Justice Minister announces review of community based Restorative Justice work

Date published: 28 February 2022

Justice Minister Naomi Long today launched a Review of the 2007 Protocol, which governs the work of Community Based Restorative Justice (CBRJ) organisations.

The review will be taken forward by an independent three-person panel consisting of Professor Tim Chapman, Dr Neil Jarman and Judith Gillespie, all of whom have a wealth of knowledge in respect of the criminal justice system and community based restorative practice.  It will be a 3 month review commencing on 28 February 2022 until 31 May 2022.

Minister Long said: “In recent years, we have seen significant growth in the use of restorative practices in Northern Ireland – both within the criminal justice system and beyond it. This growth has been driven by the desire to better meet the needs of victims of crime and to provide redress for the harm caused to them, as well as to find an effective alternative to punitive responses and establish positive ways of dealing with children, young people and adults when incidents occur.

 “The current protocol governing the work of community based restorative justice organisations in Northern Ireland is over 14 years old and the time is right to reflect on the delivery of restorative practice over this period, to build on the positive work that has been undertaken by community based organisations and put in place a revised protocol to help support the further growth of restorative practises over the next decade.”

The Minister added: “I am extremely grateful to former Deputy Chief Constable Judith Gillespie, Dr Neil Jarman, and Professor Tim Chapman for agreeing to take this review forward.  Between them they will bring a wealth of much needed knowledge and expertise to this very important piece of work.”

 The Review will also seek input from key stakeholder groups including the Police Service of Northern Ireland, the Public Prosecution Service, Criminal

Justice Inspection Northern Ireland, the Department of Justice, the Youth Justice Agency, the Probation Board for Northern Ireland, The Northern Ireland Housing Executive, the Department for Communities, Victim Support Northern Ireland, The Executive Office, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and the two current accredited restorative justice organisations, Northern Ireland Alternatives and Community Restorative Justice Ireland. 

Notes to editors: 

1. In 2007 a protocol was put in place to govern relations between the NI Criminal Justice System and the community-based restorative justice schemes. As the scheme had been in place for over 14 years, views were sought on the adequacy of the Protocol within the consultation on the development of an Adult Restorative Justice Strategy for Northern Ireland. A clear view emerged that a review of the Protocol and its operation should be carried out with the aim of increasing appropriate referrals from statutory bodies and expanding the work of restorative practice generally.

2. Pen Pictures

Professor Tim Chapman

 Tim Chapman spent 25 years working in the Probation Service in Northern Ireland. He lectured for 10 years at Ulster University in Northern Ireland developing and directing the Masters programme in Restorative Practices. During that time, he has trained hundreds of people to become restorative practitioners including those working in community based restorative justice projects. He has published widely on restorative justice and has conducted significant research into community based restorative justice and intercultural conflict in Northern Ireland. He is currently researching the experiences of victims who have participated in restorative processes addressing serious harm. He is chair of the Board of the European Forum for Restorative Justice and Visiting Professor at the University of Strathclyde and the University of Sassari.

Judith Gillespie

 Judith Gillespie grew up in North Belfast.  She joined the RUC GC in 1982, and was the first woman in the history of the RUC/PSNI to become an Assistant Chief Constable in May 2004. 

A graduate of the FBI National Executive Institute, she became Deputy Chief Constable in 2009, was awarded an OBE in the Birthday Honours in June of the same year, an Honorary Doctorate from Queen's University Belfast in July 2012, and a CBE in the Birthday Honours in June 2014.  She was a Chief Officer in PSNI for 11 years, helping to lead the organisation through significant change.

On leaving PSNI in March 2014 she became an independent leadership advisor, championing the cause of vulnerable victims and survivors.  She served on the Equality Commission from 2015-2020, the Probation Board for Northern Ireland from 2015-2022, and from 2016-20 on the Garda Policing Authority in Dublin.  She chairs the Inter Departmental Working Group on Mother and Baby Homes, Magdalene Laundries and Historical Clerical Child Abuse, and is a member of the Prison Service Pay Review Body.

 Dr Neil Jarman

 Neil Jarman is an anthropologist by training with a PhD from University College London. He was previously the director of the Institute for Conflict Research and a Research Fellow at the Senator George J Mitchell Institute for Global Peace Security and Justice at Queen’s University Belfast.  He has undertaken research and policy work in Northern Ireland on such issues as parades; inter-communal violence; policing and police reform; restorative justice; hate crime; human trafficking and forced labour. 

3. Media enquiries should be directed to the Department of Justice Press Office via email at press.office@justice-ni.gov.uk

4. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours’ service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted out of hours on 028 9037 8110.

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