambe Citizen: The use of restorative justice is ‘inconsistent’ across Lancashire police, according to a report. The tactic often involves offenders coming face to face with their victims and apologising or making amends either instead of, or as well as, a more formal punishment.
Stewart, Anna Louise and Smith, Frances. Youth Justice Conferencing and Police Referrals: The Gatekeeping Role of Police in Queensland, Australia
Youth justice conferencing in Queensland, Australia is a process which brings together those people in the community which have been most affected by a criminal offense the offender, the victim, and their supporters, and was established after an amendment in 1996 to the Juvenile Justice Act of 1992. Youth justice conferencing relies on the discretionary referral of young offenders by the police. Since the introduction of conferencing, low rates of police referrals were identified as a critical issue in undermining the successful implementation of conferencing. This study explored Queensland police officers’ training, experience, understandings of youth justice conferencing, and their individual discretionary policing style. In addition, the impact of these factors on officers’ attitudes towards conferencing and their reported likelihood of referring to conference were examined. Of the 600 questionnaires mailed out to randomly selected operational police officers in the Metropolitan North, Metropolitan South, Southeastern, and Southern regions, 184 questionnaires were available for analyses. Of the 184 police officers, 28 reported that they had never heard of conferencing. Of those officers who had heard of conferencing, the majority had received no training in relation to conferencing. Overall, surveyed officers who had heard of conferencing considered it to be a positive process. Those who had received training were more likely to endorse conferencing as a positive process. In addition, exposure to conferencing increased officers’ beliefs in the effectiveness of conferencing and ensured they were familiar with the procedures involved in conferencing. Study limitations are presented and briefly discussed. Abstract courtesy of National Criminal Justice Reference Service,
Joseph Rowntree Foundation. An evaluation of the implementation and effectiveness of an initiative in restorative cautioning
In 1998, Thames Valley Police launched a restorative cautioning initiative, whereby police officers administering cautions were meant to invite all those affected by the offence, including victims, to a meeting. The police officer used a script to facilitate a structured discussion about the harm caused by the offence and how this could be repaired. Richard Young and Carolyn Hoyle of Oxford University helped the police to implement this new way of cautioning, and carried out a formal evaluation of the process and the outcomes achieved. The researchers found that: Thames Valley Police was largely successful in transforming its cautioning practice. The restorative justice script was used in over two-thirds of cautions. Over the first three years of the initiative, 1,915 restorative conferences took place at which victims were present. In a further 12,065 restorative cautions, the views of any absent victims were relayed by the cautioning officer. This is the largest-scale restorative justice programme in the United Kingdom to date. Implementation of the restorative cautioning model in individual cautions was often deficient. Police facilitators sometimes sidelined the other participants and occasionally asked illegitimate questions. By the end of the research project implementation was much better, although still not always good. Offenders, victims and their respective supporters were generally satisfied with the fairness of the process and the outcomes achieved. Cautioning sessions that adhered most closely to restorative justice principles tended to produce the most positive outcomes. Restorative cautioning appears to be significantly more effective than traditional cautioning in reducing the risk of re-offending. (excerpt)
Shaw, Mandy. Hard Coating, Soft Centre? The Role of the Police in Dordrecht Offender Rehabilitation Programmes
As Mandy Shaw explains, Dordrecht rehabilitation programs take their name from a successful program initiated in Dordrecht, Holland, in 1992. Dordrecht programs offer offenders convicted of burglary in criminal court an alternative to a custodial prison sentence. They are designed to address the root causes of persistent offending through intensive supervision and rehabilitation instead of incarceration. When an offender agrees to participate in a Dordrecht program, it typically involves two program personnel, one from the police service and one from the probation service. Shaw characterizes the Dordrecht model as an extension of restorative justice. Just as the restorative justice approach represents a change in offender-victim interaction after a crime from retribution to restitution so the Dordrecht approach consists of a new interaction between the offender and the police. With all of this in mind, and in a United Kingdom context, Shaw explores the role of the police in the interplay between "hard" and "soft" policing elements of the Dordrecht model.
