How restorative is English justice? Restorative justice in England and Wales: progress, opportunities and pitfalls

version 8.2.2007

The European Union’s Framework Decision of 15 March 2001 called on member states to promote mediation in appropriate criminal cases, to ensure that any such agreement between victim and offender can be taken into account, and to implement this through laws, regulations and administrative provisions by 22 March 2006. If I were drafting the British government’s response, this is what I would have said. First I will outline the system for juvenile offenders in England and Wales, and the little that is being done for adult offenders and their victims (the system in Scotland and Northern Ireland is different). I will give some examples of progress, some opportunities for the development of restorative justice, and some of the pitfalls that it faces. Finally I will suggest some criteria by which restorative processes could be assessed, from the point of view of victims, offenders, the community, quality assurance, and cases where a fully restorative process is not possible..

The system in England and Wales


Most of the restorative justice work in England is with juveniles. In 1998 a network of Youth Offending Teams was created, known as YOTs; their job is to provide the services required by the youth court, both custodial and in the community, and also to undertake preventive work. This includes running the Youth Offender Panels, which we shall come to in a moment. Their staff is drawn not only from the police and probation services, but also from health and education, recognising the part which drugs, alcohol, mental illness and school failure play in contributing to crime1. They are overseen by a national Youth Justice Board. They are not, however, fully funded centrally.

Perhaps the simplest way to outline the present system in England and Wales is to give an imaginary case history of a young offender, whom we will call Tony.

Tony is 16 years old, and has been caught stealing from a shop. He has done something similar before, and on that occasion the police gave him a reprimand. This time he has his last chance: a final warning. In fact it is more than a warning: the police refer the young person to the YOT team, which makes a rehabilitation programme, or change programme, for him. Final warning programmes are voluntary: there is no penalty for non-cooperation, but it will be used against an offender if they then offend again.

In some police areas, the warning is ‘restorative’, meaning that offenders are encouraged to think of the consequences for their victim, not for themselves; that is, instead of trying to terrify and humiliate the young person, threatening him with serious punishment if he re-offends, it stresses the harm caused to the victim as well as to his own family and to himself. If the victim is present, it is called a ‘restorative conference’2; more commonly a ‘proxy’ speaks on the victim’s behalf. This was pioneered by Charles Pollard (now Sir Charles), when he was the chief constable of Thames Valley Police. He publicized the new method very effectively, to the extent that many people gained the impression that restorative justice was a new idea, and that this was ‘the’ way to use it. In the early stages practice did not always correspond with the restorative ideal (Hoyle et al. 2002), and doubts have been expressed as to whether police officers can be perceived as neutral facilitators.

Youth court

Referral orders.

Unfortunately Tony got himself into trouble again before his eighteenth birthday. He had already had his last chance of a warning, so he must appear before the Youth Court. But as this is his first appearance in court, the court has to make a referral order, because he has pleaded guilty and the offence was neither trivial nor serious enough for a custodial sentence. This means that he appears, with one or both of his parents, before the youth offender panel.

The most widely used restorative measure is the referral order for juveniles. The fact that courts are compelled to impose them (except in cases that are not serious enough or too serious) has ensured that they are well used. The procedure is only partly restorative, because decision-making is in the hands of the panel, not the victim and the offender. Panels are however expected to give the victim some say in reparation. The structure is within the youth justice system, although there are moves to form an association of panel members, which would give them a degree of independence.

Each YOT has one of these panels, from which two are selected for each session to sit with one member of the YOT staff. Youth offender panel members are volunteers from the community. Their training includes little on restorative justice, however; the emphasis given to it depends largely on the interest or otherwise of the YOT manager. I know of a couple of cases where a volunteer knew more about restorative justice, and was more enthusiastic about it, than the manager; it did not make for a good working relationship. A new edition of the training pack, Panel Matters, includes a whole day on the principles of restorative justice, and the whole panel process is now presented in restorative terms throughout the training. The vision of panels is now more akin to restorative conferences – with a possible alternative script for cases where there is no victim.

One of the volunteers chairs the session. In a small but increasing number of cases the victim also takes part. The offender can ask for someone who seems likely to be helpful to attend, but this does not often happen. The aim is not to decide on a punishment, but on a plan for his future behaviour, which may include reparation.

Usually that will be the end of the story, because the number of 10- to 17-year-olds cautioned or convicted between 1992 and 2001 (before and after the new system) fell by 21 per cent. But if Tony commits another offence, and is caught, he must go back to the youth court, and this time the possibilities include some form of supervision in the community – or custody.

