Probation Restorative Justice - A Framework for Practice 2020-23

Published date:

Probation Board for Northern Ireland and Restorative Context

The aim of Probation is “changing lives for safer communities” and we lead in the reduction of re-offending by tackling the root causes of offending behaviour and rehabilitating people.

Our vision statement highlights that “We will be collaborative and transformative to reduce the number of victims of crime and build safer communities”. (PBNI Corporate Plan 2020-23)

Probation works directly and indirectly with victims of crime. In supervising those who have offended, we work restoratively and challenge them to look at the impact their crime has had on victims, families and communities.

In 2014, Probation developed a Restorative Interventions Strategy (2014 – 2017) to ensure that victim needs and restorative principles were further integrated as components of Probation’s practice with adults who offended. Work arising from this Strategy focused on restorative training for Probation staff, and embedding restorative interventions within everyday practice, including case management supervision, custody and programmes. As part of this Strategy, our Psychology and Programmes Teams designed the Victim Awareness intervention which all staff are now trained in.

Probation has developed a strong practice base for the delivery of Restorative practices which has been referenced by the DOJ in its recent consultation on the Adult Restorative Justice Strategy: “PBNI has delivered restorative interventions in response to direct victim requests, particularly in more serious cases including those resulting in a death or serious violence. In line with victim choice, the majority of these cases have resulted in an indirect restorative intervention, however, a number have included a victim offender meeting”. (Page 10, Consultation on a Draft Adult Restorative Justice Strategy for Northern Ireland, 2020).

Strategic Priority 1 of Probation’s Corporate Plan 2020-23, Probation committed to ‘developing restorative practices with adults who have offended’ and prioritising victims. The development of the framework is an objective within Probation’s current Business Plan 2020-21 and also links to the strategic recommendation from the CJINI Inspection Report, December 2020 “Probation Practice: An Inspection of the Probation Board for Northern Ireland", that the Probation Board for Northern Ireland should refresh its restorative justice strategy within six months of publication of this report, giving consideration to current and future opportunities for restorative practice and how these could be enhanced further to utilise the skills of probation staff and restorative justice delivery partners.

Probation believes that a restorative justice perspective which places victims at the heart of our practice is central to our work with individuals who have offended. We have provided Restorative Justice Training for approximately 30 staff across the organisation over the last number of years.

This framework has been informed by the views of these trained staff and builds upon our previous Restorative Interventions Strategy. Probation works collaboratively with the community based restorative justice organisations and Victim Support NI to deliver restorative practices, and has close working relationships with the Youth Justice Agency and Irish Probation Service to share developments in practice within the two jurisdictions.

Probation is a member of the Restorative Practices Forum (NI) and maintains links with the European Forum for Restorative Justice (EFRJ) regarding research developments and practice. This paper details how we will further progress the operational delivery of Restorative practices within the organisation.

The framework will be amended to consider the outworking of the DOJ’s Adult Restorative Justice Strategy; the Sentencing Review (October 2019); and the RJ recommendation 19 of Judge Marrinan’s Independent Review of Hate Crime legislation in Northern Ireland (November 2020).

A number of actions and training objectives have been aligned to the framework and are designed both to enhance the knowledge and skills of staff and be flexible and responsive to changes in legislation or policy including the Adult Restorative Justice Strategy and the Review of Hate Crime