Restorative approaches aim to get everyone who has been directly affected by an incident together to talk about what has happened. This might be as a result of antisocial behaviour, a crime, a problem with a neighbour or another situation that has caused harm.
At a restorative meeting everyone has their say. They are asked to listen to all the other people involved and agree a way forward together.
helps people who have been harmed to tell the person causing the harm their thoughts and feelings about has happened, and gives them a say in what needs to happen in the future
helps people causing harm to realise how much they are hurting others, supports them to accept responsibility for their behaviour and gives them a say in what they need to do next to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Sorting out problems in this way stops them from escalating. This can make it easier for people to put difficult feelings behind them and get on with their lives.
How restorative meetings work
Restorative approaches work to bring all those involved in an incident together including the wrongdoer and those harmed (both with support from family and professionals if necessary), as well as anyone else involved in the incident.
Most restorative approaches use a trained facilitator who speaks to everyone involved before the meeting to find out what has happened from each person’s point of view.
The facilitator does not take sides, does not offer advice, listens to everyone, lets everyone tell their story and keeps everyone feeling safe. Instead they ask questions such as:
How did you come to be involved?
What were you thinking at the time and how did you feel?
Who has been affected by the incident, and how?
What do you think and feel about the incident now?
What do you think needs to happen to put things right?
What do you think needs to happen to make sure this doesn’t happen again in the future?
Normally people in a meeting make a spoken or written agreement. This spells out what everyone is going to do to put things right and help make the future better.
Everyone has to agree to these actions and usually someone is asked to monitor the agreement in the future. These agreements are normally very effective but, if there is a problem, another meeting can be held or a different way will be found to resolve it.
Do restorative meetings work?
Yes they do. Research shows that:
more than 75 per cent of people who take part in a restorative meeting think it is fairer than the criminal justice system (including victims of crime)
more than 75 per cent of people who take part in a restorative meeting leave feeling satisfied
80-90 per cent of agreements are kept following the meeting.
Do I have to take part in a restorative meeting if it is suggested?
No you don’t. The meeting will only take place if everyone involved in an incident agrees they want to sort things out in this way; the facilitator will find this out when they talk to everyone once a meeting is suggested. If you do not want to be involved in a meeting, then another way will be found to solve the problem. Even just talking to a trained facilitator about what has happened and how it has affected you can help you move on from an incident.
I want to take part but I will be nervous talking in front of other people. Can I have someone with me for support?
Yes. this could be a friend or relative that you trust.
Are these meetings confidential?
Yes they are. Unless something is said in the meeting that means either you or someone else is in danger, or everyone in the meeting agrees to tell someone else about it, what is said in the room stays in the room.
How do I find out more?
The 170 Community Project (020 7732 9716) is able to provide details of a network of restorative practitioners.
Restorative Community Action
170 Community Project
170 New Cross Road
London, SE14 5AA