Source: (2006) Papers presented at the Fourth Conference of the European Forum for Restorative Justice, “Restorative justice: An agenda for Europe”, Barcelona, Spain, 15-17 June 2006.

The development of restorative justice in Northern Ireland is set in the context of a history of violent civil conflict and the contested nature of the relationship between the state and local communities. The peace process has included a fundamental review of criminal justice. One of its conclusions was to develop restorative justice for young people who commit criminal offences. In Northern Ireland there is a thriving community restorative justice sector. However, its relationship with the state sector is problematic due political issues over policing. The Police Service for Northern Ireland use restorative processes for the cautioning of young people. More recently the Youth Conference Service, part of the Youth Justice Agency, has been established to provide youth conferences for young people who have persisted in their offending. Youth conferences include the young person responsible for the harm, his or her family and supporters, the person who has been harmed, his or her supporters, a police officer and a youth conference co-ordinator. Only the most serious criminal offences (e.g. murder) are excluded from conferences. As long as the young person consents, a conference is held in almost every case in Northern Ireland. (excerpt)