Professional views of the barriers to the take-up of restorative justice

Research Institution / Organisation

University of Portsmouth

In Collaboration With

Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Hampshire

Principal Researcher

Lucy Spearing

Level of Research

Masters

Project Start Date

October 2020

Research Context

Restorative Justice (RJ) has been described as a method for reconnecting offenders with their community and allowing victims to better understand the perpetrator’s circumstances (McLaughlin et al., 2003). The process of RJ involves the victim and perpetrator of an offence coming together to discuss the offence and allows the victim to express the impact it has had upon them (CPS, 2019). It can take place at any stage in the Criminal Justice process and can be integral to sentencing, in particular among juvenile offenders (CPS, 2019).

Statistics show that 85% of victims had not been offered the opportunity to communicate with the perpetrator of their crime (Gavrielides, 2018). This research also indicates that the awareness of RJ amongst offenders and victims is low. When asked whether they knew what the term "restorative justice" meant, 69% of victims and 50% of offenders had never heard of it before (Gavrielides, 2018). This is an issue that needs to be further investigated, to discover which point in the Criminal Justice process is the most appropriate to make victims and offenders aware of RJ. Gavrielides (2018) focused upon the perspective of the victim and the offender. To explore the operational barriers to the use of RJ and possible solutions, the current research aims to discover perspectives of RJ practitioners and facilitators.

Limited research investigating the barriers to RJ with RJ practitioners as the participants has been done. Using focus groups with practitioners (n=15) and telephone interviews with service managers (n=11), the Restorative Justice Council (RJC) found the following barriers: attrition in the early stages, engaging offenders, exclusions for certain offences (domestic and sexual violence), and information sharing amongst multiple organisations (Bright, 2017). To build upon this research and access a range of views, the current research will use an online survey of RJ facilitators, managers and practitioners, alongside a follow-up interview with a sub-set of participants to provide an in-depth exploration of these issues.

Th aim of this research project is to investigate what the barriers are towards the take-up of Restorative Justice from the perspective of professionals in the RJ field.

Research Methodology

The participants will be professionals that are engaged in RJ, including facilitators, managers and practitioners from various organisations across Hampshire. The research is comprised of two parts: an online survey and a follow up one-to-one interview. The online survey aims to reach as many participants as possible and from this, a sub-set of participants will be interviewed online.

The research will approach the interview analysis process from an inductive perspective using thematic analysis. Previous literature indicates a number of barriers to the take-up of RJ, therefore these will be used as a foundation for further understanding of these issues. This will be accomplished through the initial online survey that will investigate the truth in the previously established barriers to RJ, which will direct the interview process to discover a more in-depth understanding of these issues and whether there are others that have been missed.
It is necessary therefore, to have both the online survey and the follow-up interview. The online survey will provide descriptive statistics to act as the foundation for the follow-up interview whilst providing a simplified, nomothetic approach. The interview will then provide more detail to explain the findings from the survey.

Date due for completion

September 2021
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