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Policing and Restorative Justice: Where are we headed?

Martin, Margaret E
June 4, 2015

Source: (2004) Papers presented at the Third Conference of the European Forum for Victim-Offender Mediation and Restorative Justice, ‘Restorative Justice in Europe: Where are we heading?’, Budapest, Hungary, 14-16 October. Downloaded 22 September 2005.

Policing is a largely abandoned area of interest in relation to restorative justice theory and practice. Most
restorative justice advocates’ attention focuses on persons already processed in the justice system. For the
offenders they seek alternative approaches to punishment and retribution, for the victims restoration. Policing
has a fundamental role in the achievement of justice ideals and it may be implemented in ways that actualize
restorative justice principles.
We understand that policing certainly invokes the law to apprehend and cite lawbreakers, beginning the formal
process of charging, prosecuting and trying. Police also engage in other behaviours that maintain order, provide
emergency assistance for a host of social problems, promote safety, and prevent crime. Policy dictates police
behaviour. It may eliminate or promote discretion, promote the interests of capital or community concerns,
differentially target non-dominant groups or develop collective responses to solving problems. In ethos and
practice there is compatibility between ideals of restorative justice and the practice of policing, however,
practical constraints in police organization, state mandates and community democratic mechanisms challenge
the ability of police to undertake restorative praxis. (excerpt)


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