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Victims satisfied by restorative justice - studies

Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Justice

21 February 2005
Media statement

Studies find victims satisfied by restorative justice

Most victims who took part in an evaluation of two North Island restorative justice programmes were satisfied with their meetings, according to evaluations released today by Justice Minister Phil Goff.

However Mr Goff said that further improvements in the process were possible and should be made.

The two Ministry of Justice reports evaluated community-managed restorative justice programmes in Wanganui and Rotorua. The programmes are among 19 around the country funded through the ministry's Crime Prevention Unit.

Mr Goff said the evaluations found both programmes had generally secured the support of victims, the wider community, and interested parties including the Judiciary, Police and Victim Support.

"Around 95 per cent of the victims who were surveyed said they were generally satisfied with their restorative justice meetings, and the majority of victims received an apology from their offender," Mr Goff said.

"While restorative justice has significant benefits for victims and communities by repairing some of the harm caused through offending, the evaluations found the re-offending rates of offenders who took part in these two programmes remained the same as for those of similar offenders dealt with by more mainstream criminal justice processes.

"Some other evaluations of restorative justice programmes, such as Project Turnaround in Timaru, had found not only significantly increased satisfaction on the part of victims with the process, but also reduced offending rates.

"However the reality is that other events in the life of the offender are also likely to impact on the propensity to re-offend. These require significant and long-term intervention beyond that provided in the restorative justice process.

Mr Goff said the two reports would help shape initiatives to improve restorative justice practice in line with best practice guidelines released in May 2004.

"Both programmes were generally consistent with these guidelines. However the evaluations identify areas where practice could be improved, such as through a higher level of monitoring of offenders plans, keeping victims better informed of progress and ensuring informed consent when the victim chooses not to participate, and having more staff supervision and training.

“The government supports the use of restorative justice but any expansion needs to be both gradual and deliberate. At each stage it should be accompanied by robust assessment and evaluation of its effectiveness.

"A court-referred restorative justice process is also being piloted in the Waitakere, Auckland City, Hamilton and Dunedin District Courts.

"An evaluation of that pilot will be released in the coming months, and will also contribute to the future development of restorative justice," Mr Goff said.

The reports, The Wanganui Community-Managed Restorative Justice Programme: An Evaluation, and The Rotorua Second Chance Community-Managed Restorative Justice Programme: An Evaluation, are both available online at: www.justice.govt.nz.

ENDS

All Phil Goff’s media releases and speeches are posted at www.beehive.govt.nz

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