Safer Mid Canterbury has delivered Restorative Justice Services in the Ashburton District Court since the initiative started in 1999.
Restorative Justice is a community-based response to crime. It aims to hold people to account for their offending and, where possible, repair the harm they’ve done to the victim and the community. Participation in Restorative Justice is voluntary and involves a facilitated meeting between the victim and offender.
Restorative Justice is only explored when an offender has plead guilty or acknowledged the harm they have caused. The referrals to the service can come from the court or the police.
It is a voluntary process for all parties and will not go ahead unless both victim and offender agree and it is determined suitable by the Restorative Justice facilitator.
Separate meetings are held with both the victim and offender with the process explained, and their experiences around the offending are discussed in full. If both parties agree to continue, and the facilitator has deemed it suitable, there will be a conference with the offender, victim and the relevant support people. This meeting is put into a detailed report that is sent to the court or police for their consideration in determining the sentence.
Restorative Justice allows for outcomes such as reparation, counselling, courses or simply a genuine apology and explanation.
There are three types of Restorative Justice referrals that are dealt with:
- Standard – These referrals come from the criminal court when there is a named victim or victims, there are a range of offences that are covered such as shoplifting, assault, fraud, careless or dangerous driving, wilful damage, theft and burglary. These referrals can range from being straight forward to complex, depending on the level of offending and the impact on the victim or the community.
- Family Violence – These referrals are where there has been harm caused to a victim that is or has been in any kind of family relationship with the offender. This process is facilitated by an accredited facilitator with a family violence endorsement, and often is complex due to the nature of familiarity between offender and victim.
- Police Diversion – Diversion is based on the principle that not all offenders need to enter the formal criminal justice system, and that early intervention can reduce the likelihood of re-offending. The normal restorative justice process is worked through, along with any set tasks that the police diversion officer may have contracted the offender to complete. If all is completed and meets requirements laid out by the police diversion officer, the charges will be withdrawn by the police.
Safer Mid Canterbury currently delivers Restorative Justice services in the Ashburton, Timaru and Oamaru District Courts with a team of trained, accredited and endorsed facilitators in each area who work alongside the court, police, Corrections, and other community service providers, to ensure the benefits for both offenders and victims are restorative and positive.
Restorative Justice has shown in studies over the years to be productive in the reduction of re-offending. This is beneficial for the offender and victim, and also for the community.
For more information on this service, please email us via our contact form.