Restorative justice, victims and the police

Authored by: Carolyn Hoyle

Handbook of Policing

Print publication date:  August  2008
Online publication date:  August  2012

Print ISBN: 9781843925002
eBook ISBN: 9780203118238
Adobe ISBN: 9781136308529


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This chapter explores the ways in which the police in the UK use the principles of restorative justice (henceforth RJ) in their encounters with victims and offenders, adult and juvenile. It considers attempts to transform police cautioning practices into ‘restorative cautioning’, and the more recent introduction of restorative measures in the youth justice system, in schools, and ‘conditional cautions’ for adults. It compares the dialogic nature of these initiatives with the unidirectional nature of other schemes that share some of the goals of RJ, such as victim impact statements and information and support services to victims. Drawing on empirical research conducted by my colleagues and myself from the mid-1990s through to the early 2000s, 1 and on interviews with both Thames police officers and staff from the Oxfordshire Youth Offending Service, 2 it argues that such restorative measures have, in certain times and places, brought the police into a new set of relations with victims. Having considered these changed relations, and the potential of RJ to enhance victims’ experiences of the criminal justice system, this chapter argues that there are practical and philosophical objections to the police involvement in RJ, and that these, at least in part, explain why there seems to be less restorative activity in UK policing in 2008 than there was at the start of the twenty-first century. It concludes by suggesting that if restorative processes are to become securely entrenched within the criminal justice system, the way forward must lie with the creation of a specialist and highly trained RJ service.

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