The IARS response was prepared by Dr. Theo Gavrielides and was preceded by an open Call for Evidence. Several submissions were made by restorative justice experts and young people. IARS also used its on-going research programmes on restorative justice, youth justice and criminal justice.
Dr. Theo Gavrielides, IARS Director said: "IARS recognises the need, and indeed the opportunity, to organise and professionalise the UK’s restorative justice movement. There is a good body of evidence suggesting that restorative justice practices are found in all sorts of contexts (community, prisons, schools, work place etc), but without being mapped, evaluated or appreciated. This often means that practitioners receive little infrastructure support and recognition. It also means that they continue to operate in the shadow of the law and with very little funding. We also acknowledge the need to raise and formalise, to some extent, the quality criteria of a restorative justice practice".
IARS' response highlighted some real concerns about the proposed Register, as we have evidence to believe that despite good intentions:
- it may disengage and upset practitioners who are already involved in the restorative justice movement
- it may be seen as a “top down” approach that does not relate to the “bottom up” structure and vision of the restorative justice notion
- it may put financial constrains to practitioners, particularly voluntary mediators, and create unfair competition between those who can afford paid membership and those who cant
- it may create a “closed shop” of likeminded professionals and exclude the diversity and richness that currently characterises the movement and its practice.
Linked to the above is our concern that due to the limited capacity within RJC, the proposed Register will absorb all organisational capacity and as a result the much needed voice and representation service to RJ practitioners will disappear.
As an independent think-tank, IARS has presented evidence that call for more infrastructure support for restorative justice practitioners. An independent, bottom up voice is needed if government and policy makers are to proceed with an evidence based strategy that has the buy in from communities and the restorative justice movement. To read the IARS responce click here
For questions or comments please contact Dr. Theo Gavrielides