O'Mahony, David and Doak, Jonathan. Restorative Justice -- Is More Better?: The Experience of Police-Led Restorative Cautioning Pilots in Northern Ireland
Under the two programs, juveniles (under 17 years old) who committed an offense were diverted from formal prosecution through a formal caution under a restorative justice approach. Evaluation researchers conducted fieldwork from September 2000 to April 2001. All case files (n=1,861) handled by the juvenile liaison officers in the 2 areas over the duration of the project were reviewed. Attention was given to the types of cases that came to the attention of the liaison officers and how the cases were resolved, categorized as "no further police action," "advice and warning," "caution," or "prosecution." The conferences typically consisted of the officer inviting the juvenile to state in his/her own words what they had done to warrant police action. This was usually followed with a question about the youth's motivation for committing the offense. The facilitator would then inquire about the actual and potential consequences of the act for the victim (not present), the juvenile's family, and the juvenile himself/herself. The conference would result in a cautioning agreement that might include expression of remorse, agreement to pay for damage, a written apology to the victim, and agreement to perform certain duties or engage in prescribed behaviors. Evaluators conducted interviews with 29 participants, their parents, and their victims. All participants valued the philosophy underlying the programs and viewed their implementation as appropriate and effective; however, there were two major areas of concern identified by evaluators, i.e., the risk of "net-widening" (drawing offenders into police processing who would have previously received only a verbal caution or warning from police) and the lack of significant victim participation in the programs. Abstract courtesy of National Criminal Justice Reference Service,
Fitzgerald, Jacqueline and Vignaendra, Sumitra. Reoffending Among Young People Cautioned by Police or Who Participated in Youth Justice Conference.
This study investigated the rate of reoffending among young people who were cautioned by New South Wales (NSW) Police or who participated in a youth justice conference for the first time in 1999. Results of this study showed that continued contact with the criminal justice system also occurred among those participating in diversionary alternatives to court; however, this contact seemed less common. This is particularly true for offenders who are older at their first caution or conference, female offenders, and non-Indigenous offenders. Although the study showed a clear difference in the rate of appearance in court for those given a caution versus a conference, this difference should not be taken as an indication of the relative effectiveness of cautions versus conferences in reducing juvenile reoffending. Since 1998, a significant proportion of young offenders in New South Wales (NSW) have been dealt with by warning caution or youth justice conference under the Young Offenders Act of 1997 rather than proceeding through the traditional court system. Utilizing two cohorts of young people, one of which was cautioned by NSW Police in 1999 and the other completing a youth justice conference, this study describes the likelihood and frequency of reoffending, the time it takes to reoffend, and the likelihood of receiving a penalty of imprisonment all within 5 years of the caution or conference. (Abstract courtesy of the National Criminal Justice Reference Service,
Thames Valley Police. Thames Valley Police Chief Constable's Annual Report 1998-1999.
This annual report for the Thames Valley Police highlights the major efforts and directions for policing in the Thames Valley area for 1998-1999 and beyond. As indicated in the Chief Constable’s foreword, the focus has been on development of a problem-solving approach to policing, both for crime prevention and for resolution of crimes that occur. Additionally, the police have worked closely with local authorities to forge new statutory partnerships under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, and they have extended the principles and uses of restorative justice across the police force. The principal application was the restorative conference, a process whereby trained police facilitators bring together young offenders, their families, and the victims of their crimes to acknowledge and address the harm caused by the crime or crimes. The report covers key statistics on crime and policing, initiatives in local communities, and specific policing areas or issues (e.g., road safety, racism, crime prevention, and restorative justice).
Cunningham, Teresa. Pre-court diversion in the Northern Territory: impact on juvenile reoffending.
A juvenile pre-court diversion scheme was introduced in the Northern Territory in 2000. Administered by police, it uses warnings and conferences to divert selected juveniles from the court process. This paper reports on an analysis of Northern Territory police records on 3,597 apprehended juveniles over a 5 year period. Findings showed that the great majority of juveniles (76%) did not reoffend within the first year after their initial diversion or court appearance. However, there were significant differences between juveniles who attended court and those who were diverted, both in terms of risk of reoffending and time to reoffending. Those who were diverted reoffended less than those who attended court and those who went to court reoffended more quickly. Property offenders who attended court were 30 percent more at risk of reoffending than violent offenders. Further work is required to see if the different effects for court versus diversion remain if prior offending history is taken into account. The significant differences in offending related to age, gender, Indigenous status and location confirm the need for specific responses to particular groups of juveniles. (author's abstract)
Wachtel, Benjamin and McCold, Paul. Restorative Policing Experiment: The Bethlehem Police Family Group Conferencing Project. Summary.
This paper updates preliminary results reported in 1996. (For that report, see the following. McCold, Paul, and John Stahr. 1996. "Bethlehem Police Family Group Conferencing Project." Paper, with preliminary results, presented at the American Society of Criminology Conference, Annual Meeting. Chicago, 20-23 November 1996.)This paper is an evaluation of a restorative justice program operated by the police in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, a mid-sized American city. Although developed independently from the restorative justice movement, family group conferencing is considered an important new development in restorative justice practice as a means of dealing more effectively with young offenders by diverting them from court and involving their extended families and victims in addressing their wrongdoing. Originating in New Zealand in 1989, conferencing was substantially revised as a community policing technique in Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, Australia, in 1991. The 'Wagga model' was introduced to North America in 1995 by the Real Justice® organization.
