Restorative Justice and Domestic Violence

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  • About the Project

    Restorative Justice in cases of domestic violence: Best practice examples between increasing mutual understanding and awareness of specific protection needs’ is a two year EU-funded project that began in February 2014 with a primary emphasis on the European Directive on Minimum Standards of the rights, support and protection of victims of crime (particularly Articles 12 and 25). Independent Academic Research Studies (IARS) will represent the UK in the project which is led by the Verwey- Jonker Institute, a national, independent institute for applied research into social issues. The project will be assisted by five European partners namely Institut für Konfliktforschung (IKF) Austria, Landsorganisationen for Kvindekrisecentre LOKK Denmark, European Public Law Organization (EPLO) Greece, Department of Criminal Policy of the Ministry of Justice Finland, and European Forum for Restorative Justice (EFRJ).

    The project aims to generate and pilot new knowledge on practices of restorative justice and domestic violence and to identify criteria for offering restorative approaches to such cases, in accordance with the Victims' Directive. The project will also investigate regulations of restorative justice and mediation in their practical approaches concerning domestic abuses (be this gender specific or interfamilial), as well as understanding under what conditions restorative justice is appropriate. The result will be a guide, with a set of recommendations based on evidence-based research and practice. The guide will aim to improve the knowledge of practitioners working in the field and will be written in English, Finnish, German, Dutch and Greek.

    Project activities include; preparatory research that will look at existing evidence, culminating in a comparative literature review and interviews with victims, perpetrators and professionals that will inform the practical guide as well as in-depth meetings to discuss results at a European-level.

  • Project Background
    Restorative justice has developed over the last decade in both legal and social contexts across European Union member states. The European Directive on minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime declares that victims must have access to safe and competent restorative justice services. But in cases of domestic violence, restorative justice is not evident. The United Nations and the Council of Europe have issued guidance that prohibits their member states from using mediation in cases of violence against women. The dynamics of domestic violence create particular challenges for the practice of restorative justice, especially in achieving safety and voluntary participation. The readiness and suitabilty of restorative justice in cases of domestic violence remains largely unexplored and indepth research is needed, as well as exchage of best practice throughout Europe.

