Overview of Group 2

Criminal justice agencies and services using restorative approaches in their work – Overview

This overview was last updated on 31/01/2021 in respect of ten service profiles.


This overview draws on the individual profiles on this website of ten agencies and services that operate alongside or are part of, the criminal justice system. The ten services do not provide restorative justice services directly but use restorative approaches in their work with offenders or victims. They comprise a diverse group of bodies. A summary of the nature of the services they provide is set out in the summary table for Group 2.

Nature of organisation 

Two of the ten services are State organisations – the Irish Prison Service and Oberstown Children Detention Campus. Three profiles relate to Garda Youth Diversion Projects – one describes the roll-out of restorative approaches in all projects, one relates to a specific project providing data (Slaney) and one relates to four projects provided by Extern (which also uses RP in providing other criminal justice services). Two are services that support former offenders or work with people at risk of offending – Tivoli Training Centre and Treo Port Láirge. One is a charity that provides services to victims of child sexual abuse (One in Four) and another is a charity that provides volunteer-led supports for serious sexual offenders (PACE/CoSA). Finally, the Traveller Mediation Service is an independent mediation service associated with a direct provider of restorative justice services (RJC). Most receive at least partial funding from state sources.

Target clients 

Four services are for young people only – Oberstown Children Detention Centre and the Garda Youth Diversion Projects. Four work with adults only – the Irish Prison Service, One in Four, PACE/CoSA and the Traveller Mediation Service. Two cater for both adults and young persons (Tivoli Training Centre and Treo Port Láirge). Eight provide services to offenders and those at risk of offending, while one provides services to victims (One in Four) and another provides mediation services in relation to community-based conflict (Traveller Mediation Service). 

Geographical coverage

The two State services provide national coverage – the Irish Prison Service and Oberstown Children Detention Campus. Two services are based in Dublin but accept referrals from other parts of the country – One in Four and PACE/CoSA. The Traveller Mediation Service is based in Athlone but likewise accepts referrals from other parts of the country. The Garda Youth Diversion Projects cover most centres of population and their hinterlands (106 projects nationwide). Two services are local – Tivoli Training Centre (Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown and the wider South Dublin/North Wicklow area) and Treo Port Láirge (Waterford). 

Models of restorative justice 

One in Four uses common restorative justice models such as victim-offender mediation and conferences. The Traveller Mediation Service uses a standard mediation model. The other services currently use or plan to use restorative practices (such as restorative conversations and circles) and to adopt restorative approaches generally in their work. 

Activity levels

Comprehensive information on RP activity levels is not available for most services. An indication of the nature and level of activity can be discerned from the following data. In Oberstown Children Detention Centre, 15 young people completed anti-violence RP training in 2018 and another 13 did so in 2019. Extern supported 87 young people in their four Garda Youth Diversion Projects in 2019, while Slaney GYDP estimate that they support 20-25 young people per annum. One in Four facilitated restorative processes for five families in 2016. PACE/CoSA worked with six offenders in 2018. The Traveller Mediation Service had 11 people enrolled in their mediation and conflict training programme in 2019/20. The Tivoli Training Centre worked with 135 clients in 2018 and Treo Port Láirge worked with 83 individuals and 39 families across a range of programmes in 2019. Precise information relevant to RP was not available for other services.

Staffing and training 

No staff are dedicated exclusively to provision of RP services but staff employ restorative approaches in their general work. As regards the Garda Youth Diversion Projects, Extern staff receive three-day restorative conferencing training and seven staff in the Slaney GYDP have trained as Restorative Practitioners (IIRP) and as circle keepers, while three have level 8 academic qualifications and one is a qualified RP trainer. Starting in 2021, bespoke RP training is being rolled out to all Garda Youth Diversion Projects under a national programme in which several youth workers and other persons have been trained as trainers by Ulster University. The Irish Prison Service has committed to including restorative principles in all staff training and RP training has been delivered to staff of the Irish Prison Service College, who are now incorporating this into the training of all new recruits. Introductory RP training was delivered by CDI to all Unit staff in Oberstown Children Detention Centre, while a select group has been trained in facilitation skills and a number of staff are qualified RP trainers. In One in Four, staff members from the clinical and advocacy teams are trained as RJ facilitators (IIRP) while the management team undertook IIRP training in restorative leadership and staff training sessions and seminars were held to establish a restorative organisational ethos. All PACE support workers and other staff received RP training. In the Tivoli Training Centre, the staff team were trained in RP and circles and the Programme Development Manager was trained in conferencing. Staff in the Traveller Mediation Service are accredited mediators with the Mediators Institute of Ireland, and two staff completed level 9 academic courses incorporating restorative practice. In Treo Port Láirge, many staff are accredited RP facilitators and the CEO and other staff are qualified RP trainers; IIRP and CDI provided the training.

Volunteers have little role in the services’ activities, with the exception of PACE/CoSA and Treo Port Láirge. Volunteers in PACE/CoSA receive training in a broad range of topics (including the impact of offending on victims) and Treo volunteers receive RP induction training. 

Stage of intervention 

Three agencies/services operate at the post-conviction stage – the Irish Prison Service, Oberstown Children Detention Service and PACE/CoSA. Two services operate primarily at the post-conviction stage but include interventions at the preventive stage (Tivoli Training Centre and Treo Port Láirge). The Garda Youth Diversion Projects (including the Extern and Slaney projects) are targeted at children engaged in anti-social behaviour or at risk of offending and are preventive in nature, but also receive referrals from Juvenile Liaison Officers when young people have received a caution. One in Four provides services outside the criminal justice system as well as at the pre-conviction and pre-sentence stages. The Traveller Mediation Service deals with conflicts that are outside the criminal justice system, although these may involve offences or be referred by Gardaí.