Restorative Practice is focused on community building, that works to create equitable communities, build collective capacity,strengthen neighbourhoods and individual assets. Relationships are at the center of our community building work, with focus being on creating connections and developing social capital. Putting communities in a key position in terms of developing this approach.
Restorative practice in communities resolves conflict potentially before it turns into crime and builds in the opportunity for community ownership of solutions.
It is a key, effective approach to dealing with anti-social behaviour, graffiti, noise,criminal damage,conflict, violence in a way that enables vs disables people, from undrstanding the impact of their behaviour on others. For victims of anti-social behaviour and crime, it delivers effective outcomes owned by the local community, and also reduces the fear of crime.
I provide effective training and consultancy which provides the principles, skills and processes to help those most impacted by crime and conflict to develop their own solutions and repair harm. Through open dialogue and working together to develop the right solutions, communities start to feel strengthened and empowered.
These approaches across communities include a range of models including restorative conferences, informal processes, community mediation; police, community support officers and youth workers using restorative skills on the street for example. One more formal community led example is - Community Justice Panels. An innovative community based delivery model being used in Sheffield, South Somerset, Cardiff and other areas.
The South Somerset Community Justice Panel trains local volunteers in restorative conferencing, with panels bringing together the offender, victim, supporters/witnesses and appropriate observers from Police/Social Services.
Established in 2005, the Community Justice Panel handles cases in Chard & Mendip area, primarily referred by the police and local Housing Associations. Key statistics from the Community Justice Panel include:
Over the total of 875 cases processed to date, recidivism rates have been just 3-5% over the 12-24 month period following the panel meeting
29% of the cases in the last year are cases that would otherwise have been prosecuted, with attendant costs to the police, CPS and the court system
Victim satisfaction rates of over 90% throughout the 5 years the panel has been running.
Community Justice Panels are highlighted in the Sentencing Green Paper Breaking the Cycle as an effective model that the Government wants to pilot more widely.
Community Mediation Services exist in many areas, creating partnerships within the community to bring about involvement, commitment to restorative practice, and ensuring that appropriate cases are referred to mediation.
Both Community Mediation Services and Community Justice Panels are community based, using local volunteers to facilitate restorative meetings, building community ownership of solutions without recourse to the criminal justice system.
Research by the University of Sheffield comparing the cost of community mediation with interventions by statutory agencies found that the average cost of mediating a neighbour dispute across three mediation services varied from £160 to £430 (depending on throughput of cases); whereas Local Authority interventions could cost £1,240 - for example to go to court for an injunction.