Draft protocol for restorative justice in Northern Ireland published

Draft protocol for restorative justice in Northern Ireland published

A new draft protocol governing the use of restorative interventions in the criminal justice system in Northern Ireland has been published.

Then-justice minister Naomi Long last year ordered a review of the 2007 protocol which governs the work of community-based restorative justice (CBRJ) organisations in Northern Ireland.

The review was undertaken by an independent three-person panel of experts who considered the adequacy of the existing protocol and sought to establish a fresh approach to the increased use of restorative justice.

The panel members were Professor Tim Chapman, Dr Neil Jarman and Judith Gillespie, all of whom have a wealth of knowledge in respect of the criminal justice system and community-based restorative practice.

Richard Pengelly CB, permanent secretary at the Department of Justice, said: “The review report published today sets out a new approach for the use of restorative interventions as part of the criminal justice system.

“There has been a significant growth in the use of restorative practices in Northern Ireland and it is therefore incumbent on us to build on that positive work and to introduce a revised protocol that will help and support that growth even further.”

The panel’s report details how a new accreditation process will work for both organisations and individuals, in addition to meeting specific training standards. Those seeking accreditation must work to fundamental standards of upholding the rule of law, adhering to human rights standards and working with all criminal justice agencies, including the PSNI.

In a statement, the review panel said: “We have met with a wide range of stakeholders including victim/survivor support groups and voluntary and community organisations. We have consulted across a wide spectrum of government bodies and academic and statutory stakeholders from across the criminal justice system.

“We thank everyone for having their say. We are very grateful to those who took the time to assist with this review and for the frank and thoughtful contributions we received.”

Mr Pengelly concluded: “We are delighted to publish this review report today and will work closely with our criminal justice partners as we move to finalise the protocol in the coming months.”

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