Source: (2005) Criminal Justice. 5(3):279-317.

In many jurisdictions it is increasingly recognized that police complaints systems should contain a mixture of formal and less formal procedures, as well as allow for a variety of outcomes including remedial and punitive ones. Recent changes to the system for handling complaints against the police in England and Wales envisage an expanded role for local (informal) resolution, with a new range of options including restorative justice conferences. Yet little is known about whether complainants would welcome the option of a restorative justice conference or whether restorative processes would constitute an improvement on conventional practices. This article presents the results of a Nuffield Foundation funded study of these issues carried out in 2002–3 in two police force areas. The findings suggest that restorative processes can achieve moderately better results than conventional processes. While widespread implementation of this new approach is likely to prove problematic for many police services, a flexible approach to introducing changes, drawing on the experience of restorative practitioners in related areas, is likely to benefit complainants without creating dissatisfaction among police officers. (authors' abstract)