The principles of restorative justice are already used in parts of the youth justice system, and the YJB has committed to ‘placing restorative justice at the heart of the youth justice system’.75 But the use of restorative interventions remains piecemeal. There are very few dedicated restorative justice practitioners, and the training of YOT staff to run restorative panels is relatively shallow. The numbers of victims attending restorative justice panels are low, as is the level of public awareness about this kind of work.78 A strong investment into restorative justice practices could mainstream the approach and make it a more integral part of the youth justice system. This could lead not only to higher satisfaction levels among victims of crime, but also to positive results for the offenders engaged in the process. Practices of restorative justice could be adopted in places such as schools and residential care homes for diversionary purposes, to avoid contact with the criminal justice system where there are better ways to address offending behaviour.
Local authorities could also try out new approaches to community and restorative justice. One example that is currently being explored is peer panels. These function like a restorative conference that brings together the young offender and victims or representatives of the local community, together with young people that have been trained to facilitate sessions and decide on restorative actions. Such panels have a history of use in the United States, and are currently being piloted in Preston, Lancashire.