Restorative Justice Services (RJS)

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. RJS also accepts referrals from agencies and self-referrals. Its catchment area is Dublin, Kildare, Meath and Wicklow. 

Year of commencement 

1999

Service details

Restorative Justice Services (RJS)

Marshalsea Court 

Merchant’s Quay 

Dublin 8

Website: https://rjs.ie/ 

Email: office@rjs.ie

Tel: 01 672 4446

Head of service

Peter Keeley

Manager 

Email: peter.keeley@rjs.ie

Staffing 

  • Board of Directors 
  • Manager 
  • Caseworkers (3)*, Rota Caseworker (1)
  • Administrator (1)
  • Administrative Assistant (1, part-time)

* An additional caseworker post was approved towards the end of 2020 and recruitment was under way at the time of writing (November). 

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 75 participants completed the programme up to February 2020. Further development is ensured via shadowing, practice support and supervision.   

Volunteers 

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 individual 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 

Annual budget 

The core annual budget is approximately €369,000. 

Nature of funding

Funding application submitted on an annual basis.

Organisational status 

Registered charity, company limited by guarantee.

Target client group

Adults

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 pilot RJS Restorative Road Safety Programme (RRSP) include no insurance, no licence, failure to produce, dangerous driving, driving under the influence of alcohol or substances and leaving the scene of an accident.

Past offences at 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

Reparation Programme Restorative Road Safety Pilot Programme
Source  Number of cases Source  Number of cases
Courts of Criminal Justice (CCJ) 208 CCJ 29
Tallaght DC 49 Tallaght DC 26
Blanchardstown DC 18 Blanchardstown DC 14
Circuit Court 16 Probation Assessment Team (PAT) Haymarket 11
Bray DC 11 PAT Blanchardstown 5
Dun Laoghaire DC 4 Dun Laoghaire DC 5
Balbriggan DC 3 Bray DC  4
Probation Service  2 Swords DC 3
Other (1 each) 8 PAT Bray 3
PAT Dun Laoghaire 3
District Court Appeals 3
Court 55 (Children) 3
PAT Tallaght 2
Other (Probation – 1 each) 3
Total 319 Total 114

 

B.     Nature of RJ service

Model(s) of RJ services provided

  1. Victim-Offender Mediation
  2. Reparation Programme
  3. Restorative Road Safety Pilot Programme

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

Victim-Offender Mediation

  • 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. 

Reparation Programme

  • 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

Referrals 

Victim Offender Mediation/Reparation Restorative Road Safety Pilot Programme
2019 2018 2017 2019 2018 2017
Referrals 319 236 194 114 131 87

Cases completed

Victim Offender Mediation/Reparation Restorative Road Safety Pilot Programme
2019 2018 2017 2019 2018 2017
Completed 191 157 119 78 76 55
Incomplete 68 46 42 19 37 22
Still active 45 33 29 16 16 10
Opted out/ unsuitable  6 0 4 1 2 0

Returned/

Assessment

9 0 0 0 0 0
Total 319 236 194 114 131 87

Cases with direct victim

Victim-Offender Mediation/Reparation 2018 2017
Total cases with direct victim 143 132
Direct mediation 27 22
Indirect mediation 16 12
Letter of apology 44 67
Meeting with Crime Victims Helpline 46 38
Meeting with Dublin Town  14 11
Compensation  9 10

Note that cases may involve more than one action        2019 data not available

Community participation 

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 

Offences Referred 2019 2018 2017
Possession of drugs 117 68 20
Public order 84 46 34
Theft and fraud 77 57 44
Possession of drugs for sale and supply 44 39 22
Assault Section 2 25 23 12
Criminal damage 25 17 14
Assault Section 3 23 23 32
Possession of weapon 19 4 2
Road traffic 15 3 1
Violent disorder 3 9 0
Trespassing 2 3 1
Other  2 2 13
Total 436 294 194

      Referrals can involve more than one offence so total may exceed number of cases referred

Offence Breakdown – Restorative Road Safety Programme 

Offences Referred 2019 2018 2017
No insurance  73 104 68
No licence  60 82 49
Failure to produce 35 38 36
Dangerous driving 20 14 12
No NCT 14 13 13
Careless driving 7 6 7
No tax 6 5 8
Drink driving 6 5 5
Failure to comply 6
Disqualified driver 3 6 5
Unaccompanied provisional driver 2 5 2
Speeding  4
Using false instrument 3
Giving false name 2 2 2
Theft 2
Driving without due consideration 2
Other 1 18 9
Total 246 297 210

Offender Gender – Victim Offender Mediation/Reparation Programme 

Gender 2019 2018 2017
Male 261 201 151
Female 58 35 43
Total 319 236 194

Offender Gender – Restorative Road Safety Programme

Gender 2019 2018 2017
Male 96 114 72
Female 18 17 15
Total 114 131 87

Offender Age – Victim Offender Mediation/Reparation Programme

Age 2019 2018 2017
18 – 20 60 46 37
21 – 23 60 47 34
24 – 26 47 27 27
27 – 29 32 31 22
30 – 32 23 19 17
33 – 35 22 15 10
36+ 75 51 50
Total 319 236 197

Offender Age – Restorative Road Safety Programme

Age 2019 2018 2017
17 0 2 0
18 – 20 22 29 11
21 – 23 12 18 14
24 – 26 9 16 12
27 – 29 13 15 8
30 – 32 12 14 14
33 – 35 9 12 4
36+ 37 24 24
Missing 0 1 0
Total 114 131 87

Outcomes 

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 

Court Outcome 2019 2018 2017
Strike out 93 65 53
Disposal under the Probation of Offenders Act  63 60 45
Fines 23 14 9
Non-appearance warrant issued 26 16 18
Probation Bond 18 16 15
Suspended sentence 23 11 11
Community Service Order 3 7 3
Peace Bond 4 5 6
Custody 6 5 5
Peace Bond and compensation 0 2 0
Peace/Probation Bond and suspended sentence 2 1 0
Other  4 2 1
Total 265 204 166
Compensation and Charitable Donations  2019 2018 2017
Compensation €10,715 €7,033 €7,085
Charitable donations €17,151 €15,545 €13,950
Total €27,866 €22,578 €21,035

Court outcomes may include more than one type of sanction (e.g. Probation Bond and fine)

Outcomes – Restorative Road Safety Programme 

Court Outcome 2019 2018 2017
Fine and disqualification  21 21 15
Non-appearance warrant issued 7 18 5
Fine 14 13 13
Community Service Order 6 8 5
Suspended sentence/Part suspended sentence 1 9 7
Strike out 5 7 3
Disqualified 5 7 2
Custody 1 5 0
Peace/Probation Bond  4 6 12
Suspended sentence and disqualification 3 3 0
Suspended sentence and Probation Bond 2
Suspended sentence and fine 2
Disposal under the Probation of Offenders Act  2 3 4
Community Service Order, fine and disqualification 0 3 0
Community Service Order and disqualification 3
Other 7 14 0
Total 85 114 69
Compensation and Charitable Donations 2019 2018 2017
Compensation €1,100 €0 €3,600
Charitable donations €5,060 €8,620 €7,512
Total €6,160 €8,620 €11,112

Court outcomes may include more than one type of sanction

C.     Sources of further information

Websites

Annual Reports

Strategic Plans

Academic Articles

McStravick, D. (2018). ‘Adult Reparation Panels’, International Journal of Restorative Justice.