Cross-border Seminar Encourages Restorative Justice Approaches for Young Offenders.
Youth Justice Agencies from North and south of Ireland came together in Dundalk on Thursday, 1st October to promote Restorative Justice as an effective intervention for young people who come into conflict with the law.
Agencies including the Police Service of Northern Ireland, An Garda Siochána, Northern Ireland Alternatives, Youth Justice Agency NI and Le Chéile Mentoring & Youth Justice Support Services led the seminar, which brought together justice agencies and practitioners from north and south of Ireland. The event follows the groundbreaking all island Restorative Connections conference which aimed to develop a roadmap across the island of Ireland and draws together the statutory, voluntary and community responses to both offenders and victims in a forum which provides the opportunity to share experience and develop future practices.
Restorative Justice focuses on the rehabilitation of offenders through reconciliation with victims and the community at large, repairing the harm done. It is a victim sensitive approach to criminal offending.
Assistant Director of the Youth Justice Agency NI Yvonne Adair said, “We welcome the opportunity to lead and participate in this seminar, fulfilling a commitment arising from the all island Restorative Connections conference.. Listening to and learning from those who have been directly involved is an important element in the restorative process and I am pleased that we will be able to experience that through the voices of both practitioners and young people associated with the Youth Justice Agency.”
Mary Henihan of Le Chéile praised the seminar as a commitment to RJ as a way forward for youth justice in both north and south of the island, “It has been so refreshing to hear practitioners come to Dundalk today to share their experiences of using restorative justice in practice. The key message today is to trust the process and be open to providing young people, families and victims with the opportunity to engage with restorative justice.”
Sergeant Lee Russell of the PSNI said that, “The PSNI believes that Restorative Justice is a progressive way of dealing with young people. The fact that it deals with victims, offender and community, means that it provides a fair and holistic approach to dealing with crime and anti-social behaviour.”