Today, the IARS International Institute launched its latest report which assesses the impact of the first-ever London-wide restorative justice service, Restore:London (R:L). The ground-breaking report aims to measure how R:L is meeting victims’ needs of accessing restorative justice services in London.
It takes an important step in measuring the impact of restorative justice on the ground. In fact, for the first time, user-led methodologies were used to measure restorative justice, adding in this way a key milestone in the restorative justice literature.
Commissioned by The Mayor’s Office for Policing And Crime (MOPAC), Restore:London (run by Catch22, Restorative Solutions, Khulisa and The IARS International Institute) sought to ensure that victims were able to consistently access high quality restorative justice services at every stage of the criminal justice system as well as complement and enhance existing restorative justice services across London, to fill any gaps in provision.
Dr. Theo Gavrielides, IARS’ Founder and Director, said: “As a concept, restorative justice is not easy to research, let alone measure. When it comes to implementing it, the claims we make and the ambitions we have play a crucial role not only in raising expectations, but also in the ultimate picture that is painted. Developing an evidence-based restorative justice that is appropriate and proper is critical to enable empowering justice processes to put victims at the heart of its services. I am proud to have worked together with our Restore:London partners to be able to present one of the most thorough evaluations of restorative justice in the UK. It is with great pleasure that I release this report on behalf of the IARS International Institute.”
In summary, the evaluation shows that restorative justice can be effective but only when certain conditions are met. Despite increased funding for restorative justice in London, offenders are not aware of restorative justice, while it is more likely to come to the attention of victims. Overall, there is a need and an appetite for restorative justice, but existing services are failing to respond to these genuinely. Claims such as “victim-led” and tendencies to “own” restorative justice must be dismissed before any new service is commissioned using public funds.
Ben Lyon, Chair of the Independent User Scrutiny Panel, said: “This must be the first time that such a large-scale restorative service has been run, focussed primarily on the needs of victims. Credit goes to Restore:London on their initiative and ability to develop. I believe that the scrutiny provided by the Panel played a significant role in ensuring the victim stayed to the forefront.”
The independent evaluation, which ran between July 2016 and February 2019, consolidates the work undertaken in the Research and Independent User Scrutiny Panel - a steering group made up of key stakeholders, including victims, which scrutinised R:L cases and fed into the research - phases of the programme. It played a crucial role in understanding how the services were received by its users.
Undertaking a unique strategy, the evaluation combined standard qualitative/ quantitative tools with user-led research methods.
Notes to Editors
The IARS International Institute is a user-led and user-focused charity with a mission to give everyone a chance to forge a safer, fairer and more inclusive society. Over the last 10 years, the Institute has been providing world-class and cutting-edge educational, research, policy and networking services of local, national and international significance. It is focused on empowering the most marginalised communities through direct service delivery, while enabling organizations to achieve, measure and improve their social impact. IARS is an international expert in criminal justice, restorative justice, human rights and inclusion, citizenship, public service and user-led research.