Probation Service Welcomes New Government Policy Paper on Restorative Justice
The Probation Service welcomes the new Policy Paper on ‘Promoting and supporting the provision of Restorative Justice at all stages of the criminal justice system’, which was published today by the Minister for State with responsibility for Law Reform and Youth Justice, James Browne T.D.
Commenting on the new policy paper, Fíona Ní Chinnéide, Director of Operations (Prisoners & Reintegration), said,
“We welcome the new policy paper which responds to commitments outlined in the Programme for Government and The Justice Plan 2023 to build capacity to delivery restorative justice, safely and effectively.
The Probation Service recognises the important role that restorative justice plays in supporting the reduction of reoffending. In our supervision of people who have offended, we aim to work restoratively and challenge them to address the harm caused through their crime by reflecting on its impact on victims, families and wider communities.
The new policy paper builds on existing work within the Service to expand the provision and access of community-based restorative justice services nationwide, including our recent commitment to fund a new restorative justice outreach service in the North West. It also complements our ongoing Review of Community Service which seeks to maximise its potential as a reparative community sanction by advancing the principles of restorative justice and implementing a desistance-informed approach in our operations of Community Service Orders (CSOs) nationally.
Finally the policy paper supports our strategic ambition to adopt a more victim-sensitive approach to criminal offending by further embedding the principles of restorative justice in our day-to-day practice with clients through increased training and skills development by the Service’s dedicated Restorative Justice and Victims Services Unit. We look forward to working with the Department of Justice and other partner agencies to ensure the promotion and provision of restorative justice services are available in all geographical areas and at all stages of the criminal justice system.”
The published policy paper can be viewed here.
- Since the late 1990s, the Probation Service has formally recognised Restorative Justice as one distinct approach within an overall strategy of providing an effective response to crime.
- In October 2018, following the enactment of the Criminal Justice (Victims of Crime) Act in late 2017, the Probation Service established a National Restorative Justice and Victim Services Unit which provides support and training to Probation teams across the country.
- The Unit provides leadership and support for the consistent and integrated provision of a range of restorative justice models including family/restorative conference, offender reparation panel, victim offender mediation and ‘bespoke’ restorative interventions. The Unit also provides a central point of contact for an effective response to victim queries and requests.
- In addition to direct support and training provided by the Restorative Justice and Victims Services Unit, the Probation Service provides funding to four community-based organisations to provide dedicated restorative justice programmes. These include:
- Restorative Justice Services in the Greater Dublin region
- Restorative Justice in the Community in Tipperary, Laois & Offaly
- The Cornmarket Project in Wexford
- Le Chéile provides a dedicated RJ service for young people in Limerick and South West region.
- In 2023, the Probation Service allocated additional funding to Tuam Community Training Centre in Co. Galway to support the recruitment of a Restorative Justice worker for the North West region. It is anticipated that this appointment will be operational before the end of 2023 and will supplement the work undertaken directly by Probation Officers in the region.