Restorative Justice in the Community (RJC)

A.     Service overview and contact details 

Focus of restorative justice activities

Restorative Justice in the Community (formerly Nenagh Community Reparation Project) is a restorative justice project supported and funded by the Probation Service. It currently works with communities across Tipperary, Laois and Offaly. Its restorative justice activities comprise mainly Victim-Offender Mediation, RJ Conferencing and a Reparation Programme. It also partners with and supports the work of the Traveller Mediation Service.

Year of commencement 

1999

Service details

Restorative Justice in the Community (RJC)

Annbrook Business Centre, Cleary’s Garage

Limerick Road

Nenagh

Co. Tipperary

Website:  http://rjc.ie/

Email:  info@rjc.ie 

Tel:  067 41565 

Head of service

Emily Sheary Manager

emily@rjc.ie

Tel: 083 4172236

Staffing 

3 RJC Caseworkers 

RJC Administrator

Manager

Staff training in restorative justice 

Caseworkers are trained restorative justice facilitators and have experience working in youth justice, addiction, mental health and homelessness services. Further relevant qualifications of staff include an MA in Restorative Justice, a Certificate in Restorative Practice and mediation accreditation.  

Involvement of volunteers 

RJC recruits, trains and maintains a panel of community volunteers in each of the communities it works in. Seven panels of community volunteers within counties Tipperary, Laois and Offaly, including approximately 40 active volunteers, support its work. Volunteers play an important role in the restorative process, particularly with regard to offences without an identifiable victim, or in circumstances where the community itself is the victim, such as public order offences, drug-related offences and damage to public property. Community volunteers bring a plurality of perspectives to the table and can empathise and establish a rapport with participants in a way that highlights their interconnectedness to the community. Their involvement highlights the concept that crime harms a community and that the community itself should play a part in resolving the conflict.

Volunteer training in restorative justice

Training to become a reparation panel representative includes sitting in on a number of panel discussions as an ‘observer only’, listening to dialogue and watching how the process unfolds from initial introductions to contract formation. Lay panellists are also required to attend training sessions on restorative practice and reparation panel practice specifically. Training may cover, for example, the basic principles and history of restorative justice concepts and role-plays of mock reparation panels.

Main source(s) of funding

The Probation Service 

Annual budget 

€163,000 (2020)

Nature of funding 

Annual

Organisational status

Registered charity and a Company limited by Guarantee. 

Target client group

RJC works with adults of all ages, but the majority of referrals tend to be those aged 18-25.

Nature of offences

RJC deals with a broad range of offences including, but not limited to, assault, theft and related offences, burglary, damage to property, public order and drug related offences.

Source of cases

Referrals are solely court-led and come from local District Courts across Tipperary, Offaly and Laois.  

Geographic area of activity

RJC currently works with communities across Tipperary, Laois and Offaly.  

B.     Nature of RJ service

Model(s) of RJ services provided

  1. Victim-Offender Mediation   
  2. RJ Conferences
  3. Reparation Programme
  4. Other – Facilitating RJ discussions/training in local schools and education centres 

Main process elements and short description of each model that the service provides 

General

  • Cases are referred to RJC by a Judge at the pre-sentence stage after guilt is established. Once the matter is referred by the Court, the case is adjourned to allow time for the restorative process. The offender is asked to attend an initial meeting to discuss the offence and their suitability for participation. If the offence has a direct victim, contact is established to invite their participation to whatever extent they wish. If the victim and the offender wish to work towards a face-to-face restorative encounter and if it is safe to do so, RJC supports and prepares the parties towards this outcome. On completion of the process, RJC furnishes report to the Court, which takes the efforts of the offender into account when finalising the case.

Victim-Offender Mediation

  • RJC invites those who have been affected by crime to participate in the restorative process on a voluntary basis, to whatever extent they wish. This may include Victim-Offender Mediation where the victim and offender meet, together with an RJC representative as facilitator, to discuss the offence, ask questions and perhaps to seek reparation. Supporters are not normally involved unless sought by the parties.

Restorative Conferencing

  • RJC offers a Restorative Conferencing option involving a victim, offender and supporters of both who meet together with an RJC facilitator to discuss the offence and its impact.

