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Victims and their justice motives in a restorative intervention

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Victim-offender dialogue as transformative for victims of crime

Victims play a significant role in an innovative approach to responding to crime that aims to raise awareness for a safer society.

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When victims of crime participate in a restorative intervention, they are taking an active role in the aftermath of a crime. In seeking empowerment and serving their own needs, they are at the same time trying to build a safer society. VICTIMS AND RJ (Victims and their justice motives in a restorative intervention) is an EU-funded project that looked at the reasons victims of crime are participating in a restorative justice (RJ) intervention. In such a practice, the victim and the offender of a particular crime are invited to communicate with each other . That is, provided they agree and the offender is willing to take responsibility for the crime. With the aid of a mediator, they take part in a dialogue. Victim-offender mediation and conferencing are restorative practices used globally in response to property crime and crime against a person. They can be crimes committed by a young or adult offender. These interventions take place in addition to or instead of conventional criminal justice proceedings and decision making. Research has shown that RJ surpasses criminal justice proceedings when it comes to meeting victim needs for expression and closure, especially in the case of a serious crime. Although confrontation of this sort is hard on the victim, the willingness is still there. The project delved into the intricacies at work and the motives involved. Respondents were recruited from Belgium and the United Kingdom, which use different judicial regimes, and they were interviewed at the start and at the end of the restorative intervention. Differences in motives for participation between Belgian and English respondents were minimal. One of the most important findings was that victims appreciated the opportunity to communicate with their offender. By doing so, they were able to obtain better perceptions of justice for themselves as well as for the offender and society. Research findings have been disseminated to RJ practitioners in workshops in Belgium and the United Kingdom as well as to academic audiences through conferences and meetings. As a result of this study, insight regarding why RJ matters to crime victims can be better understood. RJ allows them to transform suffering into something constructive for themselves and others.


Victims, crime, restorative intervention, restorative justice, victim-offender mediation

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