Restorative Justice: pathways for the future

1 July 2015


Reported by Tom Rodger, AHRC-funded Policy Intern, Centre for Science and Policy (April - July 2015)

Download a copy of the report.

"The emotions of anger, shame, guilt and regret form a complex cocktail of feelings associated with crime and justice. If we are to make progress in achieving the crime prevention goals of justice, it may happen from better understanding of how we can mobilise those emotions more effectively."

Lawrence Sherman and Heather Strang, ‘Restorative Justice: the evidence’, 2007.

On 22 June 2015 the Centre for Science and Policy ran a workshop titled 'Restorative Justice: pathways for the future'. The event was organised in partnership with the Restorative Justice Council, the independent third sector membership body for the field of restorative practice, and the University of Cambridge's Faculty of Education.

Restorative justice (RJ) involves the bringing together of the victims and perpetrators of crime, providing them with a controlled environment to meet and discuss the harm that has been caused. RJ places victims at the heart of the justice system, giving them an active role in the process and opportunity for catharsis or healing. It can also have a transformational effect on offenders, requiring them to confront the human consequences of their actions.

Restorative Justice: pathways for the future

The workshop brought together academics from across disciplines with representatives of third sector organisations and central government to discuss the state of research into RJ and to consider how future research might improve the work of RJ practitioners and commissioning bodies. Given the breadth of the academic and professional expertise at the event, it is little surprising that the conversation was wide-ranging, taking in both the highly conceptual and the highly practical. Mediating between these two levels of analysis generated much interesting conversation and suggested unexpected disciplinary connections. As discussions turned to the processes by which academic insight might impact policy decisions, delegates considered how the media narrative of 'soft' versus 'hard' justice, while politically attractive, undermined the objective of a rational and effective justice system.

The range of perspectives at the workshop provided a valuable opportunity to make new and unexpected cross-disciplinary networks. It is hoped that these connections, and the prospect of novel RJ research, will, in time, produce definite policy outcomes.


Thumbnail, 'F. W. Pomeroy's 1906 statue of Justice on the dome of the Old Bailey (Central Criminal Court) in London, England, UK', Erasoft24

Banner image from thomas_sly on Flickr)