A. Service overview and contact details
Focus of restorative justice activities
RJS is an independent restorative justice agency managed by a partnership of stakeholders in the criminal justice system, including community representatives, the Probation Service (funder), the Crime Victims Helpline and the Garda Síochána. It provides restorative justice programmes for people who have been affected by crime: victims, offenders, families and communities. Its principal activities are victim-offender mediation, a reparation programme and a restorative road safety pilot programme. In the main, casework is referred from the courts, pre-sanction (in between conviction and sentencing). RJS also accepts referrals from agencies and self-referrals. Its catchment area is Dublin, Kildare, Meath and Wicklow.
Year of commencement
Restorative Justice Services (RJS)
Marshalsea Court, Merchant’s Quay, Dublin 8
Tel: 01 672 4446
Head of service
Peter Keeley, Manager
- Board of Directors
- Caseworkers (4)
- Administrator (1)
- Administrative Assistant (1, part-time)
Staff training in restorative justice
Full-time Caseworkers undertake competency-based generic mediation training, provided by an external provider. RJS also provides an Introductory Training Programme for all personnel associated with the delivery of the Reparation Programme (i.e. Chairs, Case Workers, Probation Officers and members of the Garda Síochána). The 25-hour programme covers relevant theory and practice, incorporating written work, group work and roleplays. Over 100 participants completed the programme up to February 2020. Further development of staff is ensured via shadowing, practice support and supervision. More recently, RJS has provided Trauma and Attachment Training to all RJS personnel and partner agency representatives.
A Panel of 8–10 community volunteers assist with the chairing of Reparation Panel meetings. Crime Victims Helpline volunteers input into the restorative process by meeting with certain offenders to raise their awareness and understanding of how their offending behaviour can affect victims, families and communities.
Volunteer training in restorative justice
The community volunteers meet strict criteria in terms of personal and professional background and experience. Almost all come with experience in mediation, facilitation, negotiation or arbitration. All volunteers undertake the above 25-hour Introductory Training Programme and support is provided on an ongoing basis.
Source(s) of funding
The Probation Service
The core annual budget is approximately €369,000. An additional €40,000 was provided by the Probation Service in 2021 for the appointment of an additional Caseworker, bringing the full-time complement of Caseworkers to four.
Nature of funding
Funding application submitted on an annual basis.
Registered charity, company limited by guarantee.
Target client group
Source of cases
Referrals for the Reparation Programme or Victim-Offender Mediation mainly come from District Courts in Dublin, but also include referrals from courts in Kildare, Meath and Wicklow. A small number of referrals also come from the Circuit Courts. Referrals are normally at the pre-sentence stage.
Referrals for the pilot Restorative Road Safety Programme mainly come from District Courts and Probation Assessment Teams in Dublin. A small number come from the Circuit Courts as well.
RJS also accept referrals, usually in post-sanction contexts, from the Garda Síochána, Probation Service and third parties and self-referrals.
Nature of offences
Offences referred by the Courts include public order, sale and supply of drugs, theft, fraud, assault, larceny, armed robbery, intimidation and dangerous weapons. These matters are dealt with through the Reparation Programme and/or Victim-Offender Mediation.
Offences referred to the Restorative Road Safety Programme (RRSP) include dangerous driving, careless driving, leaving the scene of an accident, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and driving while license is suspended, as well as a range of administrative type offences such as driving without insurance, tax or NCT.
In the past, offences referred at the post-sentence stage tend to be more serious and have included manslaughter (by dangerous driving), manslaughter, historical sexual abuse, rape and entrenched conflict.
Geographic area of activity
While the majority of referrals come from Dublin, referrals are also received from the courts in Kildare, Meath and Wicklow.
