Restorative Justice Works

  • Independent expert analysis finds RJ would benefit society by over £1billion read more.

  • RJC/Victim Support proposal for victims of serious crime would save £185 million read more.

  • RJC summary of Ministry Justice research into restorative justice read more.

Restorative Justice in Action

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Restorative justice works

There is a strong and growing evidence base that restorative justice meets the needs of victims and reduces the frequency of reoffending.

The Evidence

The Government funded a £7 million 7 year research programme looking into restorative justice. In her independent evaluation, published in four reports (see 'Ministry of Justice Evaluation' below) Professor Joanna Shapland found that in randomised control trials of restorative justice with serious offences (robbery, burglary and violent offences) by adult offenders:

  • The majority of victims chose to participate in face to face meetings with the offender, when offered by a trained facilitator.
  • 85% of victims who took part were satisfied with the process.
  • Restorative justice reduced the frequency of reoffending, leading to £8 savings for every £1 spent on restorative justice.

Expert independent criminologists Professor Lawrence Sherman and Dr Heather Strang state that the reduction in the frequency of reoffending found in this research was 27% - that's 27% less crime, 27% fewer victims following restorative justice.

Alongside the Sentencing Green Paper in December 2010 the Government published their own further analysis of the data behind the Shapland reports, quantifying the size of the reduction in the frequency of reoffending following restorative justice as 14%.

This strong evidence of an impact on reoffending is backed up by evidence from Northern Ireland where Youth Conferencing forms the main approach to all youth crime; and by international research evidence (see further reading below).

Cost-benefits

Working from the data in Professor Shapland's reports, the Restorative Justice Council and Victim Support presented the government with evidence that providing restorative justice in 70,000 cases involving adult offenders would deliver £185 million in cashable cost savings to the criminal justice system over two years, through reductions in reoffending alone.

The Matrix Report - an independent expert analysis of the economic benefits of restorative justice - has revealed that restorative justice would likely lead to a net benefit of over £1billion over ten years. The report concludes that diverting young offenders from community orders to a pre-court restorative justice conferencing scheme would produce a life time saving to society of almost £275 million (£7,050 per offender). The cost of implementing the scheme would be paid back in the first year and during the course of two parliaments (10 years) society would benefit by over £1billion. 

Restorative practice in schools

There is good evidence that restorative practice delivers a wide range of benefits for school communities. Recent independent evaulations of restorative practice in schools have shown that:

  • Whole-school restorative approaches were given the highest rating of effectiveness at preventing bullying by a report published by the Department for Education, with a survey of schools showing 97% rated restorative aproaches as effective.
  • In Barnet, an evaluation by the local authority found a reduction in exclusions of 51% in restorative justice trained schools; compared to a 65% increase in exclusions in the thirty two Barnet schools that have received no restorative justice training. They also found increased confidence among school staff to deal with bullying and conflicts in the school.
  • An independent evaluation of restorative justice in Bristol schools found that restorative justice improved school attendance and reduced exclusion rates. 
  • In Hull, a two-year restorative justice pilot led to 73% fewer classroom exclusions, 81% fewer fixed term exclusion days, a reduction in verbal abuse between pupils and verbal abuse towards staff of over 70%.

18th Aug 2014 | RJC

Further Reading