Facing Forward recognises that Restorative Practices have the potential to transform human relationships, our communities and Irish society. We believe that the following key considerations should represent a
significant contribution towards this ideal.
- Restorative Justice for Serious Crime: Internationally, research has shown that 98% of restorative justice casework is diversionary and deals with minor crime, similar to the current restorative justice work in this jurisdiction. This work has a focus on diverting the offender from the criminal justice system to prevent recidivism and maintain community safety. It can involve the victims of crime, but usually to a lesser extent.However, Facing Forward proposes to extend restorative work to respond to the unmet needs of those harmed by serious crime. Because of the sensitivity of this work, the process is guided by the needs and the safety of the survivor in order to prevent re-victimisation. While international protocols, including the EU Directive on Victims, require that this work is survivor-initiated, it also allows the offender to assume responsibility for the harm they have done, and to find ways to move on with their lives and desist from future crime.
- The Role of Non-Governmental Organisations in restorative work: The current projects funded by the Probation Service in lesser crime are run by NGOs. Internationally, the work with those impacted by serious crime has a strong tradition of NGO involvement. The strengths of this are perceived independence and impartiality from both the survivor and the offender perspective, connection to local communities, volunteer involvement, and public acceptance and engagement. Facing Forward has already provided training for members of the Irish Prison Service and Probation Service, together with NGO staff, with a view to fostering inter-agency collaboration.
- A Wider Restorative Approach: Restorative justice work has a purpose beyond the immediate objectives of the Criminal Justice System. Where restorative practices internationally are embedded within criminal justice systems, they are one part of a wider restorative approach in communities, schools and throughout society. Facing Forward recognises the ripple effect of crime at all levels of the community, and is working to support a more inclusive restorative approach. We are networking with groups all over the island of Ireland who are working to develop restorative practices for the benefit of local communities.