Over the past few years North East Lincolnshire has been active in using Restorative Justice / Restorative Practices to tackle crime and justice in a fresh way.
Marcus Czarnecki is the Restorative Justice Champion for North East Lincolnshire and has led on using and introducting Restorative Practices across the borough.
With a number of years of experience in this field, Restorative Justice is clearly a powerful alternative approach.
North East Lincolnshire is moving towards the concept of being a Restorative Borough.
The central idea that Restorative Practice underpins a seamless approach to relationships – discipline, punishment, behaviour management, boundary setting and conflict – to ensure that people are happier in 15 years time. Less crime, higher emotional intelligence, higher taking of responsibility for the self naturally lending itself to lower recidivism and fewer entrants into the Criminal Justice System.
The ideals of this are worth pursuing and we have been working on these practices for the past few years.
So what is Restorative Justice?
The fundamental unifying hypothesis of restorative practices is disarmingly simple: that human beings are happier, more cooperative and productive, and more likely to make positive changes in their behaviour when those in positions of authority do things with them, rather than to them or for them. This hypothesis maintains that the punitive and authoritarian to mode and the permissive and paternalistic for mode are not as effective as the restorative, participatory, engaging with mode. If this restorative hypothesis is valid, then it has significant implications for many disciplines.
Restorative practices is the science of building social capital and achieving social discipline through participatory learning and decision-making
In North East Lincolnshire we are trying to build a restorative borough – (with an eye to communities, relationships and safety in the future) but which also touches on the victims agenda of the now. In becoming a restorative borough we are working with conflict, crime, behaviour, justice, punishment and discipline in all areas of social life – literally from the cradle to the grave.
The benefits of restorative justice to victims of all crimes is profound and well documented and has been explored through several pilots.
However, it is more about the values with which human beings are treated by systems rather than the way justice is done that will really change things.
For the harm (that is a true by-product of crime) to be genuinely repaired requires real justice done in an authentic, inclusive and non symbolic way.
In criminal justice it is the State that sees itself as the Victim. Through due process the human victim is silenced and rendered obsolete.
Criminal Justice asks
- What Law was Broken?
- Who did it?
- What shall we do to them?
Restorative Justice asks a different set of questions
- Who has been harmed?
- Harm – creates Needs – whose needs are these?
- Whose responsibility is it to repair those needs?
When we ask these questions – the victim is involved in the process as an included and essential stakeholder.
Criminal Justice is about process and rules – Restorative Justice is about people.
The great value of the restorative justice approach is the healing, the humanising and value creation of human relationships involved in a crime setting.
Another element of restorative justice is Shame. Criminal Justice stigmatises people and brands them. It is like a photo is taken of a person when they do wrong and it is so powerful and so all encompassing that its message is…….at (e.g.) 28 minutes past 6 on the 15th of December 2010 YOU did this act – and this act is who you really are and will define your existence for the remainder of your life.
This is how shame is managed in criminal justice.
In restorative justice shame is managed as a re-integrative quality. It is the deed not the doer that is examined and scrutinised.
Marcus has prepared a paper that explains Restorative Practices in much more detail.
Work on using Restorative Practices locally in North East Lincolnshire has resulted in…
Education – engagement and involvement with…
2 Primary schools
2 Further and Higher
Specified Activity for Magistrates
Probation Restorative Leadership
Youth Offending – reorienting from reparation to restoration.
Post release offender management and reintegration
Secured funding for community roll out
Film produced to ensure the correct message commissions
Increasing use of restorative practice in Victims Panels
Troubled Families Family group Conferencing
Work with Integrated Youth Services
Four local organisations seeking to become fully restorative in the way they deal with staff and clients.
HR depts using restorative justice for interpersonal dispute resolution and conflict transformation
Large scale Work Place conflicts successfully restored.
To find out more about Restorative Justice please get in touch with:
Marcus Czarnecki, Restorative Practices Champion for North East Lincolnshire
Other useful websites