What are Restorative Justice preparation meetings?

Preparation meetings are an important part of Restorative Justice, when trained facilitators can identify the specifics of what an individual wants and expects from their participation in the process. 

What do participants want to say? 

Often, victims and offenders who have self-referred might have some idea of what they want to say, or how they want to say it - this could be in a face-to-face conversation, or indirectly via phone call, letter, video call or other means. Preparation meetings can help participants articulate their thoughts, and consider the practicalities of what they want to do. There might also be other aspects of the restorative process that parties hadn't considered that these meetings raise. For example, does the victim want a response from the offender? What form would they like that response to take? Is there anything that they would like the response to particularly address?

How long does preparing for a Restorative Justice meeting take? 

Sometimes, not many preparation meetings are needed in order for a restorative meeting to take place. A recent face-to-face conference between a victim and offender took a matter of weeks because the offender was able to offer everything that the victim needed, and since little risk was foreseen, the meeting went ahead relatively quickly.

Other cases may need more preparation meetings. Perhaps the mental health of a participant means that they might need extra help or support to get to a place where they are ready to undertake the restorative process. Facilitators proceed with particular caution, and a trauma informed approach in order to ensure further harm is not caused. In a recent case of robbery, both parties were keen to meet each other, but both had mental health issues. This meant that when the victim was ready, the offender was not, and when the offender was ready, the victim was not. The case took four years to get to a point where both parties could meet. There is no "one size fits all approach" - it depends entirely on the readiness of the parties. There can also be occasions where a case has needed to pause due to external factors.  

Preparation meetings can take a long time because, when an offence happens, both parties can have a different narrative about what took place, and why. It can be difficult for participants to unpick that narrative, and hear someone else's version of events. In some instances, this doesn't particularly matter (such as if a victim wants to explain the harm that has been caused by an offender's actions) whereas sometimes it can be crucial (if a victim wants specific answers to specific questions).  

Preparing for what could be said 

Preparation meetings also are a way of helping all parties ensure that they are ready for whatever response comes back, whether the answer is expected or not. In one robbery case, the victim was held at gunpoint - an incredibly traumatic experience for him. He noted, "I needed to know whether they would have fired it. That was all I could think of for ages after it happened…how much danger had I actually been in? I can't even properly explain why I needed to know, but it was all I could focus on. The facilitators working with me spent time helping me be prepared for every eventuality, in a way I hadn't considered. It took a while, but we got to a stage where - whatever the answer was - I was ready for it, I was supported, and I was calm." 

Likewise, information may come out during the preparation meetings which might be difficult for either party to hear, so facilitators spend time ensuring the information can be delivered and received in a suitable manner. 

The goal of preparation meetings is that when both parties come together, directly or indirectly, they feel prepared for what they're about to hear. If you have been involved in a crime and think Restorative Justice could be right for you, please get in touch. 

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What people say about Restorative Solutions

I'm so glad I am working with Restorative Justice. I don't know who would listen to me if it wasn’t for you.
A Person Harmed by Crime
Restorative Justice is very underrated and I certainly think we should be using it more.
A Professional who Referred Someone into our Service
Very satisfied – it’s been a great service. A worthwhile process for me and I hope for the offenders. Staff have been great and I would like to thank them.
A victim
It was the right thing to do. Both victims told me to let go of what happened. I didn't want to hear it but they both forgave me and said I should move on. I have taken that on and thought about it and I have come to terms with what happened. You've helped me significantly. It's as though my head has been lifted of a gigantic weight.
An Offender
Thanks for your time today. I feel like you understand R so well, I really hope you can help him to learn how to be happy.
Feedback from a family in East Kent
Restorative Justice offers a unique opportunity for victims and survivors to move on from and overcome the trauma that can be left with them after experiencing crime. I am exceedingly proud of the work that the team at Restorative Solutions do in supporting our community. We should always consider the needs of victims of crime and this service exemplifies that sentiment and allows so many to put behind them what can be the worst experience of their lives.
Marc Jones, Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner and Chair of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners.

Case Studies

A Creeper Burglary: Restorative Justice Case Study

This was a case of an overnight “creeper” burglary in a residential area where the harmer had gained access through an u...

A Non-Recent Child Sexual Abuse: Restorative Justice Case Study

The victim in this non-recent child sexual abuse case was a 56-year-old woman called Lisa. Her father sexually abused he...

A Robbery: Restorative Justice Case Study

This Restorative Justice case saw Jamie and Ruth openly communicate in a face-to-face conference. Years before, Jamie at...

A Manslaughter: Restorative Justice Case Study

We received a referral from a Victim Liaison Officer who was working on a manslaughter case. The grandmother advised the...

A Workplace Assault: Restorative Justice Case Study

Nick worked at a clothing shop. When he noticed Glenn, a customer, shoplifting, Nick stepped in to challenge him. The po...

An Attempted Burglary: Restorative Justice Case Study

When Joanne and her husband had just gone to bed, they heard a really loud bang downstairs. They immediately thought som...

Death by Drug Overdose: A Restorative Justice Case Study

A young woman passed away after she was supplied Class A drugs. The person who supplied these drugs was convicted and se...

Firearms Offence: A Restorative Justice Case Study

The offender in this case had been suffering with issues affecting his mental health which he tried to manage with alcoh...

Fraud: A Restorative Justice Case Study

The offender defrauded a woman he was in an intimate relationship with, stealing over £50,000 over a course of months. T...

Harmful Sexual Behaviour: A Restorative Justice Case Study

The offender had sexually abused her young daughter, taking inappropriate photographs that were distributed to a third p...

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