Pathfinder Programmes and Pilots

Over the last five years Restorative Solutions have run a number of local and national Pathfinder Programmes for the Ministry of Justice, NOMS (now HMPPS) and local commissioners, as well as developing innovative pilots in a range of areas.

Restorative Prisons

Reducing Conflict and Harm within Prisons and Young Offender Institutions

Restorative Solutions have introduced and embedded restorative approaches across HMP Buckley Hall to resolve conflict among prisoners, among staff, and between prisoners and staff. This is a whole prison restorative approach that improves respect and relationships at all levels, contributing to a safer, more secure and more supportive environment for prisoners and staff alike. 

For low level conflicts and disagreements, trained prisoners and staff conduct informal restorative meetings. For more serious or complex matters, they use formal restorative conferences. The use of co-facilitation between staff and prisoners is working successfully where appropriate. Regular joint staff and prisoner meetings take place to share knowledge and experiences. As of October 2017 restorative approaches had been used in 56 cases of conflict. Informal meetings were used in 29 of these cases and formal conferences were used in 16 cases. Approximately half of these cases were verbal altercations and just under half were incidents of violence. Incidents of debt and bullying were also addressed successfully using well-managed restorative interventions.

Feedback from Staff and Prisoners

"I will use Restorative Approaches in every relationship for the rest of my life."

"Restorative Approaches, a powerful process that really works."

"The Restorative Approach was really good. I can't wait to use it and make a difference."

"I believe this is a positive tool to use in various situations/incidents to help reduce violence and resolve any disagreements."

"It will be a very useful tool to use and develop not only for prisoners but for the establishment."

The restorative approach is not an alternative to the formal Incentives & Earned Privileges (IEP) system or adjudication process but it is working effectively as an early intervention to prevent minor conflicts escalating and to reintegrate prisoners back into the mainstream prison following a significant conflict and adjudication.

Work at HMP Buckley Hall has been extended for a further 9 months. Our restorative approach is also in progress at HMP Peterborough and will soon be introduced to three further establishments in the North West. The initial pilot is subject to an external evaluation by ICPR, which will be published early in 2018.

If you would like to know more about the programme contact

Read case studies here:

HMP Buckley Hall

HMP Peterborough Women's 

Behaviour Outreach Support Service

We have worked with Family Action in Lincolnshire to embed Restorative Practice within the county's Behaviour Outreach Support Service.

Restorative Approaches (RA) develop skills and behaviours that help build relationships and resolve conflict as a whole school intervention. This allows schools to get a deeper understanding of the child or young person’s behaviour to find a way forward.

RA provide the opportunity to learn the skills to find a solution or resolution to disruptive behaviours or conflict. They bring the children/young person harmed by disruptive behaviours and those responsible for the harm into communication with each other, enabling everyone affected by a particular incident(s) to play a part in repairing the harm and finding a positive way forward.

RA can involve the harmed and harmer(s), teachers, friends, family members and supporter(s).

Children/young people have the opportunity to be heard and to have their say in the resolution of harm caused, including agreeing a way forward. RA encourage children/young people to explore what is happening during times of conflict and to think about who is affected and to be part of coming up with solutions.

The approach is to affirm the child/young person’s voice in a non-judgmental environment while helping them develop skills and attitudes towards conflict resolution. 

RA also provide the opportunity to find and address any unmet needs. 

RAiS (Restorative Approaches in Schools)

Our work in educational establishments provides a direct response to the statistic that young people who are excluded from school and who do not complete their education are eight times more likely to become persistent offenders.

Restorative Approaches in Schools provides training for school staff in using restorative conferences and support in dealing with serious cases. Some 900 teachers and support staff have now been trained and over 400 conferences delivered. 40% of conferences contributed to the pupils involved being able to continue their education in school, representing huge savings to both school and education budgets.

In addition to providing teachers and support staff with training, Restorative Approaches in Schools also provides training in Restorative Approaches with pupils to use for dispute resolution themselves, a move that complements peer mentoring programmes.

Read a case study here

RAiH (Restorative Approaches in Housing)

Straightforward reports of neighbour nuisance can be resolved very quickly by using an instant Restorative Justice technique. This saves costs in terms of time and resources but more importantly can restore good neighbour relationships with minimum harm being caused. More complex cases, involving a history of neighbour nuisance, can be resolved in a more structured setting.

Housing associations and trusts with whom we have worked include:

  • Cherry Tree
  • Community Gateway
  • Golden Gates
  • Northern Counties
  • Places for People
  • Shropshire Housing
  • West Cheshire

Restorative Practice in Health

To evidence the effectiveness of Restorative Approaches in preventing patient concerns becoming formal complaints, we managed a Proof of Concept within Salford Royal Foundation Trust (SRFT). This was aimed at understanding the processes, systems and support required to scale-up the new ways of working.

