This Research Briefing outlines my research with Nicole Westmarland and Nikki Godden-Rasul on the possibilities of using restorative justice in cases of sexual violence. Our research suggests there are good grounds for considering afresh the possibilities of restorative justice in cases of sexual violence.
In this article for the Restorative Justice Council magazine, I suggest that at a very general level, restorative approaches are more likely to be suitable in cases of familial violence than those of intimate partner violence. If any case of domestic violence is being considered for restorative justice, it must be survivor driven and requires expert facilitators, specialist support for victim-survivors and perpetrators and extensive planning and preparation. And while restorative approaches are likely to be rarely used in such cases, if we are to listen to the voices of victim-survivors, we must be open to the possibility.
Do the police use restorative justice in cases of domestic abuse? Including for intimate partner abuse? What about community resolutions – are they also used? If they are, isn’t this contrary to official College of Policing guidance? These are some of the questions my colleagues Nicole Westmarland, Kelly Johnson and I ask in our research which – for the first time – investigates the extent to which the police are using restorative justice and community resolutions – what we call ‘out of court resolutions’ in cases of domestic abuse. This research has now been published in the prestigious British Journal of Criminology and is available free to download here.
Together with Nicole Westmarland, I submitted evidence to the Ministry of Justice’s Inquiry into the use of restorative justice outlining our research into the use and possibilities of restorative justice in cases of domestic and sexual abuse. Our submission is available here.
Restorative Justice and Sexual Violence: Lucy’s Story (2013)
Lucy is a survivor of child rape and other forms of sexual abuse. For a summary of Lucy’s experiences of a restorative justice conference, read my article in Restorative Justice Council’s magazine Resolution, pp 8-9, available here: Resolution _47 Spring 2013