Source of Referrals 2019, 2020
|Reparation Programme||Restorative Road Safety Programme|
|Source||Number of cases||Source||Number of cases|
|Courts of Criminal Justice (CCJ)||208||63||CCJ||29||5|
|Tallaght DC||49||41||Tallaght DC||26||9|
|Blanchardstown DC||18||8||Blanchardstown DC||14|
|Circuit Court||16||9||Probation Assessment Team (PAT) Haymarket||11||1|
|Bray DC||11||4||PAT Blanchardstown||5||2|
|Dun Laoghaire DC||4||7||Dun Laoghaire DC||5||4|
|Balbriggan DC||3||2||Bray DC||4||1|
|Probation Service||2||4||Swords DC||3||–|
|Other (1 each)||8||2||PAT Bray||3||2|
|DC Appeals||–||6||PAT Dun Laoghaire||3||–|
|Swords||–||2||District Court Appeals||3||2|
|Wicklow||–||2||Court 55 (Children)||3||–|
|Other (1 each)||3||1|
B. Nature of RJ service
Model(s) of RJ services provided
- Victim-Offender Mediation
- Reparation Programme
- Restorative Road Safety Pilot Programme
Main process elements and short description of each model that the service provides
- Provides a safe, non-threatening forum for victims to communicate directly or indirectly with an offender. The model is particularly designed to meet the needs or concerns of the victim, while also increasing the offender’s awareness of the impact of their behaviour on the victim.
- The Court refers the case to RJS at the pre-sanction stage. The offender must have entered a plea of guilty or accept a finding of guilt. Victim-Offender Mediation can also be explored and arranged as part of the Reparation Programme when there is an identifiable victim.
- Separate contacts and meetings are held with the victim and offender to discuss their interest, concerns, rationale and motivation. If the appropriate conditions exist and both parties are agreeable, a mediated communication can take place. This can take place using verbal or written communications through RJS or a direct meeting can be arranged between the victim and offender, facilitated by RJS Caseworkers.
- At the next Court date, a report is provided by RJS outlining the main points of any contacts, discussions, meetings or agreed outcome with the victim and/or any agreed actions arising from the mediation. The Court takes the report into account in making its decision.
- The Court refers the case to RJS at the pre-sentence stage. The offender must have entered a plea of guilty or accept a finding of guilt and be willing to gain an understanding of the consequences of the offending behaviour through dialogue with a Reparation Panel. The offender must also be open to repairing harm, including possibly meeting with victims.
- The offender is invited to meet with a Caseworker and attend a Reparation Panel meeting. The Reparation Panel comprises a community representative as chair, a Probation Officer and a Garda member. The offender is accompanied by their Caseworker. All the parties present discuss the offence and its impacts and agree actions that could be undertaken to try to repair the harm and prevent a recurrence. The actions are written up in a Reparation Contract. In offences where there is an identifiable victim, the first item on the contract is to explore the possibility of a Victim-Offender Mediation process.
- On completion of the Reparation Contract, a second Reparation Panel meeting reviews its implementation and the learning experience of the offender. A report including the Reparation Contract and evidence of actions taken (e.g. letter of apology, record of any meetings attended, confirmation of any charitable donation, written reflective work) is then submitted to the Court. The Court takes the report into account in making its decision.
Restorative Road Safety Pilot Programme
- Offenders are referred directly by the Court or by the Probation Service when preparing a Pre-Sanction Report. On receipt of a referral, a Caseworker is assigned and explains the programme and the commitments required.
- In what might be called ‘administrative offences’ (i.e. no tax/insurance/licence), the offender meets with the Caseworker and a volunteer community representative (a Reparation Programme Chair) to discuss the offence and agree a reparation contract. In more serious offences, the offender meets with the full Reparation Panel. Contract actions can include attendance at a facilitated group discussion with other clients, attendance at a road safety presentation and discussion facilitated by a member of the Garda Traffic Corp, and meetings with representatives of Headway and the National Rehabilitation Centre. Once all elements of the contract have been completed, the offender meets with the community representative again to review the contract implementation and the learning experience of the offender. A report is then provided to the referring agency.
