Independent Academic Research Studies (IARS) released its report "Restorative Justice and the Secure Estate: Alternatives for Young People". The findings are based on a UK focused, three year (2009-11) research project.

The report forms part of the larger "Mediation and Restorative Justice in Prison Settings"project (MEREPS),  funded by the European Commission.

Dr. Theo Gavrielides, author of the report and IARS Director, said: “Restorative justice is back on the agenda; it now appeals to the politicians and this report comes at a critical point as the government is reviewing its policy on prisons. It was not my intention to speak for or against restorative justice but through the independence that EU funds allowed us to have, provide a critical, evidence-based analysis of the potential of restorative justice in the secure estate. Young people were at the heard of our research and we hope that the findings open up a new debate on effective and alternative practices”.

Lizzie Nelson, Director of the Restorative Justice Council said:“Ministry of Justice evidence shows restorative justice reduces re-offending, and meets the needs of victims. The Government has made clear their commitment to widening access to restorative justice at all stages of the Criminal Justice System, whether an offender is given a custodial or a community sentence. This new IARS report contributes to the growing body of evidence that restorative justice works, and should be a mainstream approach to work with offenders in custody, ensuring offenders take responsibility, and giving victims a say in how offenders make amends.”

Based on qualitative data from young people, practitioners, policy makers, victims, offenders and academics, the paper posits evidence-based recommendations for policy and strategy analysts, researchers and practitioners.

The project’s international mapping exercise indicates that an array of restorative justice practices exist in prison settings. Their quality and impact varies significantly while issues such as standards, monitoring, evaluation and safeguards are dealt with on an ad hoc basis by the given practitioner and prison governor.

The report highlights the unique benefits that restorative justice has for young people in custody. It also builds a business case from a cost benefit analysis.The barriers and enablers in making restorative justice successful in the secure estate are researched and critically presented.

Graham Robb, Board Member of the Youth Justice Board (YJB) said:“This report is an important contribution to thinking about what sort of secure estate provision we want for the young people who are placed into custody. It is also a chance to restate the importance of maintaining a separate secure estate for under 18s with a focus on development and learning for return to the community”.

To get a copy of the report please contact S.Topa@iars.org.uk or visit http://www.iars.org.uk/content/latest-iars-publications

The report will be officially launched on 1 December 2011 at a joint IARS and Restorative Justice Council seminar in central London. The event will be chaired by Dr. Graham Robb,. Other speakers include Bill Kerslake (Head of Effective Sentences YJB), Rebecca Newby (NOMS Directorate of Commissioning and Commercial), Penelope Gibbs Director of Strategy at Prison Reform Trust and Lizzie Nelson (Director RJC). To book a place please follow this link. 

Notes to Editors

Press Release contact - Dr. Theo Gavrielides, 020 7820 0945, T.Gavrielides@iars.org.uk

IARS: www.iars.org.uk

MEREPS: http://mereps.foresee.hu/index.php?L=2

RJC: http://www.restorativejustice.org.uk/

The report was peer reviewed by Prof. Daniel Van Ness (Executive Director of the Centre for Justice and Reconciliation, Prison Fellowship International USA), Prof. John Winterdyk (Director of the Centre for Criminology and Justice Research, Department of Justice Studies, Mount Royal University, Canada), and Dr. Marian Liebmann (UK).