Restorative justice is a voluntary process that brings offenders and victims into communication with the aim of repairing the harm caused by the offence.
The concept of restorative justice began within Maori communities in New Zealand, in response to a thirst for a different approach to justice. It first developed through family group conferencing, arising from a need of communities wanting to learn how to resolve disputes themselves. The practice was further developed in Australia, where the restorative justice script we use today evolved from the work of psychologists who analysed how behaviour change can be initiated. Restorative justice came to the UK in the early 1990s. It is now built into criminal justice systems across Europe. It is also used widely in Canada and America, and is especially favoured in Native American communities as a means of dispute resolution.
At Sussex Pathways, we facilitate restorative justice both inside prison and in the community. The process is victim-led, although referrals to begin restorative justice can be made by either victims or offenders. Each case is required to fulfil safety criteria and is subject to a suitability check before progressing. If suitable, it is assigned two neutral facilitators who have undergone accredited restorative justice training. Facilitators do not mediate or control communication between participants. Instead, they adhere to a structured script which gives each person in the room the chance to speak and have their voice heard. Restorative justice is a flexible process. Communication can take the form of face to face meeting, letter, or shuttle communication depending on what victims are comfortable with. Either party can withdraw at any point. Restorative justice can be a powerful process, and Sussex Pathways is proud to be able to deliver this service.
Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner
Sussex Pathways is proud to be supported by Katy Bourne, the serving Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC). Sussex Pathways receives the majority of funding for restorative justice services from the PCC. Our restorative justice practice also forms part of the Sussex Restorative Justice Partnership (SRJP). The SRJP, chaired by Nicola Walker of the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner’s office, brings together restorative justice practitioners in Sussex in order to regulate and maintain best practice. Sussex Pathways attends SRJP meetings at the PCC’s office in Lewes once a month. In addition to this, the SRJP organises specialist restorative justice training courses and promotional events involving prominent speakers in the restorative justice community.
For more information on the Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner, please visit https://www.sussex-pcc.gov.uk/