Restorative justice is a rehabilitative alternative to custody, providing a forum for victim redress. It is a model where victims of crime and those who committed the offence can communicate with each other through a voluntary and facilitated process.

The scheme’s objective is to implement ‘‘a robust restorative justice model of practice, providing an alternative to a prison sentence of less than 12 months’ duration’’, according to a document seen by this newspaper.

The expansion will test the existing scheme’s ability to manage up to 100 adult offenders in Tipperary and Limerick, and up to 300 in Dublin. The Dublin expansion will involve minimal additional funding, while the Tipperary/ Limerick expansion will cost at least an additional €65,000 in funding services within the 2010 allocation.

....The expansion of the scheme will be monitored by the Probation Service, which will report on its effectiveness and value for money after 12 months. Existing projects will facilitate testing of the type of offender and offences that best suit the model.

The government believes that the usefulness of this model must be tested not only on a value-for money basis but on the take up of other options, such as community service and fines.

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