In theory, there is always the option of victim involvement and restorative justice of some kind. There could be tighter guidelines for supervision orders, reparation orders and action plan orders to include elements of restorative justice if at all possible but in practice they have not been widely used. This is entirely dependent, currently, on the activities of the victim liaison officers in the YOTS – if they are diligent and sufficiently resourced, they will have seen the victim early on and engaged them; then restorative activities will be included in case planning.

In the legislation, victim-offender dialogue is not part of the decision-making process. In some places, which have a better understanding of restorative justice principles, the YOT has got round this by persuading the court to make an ‘open’ order: the court decides only the length, and the victim and offender can play a real part in deciding on appropriate reparation. But they shouldn’t have to get round it: the law should be amended.

Many YOT staff come from a background and training focused on work with offenders, and do not feel comfortable dealing with victims. Some YOTs have appointed a victim liaison officer to make sure that victims are kept informed and to explain restorative justice. They include victims’ views in all pre-sentence reports – but at this stage there has been no victim-offender meeting. In these areas a much higher percentage of victims takes part; but the number is still lower than it should be because of the requirement to hold a panel within 15 or at most 20 working days, rather than at the victim’s convenience.

Under the Victims Code of Practice, YOTS are beginning to be closely monitored for resources devoted to victim and restorative justice work. They will soon be required to record why they are not offering restorative justice to a victim and offender of a particular offence.


Conditional cautioning

There is an opportunity for restorative justice for adults in a new measure: conditional cautioning, introduced in April 2006 under the Criminal Justice Act 2003 (sec. 22-27). The idea is that in some cases a caution, with conditions aimed at rehabilitating the offender or ensuring that he or she makes reparation, could be more in the public interest than prosecution. The reparation could begin with a dialogue between the victim and the offender.

Unlike some other recent restorative measures, conditional cautions are being introduced cautiously: in one division of each police service by Spring 2007, and nationwide by Spring 2008. But although restorative justice is a possibility, there is no requirement to consider it, and it is only being used in two areas, Thames Valley and West Mercia. There are various disincentives to its use. If the police were to do it in-house, that would use staff time; in one area there is a non-governmental agency to which referrals can be made, but no arrangements for the money saved by cutting court costs to be transferred to pay for them. Police efficiency is measured by the time it takes to complete a case, so restorative justice is unpopular because it takes longer. The constraints are not only statutory and administrative; before prosecutors can refer cases to mediation, there must be a mediation service to which to refer them. This is a challenge for the voluntary sector. As always, it comes up against the problem of funding, where there is another administrative problem: a mechanism is required, which need not be complex, by which if court costs, and especially prison costs, were saved by channelling the offender to a mediation service, a proportion of the savings would be transferred to meet the costs of the service.

Victim enquiry work

For offenders serving 12 months or more for sexual or violent offences, an officer from the Probation Victim Liaison Service (VLO) contacts the victim before the offender is released. The officer can provide information, and ask for conditions to be inserted into the release plan, for example to live in a probation hostel, not to contact the victim, or a curfew with electronic monitoring. Under the Criminal Justice Act 2003, extended supervision is possible after release. There are some staff trained in restorative justice, and this could provide an opportunity for the victim to ask for direct or indirect mediation before the offender’s release; there have been cases where this has happened and has been helpful to both parties, for example in cases of causing death by dangerous driving, but it is not widespread. Restorative justice is not within their remit and they are understaffed and overworked. Where the offender is a juvenile, VLOs may work in partnership with probation and enable restorative justice to take place, but where the offender is an adult, restorative justice will only now happen in exceptional cases.


The most encouraging aspect is that those who are committed to restorative justice are maintaining their enthusiasm, and there is good peer support among practitioners. By degrees news of how it can work is spreading. It does not necessarily take the form of formal face-to-face meetings.

One 16-yr-old girl (this is a real case) was in the habit of drinking too much, then assaulting police officers who tried to help her. It was agreed that she would make reparation by doing some community service, and she agreed to tidy the garden in front of the police station. Police officers chatted to her as they went in and out; one woman police constable picked up the information that she lived with her dad, and they ate only take-away food because neither of them knew how to cook. So it was arranged that she would do the rest of her hours in the police canteen, where she learnt to cook spaghetti bolognese. Whether they now live on that, or she has extended her repertoire, I don’t know!

