Scottish Government publishes guide to restorative justice

Written by Jenni Davidson on 13 October 2017 in News

The Scottish Government has produced a handbook for implementing restorative justice 

Justice - Image credit: Holyrood

The Scottish Government has published a guide to the use of restorative justice for councils and private and third sector providers.

Restorative justice facilitates dialogue between victims and offenders and allows victims to explain the impact the crime has had on their lives.

The aim is to empower victims by giving them a voice and to help offenders take responsibility for their actions and make amends.

Delivery of Restorative Justice in Scotland’ sets out best practice guidance and factors to be considered in delivery, based on international academic and practitioner evidence.

The guidance was developed in collaboration with the Restorative Justice Forum, whose members include Police Scotland, Sacro and Victim Support Scotland.

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said: “Over the last decade Scotland has become a safer place, with less crime and better support for victims.

“Restorative justice can build on this by giving victims a voice and tackling the likelihood of someone being drawn into further offending.

“It is a particularly powerful tool when used to address the behaviour of young people who can learn so much from dialogue with those harmed by their actions, potentially leading to a route out of crime and the revolving door of the justice system. 

“It also gives victims of crime an opportunity to communicate the impact on their lives and to regain some control.”

Professor Joanna Shapland, Chair of the Restorative Justice Forum, said: “We very much welcome the provision of this guidance, which will be useful both for practitioners and those referring to services. 

“We want to thank all those statutory and voluntary sector bodies and individuals and members of the Forum who have contributed to its development, ensuring it reflects international best practice and research and fits well the particular circumstances and aims in Scotland.”

Tom Halpin, Chief Executive of Sacro said: “Restorative Justice must be applied with strict governance and full cognisance of risk for it to be effective and safe.

“For these reasons alone, the publication of statutory guidance on processes is a very welcome and important piece of work. However, this new guidance achieves much more.

“For practitioners, facilitators and providers of services, the guidance is consistent and comprehensive in establishing best practice and core principles.

“For referrers, the guidance provides a greater understanding of the principles, effectiveness and value of restorative justice services.”

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