RJS4C project extended; Northern Irish consultation response published – May update
28th May 2021

May update – RJS4C Project Extended; Northern Irish Consultation Response Published

European RJS4C meeting presents international experiences, extends project to 2024

RJS4C is a European project with 40 Core Members from ten countries (Albania, Belgium, Czech Republic, Estonia, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and Scotland). Since our first European meeting in Maynooth in April 2019, COVID has twice scuppered our plans to gather in Estonia, and we met online in May 2020, and again in May 2021. At the latest meeting, Core Members from around Europe spoke of their ambitious efforts to bring stakeholders together and develop national plans to implement restorative principles and processes in their criminal justice systems. They reported successfully building momentum around this goal, although the pandemic had caused delays in policy processes and other areas. Consequently, we agreed to extend the project from four (2019-2023) to five years (2019-2024) to allow ourselves a longer timeframe to build on these successes.

For you, this will mean that the Stakeholder Group continues until at least January 2024, and you’ll continue to receive updates about our work and opportunities to contribute, as well as links to interesting articles, events and other materials about restorative justice, in our monthly email. If you have any colleagues who might be interested in joining the Stakeholder Group, please forward them this message and ask them to contact me to join.


Developments in the North and South of Ireland

In 2020, the Northern Irish Department of Justice conducted a consultation on the development of a restorative justice strategy for adult offending. Last week, they published the summary of consultation responses. Their aim was to ‘consider the development of a strategic approach to the utilisation of restorative practices at all stages of the adult criminal justice system’ (p.4). We look forward to further collaboration with colleagues from the North on the development of restorative justice in both jurisdictions.                             

You may also be interested in the forthcoming webinar (June 10th), organised by the National College of Ireland, on restorative community work in NEIC Dublin. The speakers include RJS4C Core Member Tim Chapman and Paschal Donohoe TD, Minister for Finance.

Request for information: if you use restorative practices in the youth work context, have you sought to engage parents in that work? If so, what have you done and how successful has it been? If you have relevant experience or knowledge, please contact James Bowes on james.bowes@belvedereyouthclub.ie.

Finally, the Courts Service of Ireland has recently published its Innovation Strategy to 2023if any of our colleagues in the Courts Service or Judiciary are interested in exploring the potential for restorative justice and restorative practices in the context of court innovation, please let us know.


New United Nations ‘Common Position on Incarceration’

For the first time, the United Nations has published a common position on incarceration. This paper states, under a section on Shifting Policies Towards Prevention and Alternatives: ‘The focus of criminal justice responses should be shifted from imposing punishment and isolation to investing in longer-term strategies for crime prevention, rehabilitation, restorative justice and social reintegration, with an emphasis on the most vulnerable. This shift also requires a movement towards depenalization and decriminalization in appropriate cases, in line with international norms and standards’ (p.9).


Further events and reading

      • Why Me? in the UK are organising a webinar (June 8th) on restorative justice and parole.
      • Why Me? also published a new (very short) report on the prevalence of RJ in England and Wales. They will launch this at a webinar on June 16th.
      • The 5th annual meeting of the Restorative Network in Forensic Mental Health will take place online – see the link for details.
      • A blogpost by Dr. Lindsey Pointer assesses the appropriateness of restorative justice in very low-level cases and in cases with complicated causes.
      • Those of you interested in probation will like this recently published study on the use of RJ in probation in Wales (summary here, full report here).
      • Those of you interested in prisons will like this article by Charlotte Calkin exploring the implementation of restorative practices in three UK prisons.
      • Those of you interested in policing will like this podcast with two Cambridge University professors on the use of restorative justice by the police.
      • This BBC article describes the intended move to a ‘secure school’ model of youth detention in England. This is also described in the recent UK Government white paper on sentencing, which notes (p.85) that restorative approaches will form part of a new conflict resolution strategy in youth detention.