Mitigating risk in restorative justice

Joanna Shapland*, Jamie Buchan, Steve Kirkwood, Estelle Zinsstag

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Assessing and mitigating risks is essential for safe restorative justice practice, and yet very little has been written on this topic. In this study, we addressed this issue by interviewing 30 experienced restorative justice practitioners from eleven jurisdictions across Europe to explore how they assessed and mitigated risks. Our findings show that assessment and mitigation practices focused on risks relating to the restorative justice process proceeding safely, especially in relation to any feelings of safety for the potential participants, rather than, for example, risks of re-offending. Although practitioners reported some cases being ‘too risky’ for restorative justice, this was rare, and was usually due to the requirements for restorative justice being violated, such as the offender denying responsibility, the presence of threats or coercion, or mental ill health or substance abuse that prevented communication, rather than the type or severity of the offence. Rather than the standardised or actuarial risk assessment tools used in other criminal justice contexts, risk assessment and mitigation in restorative justice practice is being done through processes based on restorative justice practices and principles; that is, through discussion, negotiation, and mutual agreement.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe International Journal of Restorative Justice
Early online date25 Sept 2023
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 Sept 2023

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • risk
  • restorative justice
  • complex cases
  • facilitator

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