Individuals – Shapland et al. (2008) (Northumbria – Juveniles)

Study Reference:

Shapland, J., Atkinson, A, Atkinson, H., Dignan, J., Edwards, L., Hibbert, J., Howes, M, Johnstone, J., Robinson, G. and Sorsby, A. (2008), ‘Does restorative justice affect reconviction? The fourth report from the evaluation of three schemes’ (London: Ministry of Justice).

Location in the Matrix; Methodological Rigor; Outcome:

Individuals; General; Reactive; Very Rigorous; No evidence of an effect

What police practice or strategy was examined?

This report analyzes the effects of various restorative justice conference schemes. The focus of this summary is for youth offenders of violence and property crimes. Restorative justice was defined to involve: “a process whereby parties with a stake in a specific offence collectively resolve how to deal with the aftermath of the offence and its implications for the future”. Conferencing involved a face-to-face meeting between the offender and victim with a police facilitator(s). One or more supporters of the victim and the offender were also present (family, people affected by the offence, people who are important to the offender or victim).

How was the intervention evaluated?

The experiment randomly assigned 165 juvenile offenders to receive diversion to a police caution with a restorative justice conference, or to diversion with caution with no conference. Re-offending was examined in the context of reconviction or further offending resulting in an official disposal.

What were the key findings?

35% of conference offenders and 44% of the control group were reconvicted within 2 years, but this was not a statistically significant difference. However, across all conference schemes, both offenders and victims were highly satisfied with the process of restorative justice and what happened in conferences. Further, youth who actually completed the restorative justice outcome agreement were less likely to re-offend.

What were the implications for law enforcement?

Overall, assignment to restorative justice conferences did not reduce offending among delinquent youth. This suggests that while restorative justice conferencing may have benefits for some youth (those who complete their conferencing agreements), it may not work well as a general intervention program applied to all youth offenders. However, another benefit to restorative justice conferences for youth offenders is that they improve victim and offender satisfaction with the justice process.

Where can I find more information about this intervention, similar types of intervention, or related studies?