Source: (2006) In, Crime Policy in Europe, Council of Europe, Strasbourg: Council of Europe Publishing pp. 75-84
“Victim-offender mediation became widely accepted as a method for dealing with less serious offences, often in the sphere of small property or violent delinquency, committed by young offenders who do not have a marked criminal record. Although regulation at a supranational level, on the one hand, does not exclude mediation for different types of cases at all stages of the criminal justice process, it might, on the other hand, formulate guidelines rather cautiously in this respect. Nevertheless, comparative research confirms the minor degree of seriousness of offences in victim-offender mediation in most European and other countries. Whether an offence is considered to be ‘serious’ can depend on different criteria, such as the legal qualification, sentencing policies and jurisprudence, the violent character of the facts, the consequences for the victim and the (expected) reaction by public opinion. The general feeling of reluctance towards the idea of mediation in serious cases refers to the character of ‘a favour’ which is often given to this measure. It can be observed in judicial decision making after a failure in mediation, where the prosecutors tend to issue a summons although often not legally required. However, mediators witness that participation in a mediation process is not at all a soft option, not even for minor crimes. And they also refer to the needs of the victim as a starting point for mediation, whatever the legal qualification of judicial stage of the case might be. One could even expect a more important need for victims in cases of serious crimes, hoping to receive information and explanation from the offender.