This has enabled us to develop a bespoke training programme and service delivery model for the Health Sector.

Main Findings from the Proof of Concept

There was an appetite within SRFT to use Restorative Approaches to deal with concerns/complaints and the feedback from training was positive. In order for this new approach to become embedded, the following recommendations were made to ensure successful adoption of and expansion in the use of restorative approaches by SRFT: 

  • Strategic and operational buy-in from within the wards/departments and also the complaints process is crucial.
  • Training and development needs to be planned and coordinated, with resources available to take responsibility for supporting staff and ward practitioners to build confidence in dealing with concerns and complaints in a restorative manner.
  • Awareness across patients/patients family and staff of the availability of Restorative Approaches is needed.
  • Management and Performance Management systems, to ensure project success, gaps and areas for improvement, are recorded and monitored.

There were also a number of examples of restorative language being used within a HR arena to deal with conflict between staff. Feedback has included:

“We have found it useful to use in practice when preventing complaints, by being proactive and acting upon signs straight away and holding a meeting with all the relevant people involved.”

Pre Sentence RJ Pathfinder Programme

Between March 2014 and June 2015, Restorative Solutions worked with the MoJ, HMCTS, the judiciary, and NOMS to develop and manage a national pathfinder programme for pre-sentence RJ based at 10 Crown Courts across the country.

The programme was designed to assess whether:

  • pre-sentence RJ was attractive to victims
  • was useful to sentencers
  • could be delivered on the ground by volunteer facilitators
  • was logistically possible without derailing existing CJS processes and procedures

 The answer to all of these questions was yes.

Take up by victims was high with over 50% of those contacted interested to learn more. Once interested victims met with a trained facilitator, take up averaged 65%.

Take up by offenders who pleaded guilty was very high – over 95%.

 Outcomes included:

  • Victim satisfaction was very high – over 90% said they would recommend RJ to other victims, and many made the point that not only did they get answers to questions, which would not otherwise have been asked of the offender, but that they felt involved in their case rather than just being a “bystander."
  • Impact on offenders was significant, and included positive behaviour changes reported by prisons, recommendations to fellow inmates to participate, and also two known cases of family reintegration.
  • Sentencers stated that they found the reports to court useful, in particular because they provided an opportunity to hear the victims’ views.
  • There was almost universal support from CJS agencies & partners at every site. All reported minimal impact on their workloads.

Police Complaints

Restorative Solutions CIC has worked with Police Forces and other employers to introduce Restorative Approaches into their complaints handling procedures.

In Bristol, for example,  Avon and Somerset Police  have introduced a comprehensive Restorative Approaches offer to complainants when dealing with complaints suitable for 'Local Resolution'. This provides a proportionate response to such complaints, resulting in higher levels of satisfaction amongst complainants, whilst at the same time, providing an opportunity for staff to explain face to face with complainants, the reasons behind the action taken.

Such an approach to complaints handling allows for those members of staff complained about, to face their complainant and to subsequently reflect upon the situation that gave rise to the complaint - a powerful tool in enhancing the quality of service delivery to the public, especially within public sector organisations. Restorative Solutions CIC are able to provide a bespoke package to employers wanting to develop this area of their activity.

NOMS Capacity Building

The NOMS programme ran from January 2011 and closes in March 2015 to improve the capacity of the prison and probation services to deliver Restorative Justice - especially post-sentence victim / offender conferences in cases of serious violent and acquisitive crime.

Over 800 staff - including significant numbers from police and voluntary sector - were trained as facilitators, and foundation level awareness training was provided for several hundred more. Some facilitators were provided with further support by Restorative Solutions and became trainers, case supervisor, and accredited practitioners. 

Restorative Solutions cooperated with the Thames Valley Partnership on elements of the programme, including management support for prisons and probation areas, with two key outputs being produced:

  • A comprehensive guide to establishing an RJ scheme - Wait 'til Eight
  • A  guide for prison governors on how to provide a supportive environment for RJ
  • An evaluation of the programme, by the Institute for Criminal Policy Research at Birkbeck, University of London is available here: ICPR Evaluation

As lead partners in the definition and delivery of the NOMS (now HMPPS) programme we can support your organisation in the areas of strategic advice, management support and training to prisons, Offender Services, Community Rehabilitation Companies, and the National Probation Service.

For further information on any of these Restorative Justice support services or to arrange a no obligation initial discussion please contact Restorative Solutions on 01772 842 109 or complete our online enquiry form.

NRJ (Neighbourhood Restorative Justice)

Following the development of a number of Neighbourhood RJ sites (NRJ), we gained funding to expand the programme on a national basis. Fifty sites are now fully operational with plans to incorporate and integrate the approach in the areas where we are working with Police & Crime Commissioners. 

For further information or to arrange a no obligation initial discussion, please contact Gary Stephenson by emailing

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