Comparing victim offender mediation and restorative conferences. Tim Chapman
University of Ulster
* Latin Mediare – to be in the
middle or centre
* An intervention designed to
bring about a settlement or
people in dispute.
* Latin Conferre – to bring
together: ferre means to
* A meeting bringing together
people with a common
interest in restoring what
has been violated, lost or
damaged by an injustice.
Victim Offender Narrative Family Group Restorative Restorative
Mediation Mediation Conferences Conferences Circles
The critical importance of context and culture
* Community Restorative Justice Ireland
* Alternatives NI
* Family Group Conferences
* Children’s Units
* Low risk – Police restorative cautioning
* Medium risk – Public Prosecution Service referral for diversionary conference by
Youth Conference Service
* High risk – Youth Court referral by Youth Conference Service
* Priority young offenders programme
* Probation Service
* Prison Service – rehabilitation and resettlement
*Statutory since 2003
*Mainstream within the youth justice system
*Youth court referred
*Offenders and victims decide
*All offences other than those with a mandatory
*Referrals and ratification by PPS or Youth Court
*15,000 youth conferences since 2003
High victim participation
90%+ victim satisfaction
High completion rate (95%)
*Reoffending rates (2008) within one year:
Custody – 68.3%
Community based disposals – 53.5%
Youth Conference Orders – 45.4%
Diversionary conference plans – 29.5%
Person responsible for harm Injured party
Community safety and reintegration
Reducing risk and working
towards a better life
and repairing the harm
* Focus on crime as a conflict
between two people which
should be settled privately.
* Focus on crime as harm and
the aim of reducing suffering
and preventing further
suffering. Recognises the
‘ripple’ effect of harm on
others and that harm has a
social context and public
significance. Draws on
criminological theory –
* The key parties are the
offender and the victim
* Key parties include the
offender, the victim and the
community and each party’s
community of support. Does
not always include the
* Preparation – explanation of the process, consent,
clarifying positions and expectations.
* Meeting – not always necessary or desirable.
* establishment of ground rules framing the
boundaries of mediation
* parties detail their stories
* identification of issues
* clarify and detail respective interests and
* search for objective criteria
* identify options
* discuss and analyze solutions
* adjust and refine proposed solutions
* record agreement in writing
* Ratification and Review
* Preparation - High priority given to preparation.
Focus on the harm and “Thickening the Story”.
truth. Truth is both forensic and narrative.
Attention to emotions, needs, questions and
* Conference – Face to face desirable.
* Ground rules and statement of facts
* Person responsible for harm makes self
accountable to the persons whom they have
* This means the parties’ stories are questions are
critical. Inquiry into empathy, remorse and
* Dialogue mat transform the truth, identify and
clarify needs and generate agreed actions.
* Supervision and support
* Conflict is normal and the
mediator is morally neutral
about it and impartial
towards the parties.
* But also proactive and
strategic in negotiating a
* The mediator is ‘in the
* Openly against harm and the
suffering it causes.
* The person is not the problem;
the problem is the problem.
* On everyone’s side. Everyone’s
needs must be met.
* The process enables the parties
to have their needs met.
* The facilitator should ‘get out of
the way’ and trust the process.
* The harm is ‘in the middle’.
* A resolution to the conflict
which is satisfactory to the
parties and in some cases
* An agreed plan to address the
consequences and the causes
of the harm which is
satisfactory to all parties and
to the public, prosecutor or
* Victim satisfaction and
* Civic culture of respect and
* Greater social cohesion