Using restorative justice approaches to police domestic violence and abuse

Author: 

Westmarland, Nicole; McGlynn, Clare; Humphreys, Clarissa

Publication date: 

5th Aug 2018

The use of restorative justice in cases of domestic abuse is highly controversial. While little is known about how restorative approaches are used by the police, recent research shows they are used on a widespread basis to respond to domestic abuse throughout England and Wales (Westmarland et al, 2018). This study delves deeper, to look at 62 cases within one police force. Qualitative police data extracted from force systems were analysed to discover in what type of domestic abuse incidents restorative approaches are used, and what type of approaches are used. We argue that while the language of restorative justice was used, the spirit of restorative justice was often missing. In some cases, the police seem to be using the language of restorative justice to respond to cases they do not think would benefit from further criminal justice intervention (a ‘new NFA’ (No Further Action)). We conclude that further differentiation between different forms of domestic abuse and different forms of restorative approach is needed to enable a more informed conversation. Further, it is essential that the domestic abuse sector work more closely with restorative justice communities in order to more safely and more appropriately consider the challenges and opportunities that restorative approaches may offer.

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