Number and nature of cases
|Victim Offender Mediation/Reparation||Restorative Road Safety Programme|
|Victim Offender Mediation/Reparation||Restorative Road Safety Programme|
|Opted out/ unsuitable||6||6||0||4||0||1||2||0|
Cases with direct victims
|Total cases with direct victim||143||132|
|Letter of apology||44||67|
|Meeting with Crime Victims Helpline||46||38|
|Meeting with Dublin Town||14||11|
Note that cases may involve more than one action. 2020 and 2019 data not available.
All completed Reparation Programme and Restorative Road Safety Programme meetings involved community representatives. The Victim-Offender Mediation Programme does not involve community participation. RJS also benefits from occasional work of an administrative nature from volunteers. Typically, there are 8-10 community volunteers active within the service. Input is also provided to RJS programmes by a diverse range of community, voluntary and statutory agencies.
Offence Breakdown – Victim Offender Mediation/Reparation Programme
|Possession of drugs||53||117||68||20|
|Theft and fraud||63||77||57||44|
|Possession of drugs for sale and supply||25||44||39||22|
|Assault Section 2||10||25||23||12|
|Assault Section 3||7||23||23||32|
|Possession of weapon||10||19||4||2|
Referrals can involve more than one offence so total may exceed number of cases referred.
Offence Breakdown – Restorative Road Safety Programme
|Failure to produce||14||35||38||36|
|Failure to comply||1||6||–||–|
|Unaccompanied provisional driver||1||2||5||2|
|Using false instrument||0||3||–||–|
|Giving false name||0||2||2||2|
|Driving without due consideration||0||2||–||–|
Offender gender and age breakdown
Offender Gender – Victim Offender Mediation/Reparation Programme
Offender Gender – Restorative Road Safety Programme
Offender Age – Victim Offender Mediation/Reparation Programme
|18 – 20||33||60||46||37|
|21 – 23||40||60||47||34|
|24 – 26||13||47||27||27|
|27 – 29||18||32||31||22|
|30 – 32||5||23||19||17|
|33 – 35||9||22||15||10|
Offender Age – Restorative Road Safety Programme
|18 – 20||4||22||29||11|
|21 – 23||3||12||18||14|
|24 – 26||3||9||16||12|
|27 – 29||5||13||15||8|
|30 – 32||2||12||14||14|
|33 – 35||1||9||12||4|
Court outcomes are set out below, along with totals of compensation paid and charitable donations made. It is not possible to indicate the number of agreements that are completed fully in every respect. Feedback is sought from clients, but the number of respondents is too small to provide useful information.
Outcomes – Victim-Offender Mediation/Reparation Programme
|Disposal under the Probation of Offenders Act||34||63||60||45|
|Non-appearance warrant issued||17||26||16||18|
|Community Service Order||4||3||7||3|
|Peace Bond and compensation||0||0||2||0|
|Peace/Probation Bond and suspended sentence||0||2||1||0|
|Compensation and Charitable Donations|
Court outcomes may include more than one type of sanction (e.g. Probation Bond and fine).
Outcomes – Restorative Road Safety Programme
|Fine and disqualification||3||21||21||15|
|Non-appearance warrant issued||2||7||18||5|
|Community Service Order||1||6||8||5|
|Suspended sentence/Part suspended sentence||0||1||9||7|
|Suspended sentence and disqualification||0||3||3||0|
|Suspended sentence and Probation Bond||0||2||0||0|
|Suspended sentence and fine||0||2||0||0|
|Disposal under the Probation of Offenders Act||0||2||3||4|
|Community Service Order, fine and disqualification||0||0||3||0|
|Community Service Order and disqualification||1||3||0||0|
|Compensation and Charitable Donations|
Court outcomes may include more than one type of sanction.
C. Sources of further information
Website: Restorative Justice Services
Strategic Plan: Strategic Plan 2020-22
Academic Article: McStravick, D. (2018). ‘Adult Reparation Panels’, International Journal of Restorative Justice.