  • Project Updates

    • January 2016 The final Restorative Justice and Domestic Violence: A Practitioner's Guide was launched in Brussels on 26th January at the Restorative Justice and Domestic Violence: Challenges for Implementation international conference. Representatives from all project partners presented the project's findings and the Guide was officially released. More information about the conference can be found here and the final Guide can be downloaded here
    • November 2015 The opportunity to submit feedback on the Draft Guide has now closed. We will be meeting with our project partners in late November to review the feedback received and will present the final Restorative Justice and Domestic Violence: A Practitioner's Guide on 26th January 2016 in Brussels. More information about this event can be found here.
    • October 2015 IARS and our project partners are excited to release our Second Comparative Report which details the findings from our interviews and focus groups with domestic violence victims, offenders and restorative justice practitioners which will help inform the Practitioners Guide. Accompanying the report is an Addendum which includes more detailed country specific reports from each project partner.
    • October 2015 There is just over two weeks left to give us your expert feedback on the Draft Restorative Justice and Domestic Violence: A Practitioner's Guide. The opportunity to submit feedback will close on Friday 30th October.
    • September 2015 In partnership with  Khulisa UK, IARS held its 3rd Annual Restorative Justice Expert Seminar on Monday 28th September. The event brought together stakeholders and experts from a wide range of organisations to discuss the forthcoming ‘Restorative Justice & Domestic Violence: A Practitioner’s Guide’ which will provide an evidence-based framework to enhance policy development and service delivery to victims in the UK and Europe. Participants were asked to provide expert feedback in response to a Draft Guide circulated prior to the Seminar. Expert speakers included Julia Houlston Clark, Chief Executive of Wales Restorative Approaches Partnership, and Jude Watson, Violence against Women and Girls Strategy Manager, Operations Directorate, Crown Prosecution Service. Through their expert knowledge and high level of experience in regards to restorative justice and domestic violence, the participants provided critical analysis that will greatly contribute to the finalisation of the Guide. The feedback gathered at the Seminar will be further considered, in conjunction with the feedback received by our project partners across Europe, and the finalised Guide will be presented in January 2016 in Brussels.   
    • May 2015 We are currently preparing for the Restorative Justice & Domestic Violence International Reception on Monday 1st June 2015. This International Reception is part of the Restorative Justice and Domestic Violence Conference (1st- 3rd June 2015) and will bring together over 60 international stakeholders and experts in discussing recent project findings, debate issues of safeguarding participants and share good practice. The evening will also give the attendees an opportunity to contribute to the project's forthcoming "EU Best Practice Guide: Restorative Justice with Domestic Violence Cases”. 
    • April 2015 Using results from the comparative report, coupled with interviews conducted with victims and offenders; the best practice guide is currently being drafted. The aim of this guide is to actively reflect the needs of users and ensuring that safeguards are in place when using restorative justice in cases of domestic violence. The first draft of the guide will be presented at the International Restorative Justice and Domestic Violence Conference, taking place on 1-2 June 2015 in London. At the event key stakeholders, researchers and practitioners will be given the opportunity to offer their input into the best practice guide and discuss overall research findings.
    • March 2015 The IARS International Institute launched a comparative report that offers new evidence in the use of restorative justice in cases of domestic violence. This report involved research from five European partner countries and sought to document the increasing application of the process.
    • 4-6th February 2015 Members from The IARS International Institute attended the second project meeting in Hannover, Germany. The meeting brought together project coordinators from the five participating countries including UK, Austria, Denmark, Greece and Finland with researchers and practitioners to critically debate their country's research findings, exchange expertise and best practice.
    • December 2014 The IARS International Institute has been conducting interviews with victims and offenders as a part of our contribution to workstream 2 of the project. These interviews are essential to get insight in their positive and negative experiences with RJ and if safety was guaranteed.
    • 19-20th November 2014 The IARS Annual Conference 2014 entitled “A victim-led criminal justice system?” took place and we had the pleasure to welcome speakers on the use of RJ in cases of domestic and sexual violence.
    • 23 October 2014 The Annual IARS expert seminar was held this year at Khulisa offices, and focused specifically on Restorative Justice and Domestic Violence. Attended by participants from a wide range of organisations, the seminar aimed to establish what the various experts thoughts on the use of RJ in cases of domestic violence and their experience of practicing it if they had any. Addresses from Fiona Landon from Project Restore and Jon Collins from the Restorative Justice Council were followed by informal discussion time. Participants also offered their comments and potential alternatives to the Home Office’s recent recommendation that behavioural patterns of abuse should be classified as criminal.
    • 06 September 2014 IARS and Khulisa UK are delighted to announce the 2nd Annual Restorative Justice Expert Seminar, focusing on domestic violence and our work on this project. The Seminar will be taking place on Thursday 23rd October in 5-7 Wells Terrace, Finsbury Park, London, N4 3JU, and will place specific emphasis on the findings of our recently published country report. To learn more about this innovative event, and to get involved, click here.
    • 28 July 2014 In response to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) call to review how domestic violence is prosecuted, IARS submitted a response that looked at the definition of domestic violence and also at the approach taken by prosecutors in cases of domestic violence. Additionally, it made recommendations in ways minority groups are affected by the issue and how restorative justice might be used in such cases. This was completed in July and to view, please click here.
    • 14-15 July 2014 On the 14th and 15th of July representatives from the six participating member states attended a meeting in Helsinki hosted by the Verwey-Jonker Instituut. Various issues were covered, including the details of publication for each of the countries’ final reports as well as the final overall comparative study. The composition of the reports was also discussed at length. The aim of the project, to implement the Victim’s Directive, and its principal focus, Victim-Offender Mediation, were highlighted in particular. Further discussion focused around the definition of domestic violence, the difference between intimate terrorism versus situational couple violence, and the individual countries’ methods and tools for interviewing. Finally, there was also a reminder of the timeframe for the various workstreams and planning done for the next meeting in Hannover in February next year.
    • 13 June 2014 The first UK Country Report completed as part of the project was recently published by IARS. The report  contains an analysis of current developments, practices and policies on the use of restorative justice in cases of domestic violence in the UK. This report forms the first stage of research conducted within the framework of the project. The purpose is to offer a foundation of examining good practice, which will be further developed throughout the project.
    • 02 April 2014 In February 2014, the project was officially launched and a Press Release was circulated to the press and government (also click here) On 3rd-4th March 2014, representatives from the organisations involved in this project met in Utrecht, The Netherlands, for the first time to discuss the project and its progress over the next two years. Each representative explained their background in restorative justice and how the project fit within the structures of their country, so as to create a common vocabulary and understanding of the terms involved in the project. The next meeting of the steering group will take place in Helsinki in mid-July 2014, followed by regular meetings over the course of the two year period in the member countries.
    • 15 March 2014 As part of our contribution to the project we have interviewed practitioners in the UK to gather knowledge of best practice and to better understand the various applications of restorative justice in the criminal justice system across the country. We have also compiled a report which looks at the role that restorative justice plays in the criminal justice system, this will be presented to the rest of the project group at the meeting in Helsinki, and it is in the process of being published.
    • February 2014 IARS will be assisting in the production of a practical guide looking at the application of restorative justice in cases of domestic violence and the running and monitoring of small pilot schemes, based on this guide. As part of this, the group will construct a 'model' consisting of criteria, risks and benefits of restorative justice and mediation in cases of domestic violence.

  • Get Involved
    If you are a victim of domestic abuse, whether a woman or a man, a restorative justice practitioner or just generally interested in this programme email the UK Project Lead

  • How it fulfils our Mission
    One of IARS' central beliefs is found within the concept of restorative justice. This project links in with the activities of Restorative Justice in Europe: Safeguarding Victims & Empowering Professionals (RJE), transnational two year project that started on 1st December 2012, and will facilitate the implementation of the Directive 2012/29/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 or as otherwise known "the Victims' Directive". The Directive establishes minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime, replacing Council Framework Decision 2001/220/JHA. The RJE focuses on the implementation of the restorative justice related articles. The findings from this project will be based on evidence-based arguments from our desk-based and field research and will enable us to draft best practice guidance for such cases.

Project Publications

UK Country Report (2014)

First Comparative Report (2015)

Second Comparative Report (2015)

Second Comparative Report Addendum (2015)

Restorative Justice and Domestic Violence: A Practitioner's Guide (2016)


The programme is funded by the EU under the JUST/2013/JPEN/AG/4587 agreement