Restorative justice is a voluntary process designed to allow victims to communicate directly with their offender. This can either be face to face, through video link or by writing letters. The idea is to have a positive impact on both the victim and the offender by allowing them to come to terms with what happened. In order for it to be effective, the victim must be willing to participate and the offender must have admitted the offence.
Communication between victim and offender is at the centre of this approach. The victim has the opportunity to ask any questions and offer forgiveness, while the offender must take responsibility for their actions.
A restorative justice facilitator must decide that the process is safe for both parties' to be involved with. The three main types of restorative justice are Victim-Offender Mediation (VOM ), Family Group Conferencing (FGC ) and referral orders. Below is a brief outline of each approach:
- VOM allows the parties to communicate either directly with the help of a mediator, or indirectly through separate meetings with the mediator.
- FGC is similar to this but allows family/community members to be present and to help the offender come up with ways to resolve things.
- Referral orders are mainly used on first time young offenders- they appear before a panel that overlook the contract that is made between the offender and victim.
For further information on restorative justice and the different methods, please see the link in Related Information.