Restorative Justice: repairing harm in Scotland
Restorative Justice officer Rachael Moss explains how she wants to get people talking about the process that’s helping people heal from harm.
I’m keen to raise awareness and understanding about Restorative Justice across Scotland and how it could help people recover from the harms of crime.
Restorative Justice (RJ) is a process that offers safe and structured communication between people who have been harmed and people responsible for causing harm.
It’s managed by trained facilitators with the overall aim of attempting to address the impact of the harm to offer healing and closure.
Evidence shows that Restorative Justice can reduce the likelihood of further offending, help people recover from the harm of crime, and provide greater satisfaction with the justice process.
My role at Community Justice Scotland is to support and monitor the delivery of the Scottish Government’s Restorative Justice action plan. (Restorative justice: action plan – gov.scot (www.gov.scot) I do this in partnership with the Children and Young People’s Centre for Justice (CYCJ) to ensure consistency across adult and youth services. The three main outcomes of the plan are to make RJ available across Scotland, for it to be delivered by trained facilitators and for there to be an awareness and understanding of RJ across Scotland.
I felt a media clip would be useful to raise awareness and understanding of RJ – but I discovered there weren’t any online which described RJ in a Scottish context.
In Scotland we use the terms ‘person harmed’ and the ‘person who caused harm’. The majority of animation clips I found online used the terms ‘victim’ and ‘perpetrator’ which I feel can be labelling and dehumanising.
Pamela Morrison from CYCJ and myself set out to produce a short animation clip that would illustrate RJ in a Scottish context and raise awareness and understanding among stakeholders, services and the general public. It was important to us that we chose an animator able to produce detailed illustrations as we felt this would be key to grabbing attention and maintaining engagement.
The most challenging part of creating the animation was writing the script and trying to consolidate a comprehensive topic into a short clip. We took on feedback from members of the RJ stakeholder group to ensure key information was included.
We wanted to show the benefits of RJ from people who have experienced it, including those harmed and those who caused harm. We worked closely with Why me? and Youth Just Us who kindly provided case testimonials to demonstrate that RJ offers a different form of ‘justice’ that allows opportunities to have unanswered questions addressed and provide closure.
It was essential that the animation picked up on some of the key principles of RJ. It’s a voluntary process, which requires the consent of both parties and evidence that the person responsible for causing harm accepts responsibility. RJ processes can be terminated by either party, at any point. It was also important to emphasise that RJ is a process that involves careful planning, preparation and risk assessment.
As well as the publication of the animation, we created a survey to measure RJ awareness and some questions to establish the impact of the media clip, which will be published in the summer (2021).
We hope that this animation is successful in getting people talking and raising awareness and understanding among the public, services and institutions. The animation clip can also be used in consultations and training sessions to ensure a basic understanding of the concept of RJ. We hope people will share it far and wide.
There is also a short survey for children and young people aged up to 25 asking their views about RJ on behalf of the Scottish Government. Details here: http://www.cycj.org.uk/news/children-and-young-people-take-our-restorative-justice-survey/ (closes 25 July 2021)
* Please see the following website for on-going updates on the development of RJ in Scotland https://www.gov.scot/groups/restorative-justice-stakeholder-group/