Heslop, J. Diverting Young Offenders from the Formal Justice System
Two alternatives to institutionalization for juvenile offenders, police cautioning and the juvenile and mediation reparation programs, in New South Wales are described. A caution is a formal procedure in which the offender admits to the commission of a less serious offense and agrees to participate with a parent or guardian in the caution process at a police station. In the mediation/reparation program, young offenders are encouraged to make direct amends to the victims of the crime. Any agreement between the two parties is monitored by the Community Justice Center. Benefits are incurred in this type of program for the victim, the young offender, the community, and the police.
McCold, Paul. Police-Facilitated Restorative Conferencing. What the Data Show
The recent development of police officers conducting community conferences for juvenile offenders has created concern among restorative justice advocates. This paper considers the potential dangers and benefits of police-facilitated conferences in light of recent empirical evaluations of restorative policing and earlier evaluations of criminal mediation programs in the U.S. and Canada. Results demonstrate that police are capable of conducting such programs in a highly restorative manner. Police conferences were rated higher than mediation programs on participant satisfaction and sense of fairness. The advantages of police operated restorative program include direct access to cases and a much lower operational cost. Police can become important stakeholders in the restorative justice movement. There is a need for future program evaluations to use consistent measurements to confirm these findings, but initial evidence suggest the concerns raised pose a greater threat to some criminal mediation programs than to police-facilitated conferencing programs.
Wachtel, Benjamin and McCold, Paul. The Bethlehem Pennsylvania Police Family Group Conferencing Project
This is a report on the Bethlehem Pennsylvania Police Family Group Conferencing Project. First-time moderately serious juvenile offenders were randomly assigned either to formal adjudication or to a diversionary "restorative policing" process called family group conferencing. Police-based family group conferencing employs trained police officers to facilitate a meeting attended by juvenile offenders, their victims, and their respective family and friends, to discuss the harm caused by the offender's actions and to develop an agreement to repair the harm. Victim and offender participation is voluntary. The effect of the program was measured through surveys of victims, offenders, offender's parents and police officers and by examining outcomes of conferences and formal adjudication. Results are related to six questions about restorative policing. Findings include: 42% participation rate, 100% of conferences (n=67) reaching an agreement, 94% of offenders (n=80) fully complying with agreements, and participant satisfaction and sense of fairness exceeding 96%. Results suggests that recidivism was more a function of offenders choice to participate than the effects of the conferencing, per se. Violent offenders participating in conferences had lower rearrest rates than violent offenders declining to participate, but this was not true for property offenders.
Carroll, M. Implementation Issues: Considering the Conferencing Options for Victoria
The potential advantages and dangers of family group conferences are discussed in the context of the existing juvenile justice system in Victoria under the Children and Young Persons Act 1989. These approaches have led to fewer young people admitted by courts to supervised programs making the need for more diversion approaches questionable. Concerns about police-based family group conferences include police neutrality, police role as prosecutor and judge, and program costs. Concerns about the New Zealand model include professional involvement in decision making, low victim satisfaction, net-widening, and costs of program implementation.
Sherman, Lawrence W and Strang, Heather. Restorative Justice and Deterring Crime.
The authors contend that experiments in reintegrative shaming by the Canberra police (Australia) indicate that offenders are more deterred from repeat offending after experiencing the restorative justice approach of diversionary conferencing than after court proceedings. These preliminary findings of the Canberra police conferencing program are especially important because some critics have called shaming conferences a "soft option."
Sherman, Lawrence W and Barnes, Geoffrey. Restorative Justice and Offenders' Respect for the Law
Sherman and Barnes review a new practice by the Canberra police. The new method, called "diversionary conferencing" in the ACT, was introduced in 1994 and has been under evaluation since mid-1995. It adopts principles of restorative justice and seeks to condemn the crime but not the criminal. Conferences work by diverting confessed offenders from court to a far more intense, personal (and lengthy) alternative. Influenced also by juvenile justice reforms in New Zealand, these conferences represent a radically new approach to community policing because they mobilise a community of concerned citizens around the offender, the victim, and the crime.
White, R. "Shaming and Reintegrative Strategies: Individuals, State Power and Social Interests."
This paper discusses the police "shame and reintegration" model of Wagga Wagga family group conferences on two areas of concerns: theoretical foundations, and procedures and outcomes. Failure to explain and address social factors such as poverty, racism, sexism and lack of access to community resources is evident by the theory's focus on reform of individuals. The extension of police powers to include the realm of sentencing and corrections is particularly problematic. Concerns are also expressed about the administration (due process, evaluation, confidentiality and net-widening), the nature of the intervention and the possible outcomes of family group conferences.

Document Actions

Restorative Justice Online - Featured Video

Restorative Justice Library Search

Search 11427 publications on restorative justice