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Systems Change

Restorative CJS

Why do we need a restorative criminal justice system?

The criminal justice system in England and Wales takes a punitive response to crime. It seeks to punish individuals but does very little to repair harm to victims and reconnect individuals to the community. 

Restorative justice is a voluntary process which brings victims and individuals who have committed a crime into communication to address harmResearch shows it can improve victim satisfaction and wellbeing and reduce reoffendingBut restorative justice is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the wider restorative practice and approaches taking place across the criminal justice system. 

Restorative practice and approaches support people to recognise harm, take responsibility, resolve tension and conflict, and repair relationships. Examples include interventions within prisons to reduce violence and within schools to prevent exclusions and subsequent criminal exploitation of children. 

The CJA identifies opportunities for restorative justice, practice and approaches and advocates for a restorative criminal justice system.  

A restorative meeting

Our recent work:

Restorative Expert Group

Our Restorative Expert Group informs our work  on restorative justice, practice and approachesThe group meets regularly to discuss the barriers to a restorative criminal justice system and identify ways forward.

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Campaigning for a national action plan for restorative justice

A national action plan could increase access to, awareness of and capacity for restorative justice, but the last plan expired in 2018 and hasn’t been renewed. We worked with Baroness Molly Meacher to table an amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill which would require the government to regularly produce a national action plan. Read the government’s response. We continue to campaign for a national action plan via other avenues, such as in our response to the government’s consultation on the upcoming Victims’ Bill.

Calling for a more restorative approach in prisons

The government recently published its Prisons White Paper, setting out its strategy for prisons over the next 10 years. In our response, we call for prison staff to be trained in taking a restorative approach when dealing with conflict. We also recommend that Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service uses restorative practices in human resources policies and processes to truly embed a restorative culture.

Read the response

Responding restoratively to COVID-19

The first in our Responding Restoratively series, this briefing looks at how restorative justice, practice and approaches have been used to repair harm and alleviate conflict during the pandemic. We also considered how restorative practice and approaches could help society heal as it recovers from the pandemic. 

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A journey of learning, growth and change

In this briefing, we studied how restorative justice is being used in England and Wales, finding a postcode lottery in access to restorative justice. We also looked at the restorative practice taking place across the criminal justice system, as well as the emerging trend of restorative schools, restorative prisons and restorative cities.  

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The cost of an entitlement to restorative justice

In 2016, we calculated the cost of giving every victim in England and Wales the opportunity to engage in restorative justice. Despite the benefits of restorative justice for victims, no such national costing had been done by policy makers.

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