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Restorative justice: understanding the enablers and barriers to victim participation in England and Wales

Banwell-Moore, Rebecca (2019) Restorative justice: understanding the enablers and barriers to victim participation in England and Wales. PhD thesis, The University of Sheffield.

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Abstract

Since 2012 there has been significant government support for the expansion and use of restorative justice (hereafter, RJ) within the criminal justice system in England and Wales. This accords with not only international and national instruments but also good practice guidance that endorses RJ as a key justice mechanism. Nonetheless, evidence suggests very few victims participate or get the opportunity to participate in a RJ process. This thesis explores the key factors that inhibit or, conversely, enable victims’ participation and the remedial action required to ensure participation levels are increased. The way the offer of RJ was made by criminal justice organisations within two separate police forces was explored through participant observation, semi-structured interviews (n=89) and analysis of official documents in order to understand and determine how the culture, mechanisms and approaches of criminal justice organisations and RJ services influenced and affected victim participation. Semi-structured interviews were also conducted with victims (n=24) and provided an understanding, from the victims’ perspectives, of their experiences of RJ and how the offer of RJ was made and received. The thesis argues that ‘institutional inertia’ combined with the culture, mechanisms and approaches adopted by criminal justice professionals’ impact upon whether victims are given the opportunity to participate in a RJ intervention and subsequent participation. The findings of this study suggest that criminal justice professionals subjectively select ‘ideal RJ victims’ and do not make proactive and systematic offers of RJ to all victims. In stark contradiction to the RJ principle of ‘inclusivity’ victims are excluded and not routinely offered RJ. If RJ is to be fully integrated into the organisational culture and ethos of criminal justice then its agencies need to develop a culture of RJ based upon the principles of inclusivity and engagement, thus ensuring equal access to RJ for all victims.  

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: restorative justice, victims, victim participation, inclusivity
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield)
The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > School of Law (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Dr Rebecca Banwell-Moore
Date Deposited: 19 May 2020 15:40
Last Modified: 19 May 2020 15:40
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/26923

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