Justice: Developing restorative approaches

Social workers and residential care employees are among the professionals to be included in the UK's first register of restorative justice experts. Compiled by the Restorative Justice Council (RJC), it is hoped the initiative will offer assurances for families regarding the expertise of conflict resolution professionals, Community Care reports.

Lizzie Nelson, director at the RJC - which is the independent third sector membership body for the field of restorative practice - said the launch of the register is representative of a significant step in helping staff in the social care sector ensure an improved way of working with conflict regarding young individuals and their loved ones.

The industry figure noted: "It will give young people and families engaging in a restorative process confidence that the people working with them are providing a high quality, evidence-based approach."

Robert Forde, Chartered Psychologist, commented: "Restorative justice is not so much a treatment programme as a philosophical approach to criminal justice. 

"As such, the term covers a wide range of differing practices and it is not always easy to distinguish which are the most effective elements. Perhaps for this reason, the impact of restorative justice upon offending is not always easy to evaluate. 

"There is plenty of anecdotal evidence that both offenders and victims have found it helpful, but the results of formal studies have been mixed. Practitioners from many different backgrounds have become involved in this approach to criminal justice. 

"Psychologists in particular can contribute to the development of restorative justice by establishing effective measures of the various elements in a scheme and of the outcomes which it produces, thus helping to refine the approach and determine the most effective elements."