Minister Browne Publishes Policy Paper on Restorative Justice
The Programme for Government Our Shared Future makes the commitment to work with all criminal justice agencies to build capacity to deliver Restorative Justice, safely and effectively. Publishing this policy paper, Promoting and supporting the provision of Restorative Justice at all stages of the criminal justice system works toward fulfilment of this pledge.
Publishing the paper, Minister Browne said, “this policy paper is a culmination of a body of work carried out by the Department since the 2020 Programme for Government was published. At the same time, it signposts the next steps for continuing to ensure the safe and effective delivery of Restorative Justice initiatives, and sets out a roadmap for present and future attainment of the highest standards in this area.”
“In light of the clear and positive benefits of Restorative Justice to victims, offenders, and the State, and mindful of the opportunity to increase current levels of provision of Restorative Justice services, the path forward that this paper identifies – to strengthen existing capabilities within current structures – provides the best prospect to make the most significant impact with the greatest efficiency.”
Restorative Justice aims to enable all those affected by an offence to participate actively in repairing the harm done and to find a positive way forward. Restorative Justice is now legislated for, and widely used, in many countries throughout the world. In Europe, a recent legal framework supports making Restorative Justice available with all offences and at all stages of the criminal justice process.
Most recent figures for Ireland, prepared by Restorative Justice Strategies for Change (RJS4C: Ireland), estimated that the total number of Restorative Justice cases reported was 1,056 in 2020. While initial figures have been produced for 2022, they do not yet include youth cautions. After removing youth cautions from the relevant previous year figures, while they show a slight increase for 2022 (413) based on 2021 (395) and 2020 (340), they are significantly down on the 2019 figure of 721.
In closing, Minister Browne stated, “it is reasonable to conclude that Ireland is yet to use Restorative Justice to its maximum potential, and that the use of this process would increase greatly if it is more widely available. To that end, the very title of this paper is indicative – Promoting and supporting the provision of Restorative Justice at all stages of the criminal justice system. And, at all stages, our unwavering commitment to continued improvement, toward achievement of this goal, will remain.”