IARS was informally set up in 2001 by Dr. Theo Gavrielides. Young volunteer researchers initially run IARS as an international research network that aimed to influence policy in restorative justice, criminal justice and equality. The network was set up as a reaction to young people being excluded from the formation of policies that affect them. Several projects were run, but the organisation was not formally registered until 7 December 2004 (Company limited by guarantee No 5348191).
IARS first two Directors, Theo Gavrielides and Dale Coker set up a website and started to register IARS' first members. During this period, all IARS’ activities were carried out on a voluntary basis. Overheads and other expenses were covered by the volunteers who felt that no other genuine youth-led policy think-tank existed in the UK that would have allowed them to voice their concerns on policies and practices they felt strongly about. In June 2006, the first Trustees Board was recruited.
In June 2008, IARS was formally registered as a charity (No 1124590) with a mission to give everyone a chance to forge a safer, fairer and more inclusive society. We do this by producing evidence-based solutions to current social problems, sharing best practice and by supporting young people and community members to shape decision making. IARS is an international expert in restorative justice, human rights and inclusion, citizenship and user-led research.