Source: (1998) Ottawa: Research and Evaluation Branch, Community, Contract and Aboriginal Policing Services Directorate, Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Downloaded 2 February 2005.

A widespread movement to develop alternative ways of delivering justice in society is taking place across a broad range of countries. Most commonly referred to as Restorative Justice, or Community Justice, the movement has recently become the subject of increasing interest from governments and sectors of the justice system, including the police. Canada has been well represented in the development of restorative justice in terms of past practice and recent innovation. As part of the re-orientation of policing to community policing, the RCMP and the OPP as well as other police forces and components of the Canadian justice system have recently begun to embrace a much more active role in restorative justice. As key components of the justice system, the police have a central gate-keeping role through their exercise of discretionary decision-making. For many the current justice system is seen as failing to reduce crime and to attend to the needs of victims, offenders or the community, but while many claims have been made about the ability of restorative justice to address these issues, there has also been criticism about its limitations, and concern about the wholesale adoption of restorative practices particularly by the police. The purpose of this report is to set these initiatives in the context of the development of restorative justice practices in Canada and elsewhere. It considers the historical development of restorative justice ideas, the underlying philosophy and goals of the movement and the characteristics of the main practices; the development of restorative practices in Canada and current initiatives; the benefits and limitations of restorative justice; and some of the wider issues concerning the role of the police in the use of restorative justice, particularly at the pre-charge stage. (excerpt)

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