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. Approximately half of the cases are verbal altercations and just under half are incidents of violence. Incidents of debt and bullying are 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.

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 people harmed by disruptive behaviours and those responsible for the harm into communication with each other, enabling everyone affected by a particular incident 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 and a better future for individuals.

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.

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 Restorative Justice 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 Restorative Justice based at 10 Crown Courts across the country.

The programme was designed to assess whether:

  • pre-sentence Restorative Justice 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 Restorative Justice 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 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.

National Offender Management Service Capacity Building

The NOMS programme ran from January 2011 and closed 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 Restorative Justice scheme - Wait 'til Eight

  • A  guide for prison governors on how to provide a supportive environment for Restorative Justice

  • 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.

NRJ (Neighbourhood Restorative Justice)

Following the development of a number of Neighbourhood Restorative Justice 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. 

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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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