Restorative Justice

at post-sentencing level supporting and protecting victims

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Improving Knowledge and Practice of Restorative Justice

A Comparative Research Study on Restorative Justice


(Prof. Dr. Mario Nahrwold, Prof. Dr. Lode Walgrave, Prof. Dr. Otmar Hagemann, Minister of Justice Schleswig-Holstein Emil Schmalfuß, Jo Tein; Foto: Joachim Welding)



01/10/2010 – 30/09/2012



Schleswig-Holstein Association for Social Responsibility in Criminal Justice, Victim and Offender Treatment


Ministry of Justice Schleswig-Holstein

Kiel University of Applied Sciences

Thames Valley Probation (UK)

Baltic Institute for Crime Prevention and Social Rehabilitation (Estonia)

Justice Service of the Ministry of Justice and Public Administration (Hungary)

Associates Partners:

The European Organisation for Probation (Netherlands)

City Council Archangelsk (Russia)

European Forum for RJ (Belgium)

Summary of project:

Since Article 10 of the Framework Decision 2001/200/JHA of the EU all member states are obliged to introduce Restorative Justice (RJ) programs. However, methods, actual developments, outcomes and the extent of evaluation vary within the EU. Facing this picture of RJ, there is a demand for research on effective methods of RJ for offences, offenders and victims. This question is crucial for legitimating and promoting RJ in jurisdictions all over Europe. It is therefore intended to involve science, GOs and NGOs from different parts of Europe in an analysis of the practical state of RJ and in the mutual development of a future RJ-concept.

Research Aims:

  • Improve Knowledge in the field of Restorative Justice – Gain information on the implementation and application of RJ-Methods, as well as raise awareness amongst relevant actors and the general society.

  • Identify effective measures and best practices in partner countries – Find out which measures are suitable and most effective for which cases.
  • Improve the implementation of instruments in Schleswig-Holstein and the partner countries. Implementation does not always equal application to its greatest potential.

  • Strengthen cooperation between the judicial system and social work agencies.

This comparative research project seeks to identify the current state of affairs of Restorative Justice Measures in Europe, with particular focus on the partner countries. It is necessary to improve knowledge via international networking and create a whole picture of RJ, in order to produce a thorough RJ-concept. It is also essential to identify effective measures and find out which type of RJ is most suitable for a certain offence, offender and victim. By comparing different practices, such as experiences, legal frameworks, new tools and financial aspects, a basis is formed that shall influence decision making at the management- and political level, as well as help to identify the impact of different jurisdictions and concepts. Therefore, a focus will be on applied professional standards and procedures. Another important part of the project will be to strengthen cooperation between relevant actors and eliminate existing obstacles.

Thus, qualitative improvement shall be reached through the identification of best practices, the best time of application (prior or post-sentencing), specific practices and needs, as well as the involvement of various actors/agencies. The quantitative goal is to achieve higher referral rates. This can only be reached through learning from each other and by informing the general public to increase knowledge and appreciation of Restorative Justice. To reach that goal, positive Media representation of the RJ paradigm and its practices are a basic requirement.

Research Methodology:

Action Research – mainly aims to change everyday practices through an interactive process, rather than focusing solely on theoretical outcomes. It is to involve practitioners in the field, turn them into co-researchers and achieve direct changes, since the limited application of RJ measures is less a problem of theoretical knowledge, but rather facing practical difficulties and a general lack of knowledge. Thus, it is not only to improve practice, but to reach the public.

Appreciative Inquiry – to reach the public and improve the general picture of RJ, it is essential to work out already existing positive practices and develop them further. These strengths are the tool for motivation and ongoing process. The appreciative inquiry approach is opposing critical or negative developmental procedures.

Qualitative Approach – while focusing on the immediate change within the field and the identification of positive aspects within our existing practices, it is to remain open to any kind of new method. To capture those, one of the main approaches is the qualitative collection of data on the status quo of RJ measures in the partner countries through `thick descriptions´ (Clifford Geertz) and `grounded theory´ (Glaser and Strauss).

Research Instruments:

Homepage to foster active international exchange and cooperation.

Three international conferences to encourage discussion, improve knowledge and raise awareness. Each conference concentrates on a specific topic.

Study visits to merge theory and practice. Several practitioners have the possibility to observe Victim-Offender Mediation and Conferences in the partner countries to receive the best possible insight into different practices, which shall also gain as a basis for discussion.



With the financial support from the Criminal Justice Programme of the European Union. The contents of this publication are the sole responsibilty of "Schleswig-Holsteinischer Verband für soziale Strafrechtpflege; Straffälligen- und Opferhilfe e.V" and can in no way be taken to refect the views of the European Commission.