Northamptonshire Youth Offending Service

What is Restorative Justice?

Restorative Justice starts from the point of view that something has happened and people were harmed as a result.  The aim is to put right the harm done as far as is possible – people should be ‘restored’ to the situation before the offence happened (or as near as possible).  Sometimes, this is not possible in very precise terms (for example if someone has died) but Restorative approaches can sometimes help people to understand how something happened and begin to move on. It has also been called Relational Justice because it is the repairing of relationships that is felt to produce the justice.

In England and Wales, Restorative Justice does not take the place of the other forms of Justice, but the Government is keen to see it being used alongside the other approaches, particularly in the Youth Justice System.

NYOS is convinced that Restorative Justice is a powerful tool to put things right for victims of crime; for the children and young people who have offended; for their parent and carers; and for the wider community.  As a result, NYOS is committed to delivering services based in Restorative Practices wherever possible.

Other Types of Justice

Criminal Justice systems have a number of different purposes, to do with maintaining order, preventing offending and punishing offences.  The system in England and Wales has elements of several of these, in particular:

Retributive Justice is about punishing wrongdoing at a level that matches the offence – sometimes called ‘just deserts’.  The punishment is usually something that ‘restricts the liberty’ of the offender e.g. by being put in prison, by having to spend their time on a programme or by paying money as a fine.

Individual Deterrence is about making sure that the offender doesn’t commit the crime again because what happened to them was in some way unpleasant whereas General Deterrence tries to do the same with the general population, by making an example of the offender.

Rehabilitation is about trying to stop individuals and groups from re-offending by working with them to help change the way they live their lives, so that they no longer want to offend.

All of these approaches focus on the person who committed the crime.  The crime itself, and the victims of that crime, can get completely lost. 

Restorative Justice has been shown to be very effective, and NYOS is working hard to implement it wherever it is possible as part of the overall work we do.

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