What is Restorative Practice?
What is a restorative practitioner?
A restorative practitioner is someone who is committed to being restorative in all that they do. That means that they will use restorative approaches to build relationships and prevent conflict, and to deal with conflict in a healthy manner when it occurs. Being an RP Practitioner means having values that include respect for others, empathy, fairness, personal accountability and honesty. RP Practitioners take a collaborative approach to problem-solving and actively strive to be solution-focused in their lives and work.
Anyone can be restorative, and we can be restorative in any context or setting, and at any level of conflict, from minor disagreements or tensions, to serious harm and hurt.
Does it just deal with conflict?
No. It can also be used to bring communities together to tackle a broad range of topics and to give them and a unified voice to address problems, such as lack of services, community events and safer community initiatives.
Why is RP different to what is already happening?
The restorative approach gives everyone in the group an equal voice. Everyone has an opportunity to have their say and to be heard. Being restorative means we stop looking for someone to blame and start looking at how to repair the relationship.
What are the benefits of restorative practices?
At its most basic, restorative practices improve the quality of relationships we have. Using this approach can both avoid and minimise conflict, and help us to manage it better when it does arise.
More specifically, restorative practices have been found to reduce school suspensions and expulsions, improve staff sickness rates, reduce tensions in the work place, and give people greater confidence in managing difficult situations. In more serious circumstances, restorative practices has been effective in helping those who have experienced crime to heal and it can be used as an alternative to, or alongside, more traditional justice responses.
People who have participated in restorative practice training and are using it as a way of working report that their work is easier, more enjoyable and more effective. Parents report better relationships with their children, residents report better relationships with their neighbours, and young people report increased confidence and better relationships with their teachers, their families, their friends and their peers.
What do I need to do to use restorative practices?
Many people use restorative approaches in their work already without naming them that. In order to use restorative practices consistently, it is helpful to attend an introductory training course and then consider what further training is most relevant. The restorative practices tools and approaches can be easily incorporated into existing practice with the most common change being a shift from asking “why?” to asking “what happened?” whenever difficulties arise. If you are trying to work out whether restorative practices has an application in the area where you work, it could also be helpful to see the useful links section of this website.
What is the difference between restorative practice and restorative justice?
Restorative approaches can be used at any point across the range of supports, from prevention and early intervention, right through to victim-offender mediation and serious offences. Restorative Justice is a process whereby parties affected by an offence or wrongdoing resolve collectively how to deal with the aftermath of the offence and its implications for the future. Restorative justice can be an alternative to, or used in conjunction with, other criminal justice responses.
How can restorative justice help someone who has been a victim of crime?
Restorative Justice is an inclusive way of dealing with harm caused by a crime. It seeks to bring together those most affected to discuss what has happened, acknowledging that they are the best placed to find ways of repairing the harm. Participants are given a place to share their story in a facilitated, safe and structured way. Many victims of crime report that they benefited from telling the offender how the offence impacted on them, putting questions directly to the offender and having a say in what should happen next, perhaps receiving an apology and reparation. The process is entirely voluntary and interaction with an offender can be direct or indirect. It is the role of the facilitator to help victims make an informed choice whether to participate or not, by explaining the process and what will happen. Victims can bring one or more persons along for support and they can opt out at anytime. Victims may be approached by police, the probation service or a recognised community project to engage in a restorative justice meeting and may themselves seek a meeting through the criminal justice service, although it is not always possible to facilitate such requests.[wpv-autop]