Source: (2001) London: Home Office Research, Development and Statistics Directorate

This report reviewed the development and provision of restorative justice (RJ) programs in 12 European jurisdictions, so as to compare and contrast the often diverse ways RJ had been deployed, while indicating some of the common features of successful RJ programs; practical and legal issues were linked to the wider theoretical debates about the role and effectiveness of RJ. In each case, this review summarized the provision of restorative justice under four thematic headings: legal base, scope, implementation, and evaluation. The European jurisdictions involved in the study were in the countries of Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Slovenia, and Spain. Other European jurisdictions included in the study were Ireland, Italy, Russia, and Sweden. Attention was also given to the common law jurisdictions of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States. A summary of program characteristics focused on the main characteristics of 26 discrete RJ or victim-offender mediation programs currently operating in the 12 European jurisdictions. Findings showed considerable heterogeneity. These differences were not merely contingent on the subsisting legal culture or the pragmatic choices about the best way of running a RJ or a victim-offender mediation program, but rather flowed from ideological assumptions about the nature of unwanted conflicts and the way in which communities should respond to them. Factors related to program success were a strong and sustained impetus for reform, a common ideology among those pressing for action, open-mindedness and the political will of successive governments, attention to practical detail in the formulation and implementation of the chosen interventions, a combined and continuing effort on the part of all relevant agencies, sound financial planning and support, inclusiveness, and supervision by a responsible coordinating agency.