79. While it is a well established concept in youth justice, restorative justice for adults is sometimes viewed as an afterthought to sentencing. We are looking at how we might change this so that in appropriate cases restorative justice is a fundamental part of the sentencing process. Firstly, this is likely to involve using restorative approaches as a better alternative to formal criminal justice action for low level offenders where the offender and victim agree the outcome such as apologising, replacing stolen items, or making good any damage caused. This is a more effective punishment than a simple caution, and builds on local approaches already used by the police, usually described as “neighbourhood resolution”.
80. Secondly, in instances where a court case is likely to lead to a fine or community sentence, we will explore how it could best be used at the charging stage. Here, restoration would be delivered as part of an out-ofcourt disposal, for example as a condition attached to a conditional caution. This could result in the offender paying compensation to the victim, or making good their offence in other ways determined by the victim. This could prevent distress to the victim and deliver a suitable punishment.
81. Thirdly, restorative conferences carried out pre-sentence for offenders who admit guilt and who agree to participate, could be reported to the court with the victim’s consent as part of pre-sentence reports. They could therefore inform the court’s decision about the type or severity of sentence handed down. In some cases, and for some offences, sentencing could be deferred pending successful completion of actions agreed.