Reparation Panel Meeting  

  • If the victim does not wish to meet the offender in person or does not wish to engage with RJC to any extent, or when the crime does not have a direct victim, the reparation panel is the RJ model used. The reparation panel is a group of people who come together with the offender to discuss the offence, its impact and how to repair the harm caused. The offender, a member of the Gardaí, a representative of RJC and one or two trained community volunteers attend this meeting. The offender is asked to discuss the offence, those affected and to agree the steps they will take to make amends for the harm caused. If the offence has a direct victim who has engaged with RJC and is satisfied for the reparation panel meeting to proceed, their viewpoint is represented at the meeting and forms a key part of the reparative agreement reached. This agreement is called the Contract of Reparation. Every contract is different and involves different tasks, but some examples include:
  • meeting with and apologising to the person/people affected by the offence;
  • paying the cost of repairing any damage caused;
  • carrying out voluntary work in the community;
  • writing about the offence, attitude and learning; and,
  • attending for drug or alcohol education and/or counselling.

On the next Court date, if the Judge is satisfied with the Contract, the case is further adjourned to allow for contract completion. If successfully completed, the Judge takes into account the efforts to make amends to the victim and/or community when finalising the matter in Court.

RJC supports the offender in completing their Contract and maintains contact with the victim, keeping them informed of progress and outcomes if they wish. 

Number and nature of cases

Number of cases 2017 2018 2019
Number of cases referred  119 120 200
Number of cases successfully completed 100 97 138* 
Number of cases incomplete 19 23 44

*A further 18 ongoing cases, delayed due to Covid-19, are expected to be successfully completed.

Number of cases incomplete 2017 2018 2019
Unsuitable  6 4 6
Failed to engage 8 9 18
Commenced engagement but failed to complete  5 10 20
Total incomplete 19 23 44

Reasons for incompletion vary. Included in the figures above are those who were considered unsuitable following their initial assessment appointment. Unsuitability is assessed based on an offender’s capacity to engage meaningfully with the restorative process, their willingness to accept responsibility and make amends, and their attitude to the victim and reparation. Furthermore, following a discussion on what is involved in the restorative process, an offender may decide that they would prefer not to engage with the service and have the matter return to Court.

Incompletion also includes those who were referred, but who never engaged with the service or responded to correspondence. Also included are those who were referred and assessed as suitable to proceed who then agreed a Contract of Reparation but failed to complete it and the matter was returned to the Court as incomplete.

Victim engagement 2017 2018 2019
Number of cases with direct victim participation 5 1 3
Number of cases with indirect victim participation 27 17 33
Total 32 18 36

Direct victim participation relates to cases where victims and offenders took part in a face-to-face restorative encounter. Indirect victim participation relates to cases where the victim and offender did not meet each other but engaged with the restorative justice service and participated in meetings or contact to discuss the impact of the offence and to agree potential reparation, such as compensation and/or an apology.

Community engagement 2017 2018 2019
Cases with volunteer panel members 100 106 173

These figures relate to cases where a reparation panel was convened. The panels are comprised of trained community volunteers, a Garda representative, the offender and an RJC caseworker.  

Case profiles  

Offence 2017 2018 2019
Public Order Offences 40 33 54
Drug Related Offences 36 55 68
Assault 15 13 22
Criminal Damage 4 4 10
Theft/Possession of stolen goods 14 5 23
Trespass 1 0 6
Burglary 0 0 1
Harassment 2 2 1
Obstruction 1 1 0
Road Traffic  4 3 4
Firearms and Offensive Weapons Act 1 2 5
Environmental, illegal dumping, animal neglect  1 2 6
Total 119 120 200

 

Offender age  2017 2018 2019
18-21 36 39 69
22-25 28 36 40
26-29 14 16 30
30+ 41 29 61
Total 119 120 200

 

Offender gender  2017 2018 2019
Male 105 101 166
Female 14 19 34
Total 119 120 200

Outcomes 

For those who progress through the restorative process and agree a Contract of Reparation, RJC has seen an average 89 percent completion rate across the past three years. For the vast majority of offender referrals, completion of a Contract of Reparation with RJC results in no further sanction imposed by the Court and dismissal of the matter by strike out or under the Probation Act (DPOA). Other Court outcomes upon successful completion may include a Peace Bond, a fine, a Poor Box donation or a Suspended Sentence. Feedback gathered from offender participants emphasizes the value placed on the opportunity to apologise, to make amends, to seek support and the value placed on the fairness of the process. 

Victim specific outcomes agreed in Contracts of Reparation include apology, compensation and victim specific reparation work as well as less tangible outcomes such as the opportunity to ask questions, receive acknowledgement etc. The feedback gathered from those victims who engage is positive with victims highlighting the opportunity for healing, feeling less anger, feeling less fearful and the chance for acknowledgement of the harm that has been caused.

C.     Sources of further information 

Websites:

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