Useful work is being done in some specialist fields. In Manchester, for example, AIM (Assessment, Intervention and Moving on).is working with adolescent sex offenders, especially within families. The project started early in 2006, with the NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children). It covers 10 local authorities in Greater Manchester, with a population of 2.6 million. Each LA has its own YOT, with representatives of police, probation, health, social work and education. The family group meeting (FGM) is considered the best approach. Most of these young people offend against members of their own family or community.Restorative justice is well suited to working with them, because it is not confrontational, it recognises the young person’s strengths, and helps to build social competence and emotional literacy (Mercer 2006).

There has also been pioneering work with the use of restorative methods in place of criminalizing, in schools and in neighbourhood conflicts (in England and elsewhere) and domestic violence (notably in Austria); and after sentence in cases of rape and sexual assault (in Denmark) and homicide (especially in the United States).

Restorative justice aims to restore everyone involved, including the offender. ‘Circles of support and accountability’ are groups of trained volunteers who meet regularly with sex offenders who have undertaken therapy while in prison, after their release, and help them with any problems such as accommodation, work, the media, hostility from members of the community – or loneliness.


A number of opportunities are waiting to be taken. Perhaps the biggest is that the government could recognise that restorative justice is precisely the way to achieve its aim of ‘rebalancing the system in favour of the victim’: it gives the victim the opportunity to be heard, and also to ask the offender questions; the victim is more likely to receive an apology, and less likely to be afraid of being re-victimized. Both victims and offenders have greater respect for the criminal justice system. There are possibilities for promoting the use of restorative justice if its advocates can demonstrate its advantages. This should be easier, as the Youth Justice Board is proposing to amend its targets, so that instead of merely offering 75 per cent of victims of youth crimes the opportunity to participate, which might mean no more than a formal letter, they will aim to ensure that in relevant cases 30 per cent actually do participate in restorative processes. This includes direct restorative processes (face-to-face meetings or conferences) and indirect ones (using a go-between, tape recordings, videos, and so on). The target for the proportion who are satisfied or very satisfied will be raised to 85%.

Prosecutors also have the potential to make more use of restorative justice. The Code for Crown Prosecutors (2000, section 6.5(h)) says that a prosecution is less likely to be needed if the defendant has put right the loss or harm that was caused (although merely paying compensation should not be a way of avoiding prosecution). However, prosecutors cannot be expected to organize mediations or conferences themselves, so there is a need for a nationwide network of mediation services to whom the work can be referred – and a system for paying for them. There are no comparable performance criteria for prosecutors.


Restorative justice is not yet as widely understood as it should be. On one hand there is punitiveness: people who think that giving the offender a ‘ticking off’ in front of the victim is restorative justice. On the other are YOT workers who are accustomed to working with offenders and uncomfortable with victims. This is not helped by a high turnover of YOT staff in some places, so that there is a constant need to train new staff in restorative principles. The punitive attitudes also show themselves in the choice of inappropriate so-called reparative tasks, selected because they are unpleasant rather than to show the young person that he or she has a valuable contribution to make.

The former head of the Restorative Justice Consortium, Debra Clothier, points out that the National Offender Management Service and the Youth Justice Board do not have meeting the needs of victims as one of their statutory duties. YOTs, and the pilot areas for conditional cautions, are not given extra resources to work with victims (Clothier, 2006). It should not however be necessary to find extra resources if restorative justice were used instead of other measures, rather than as add-ons. If the police divert cases, they save prosecutors’ time, if prosecutors divert cases, they save court time, if courts use non-custodial measures in place of custodial ones they save the expensive and counter-productive use of prison. Once again, what is needed is a system for transferring the funds.

Towards a restorative system

What would a restorative system look like? There are aspects which concern victims, offenders, or both, and the community. A general concern is the need for quality assurance; and we need to ask what can be done if a fully restorative process is not possible?

For victims

In a restorative system it is important to remember that in most cases of crimes by strangers the offender is not caught. The victim’s needs should still be looked after. In Britain this is largely done by Victim Support, and the state compensates many of those who suffer criminal injuries. In many cases, however, the victim and offender are known to each other, and they do not always want a criminal prosecution because it would damage or even break their relationship; so it should be possible to refer cases to a community mediation centre without involving the police or the criminal justice system at all, if they wish. There are still, however, many places where no mediation centre has yet been established.

Maximum community involvement is another way of saying minimum state intervention, which usually goes hand-in-hand with maximum cost effectiveness, and with the use of restorative methods at the earliest stages of the process

As restorative justice is not yet widely known, it should be well explained to victims. Initial contact should therefore be made by trained mediators; this is still often not the case. They should, among other things, be able to explain direct and indirect mediation and conferencing, so that they can make an informed decision whether and how to take part.

A performance indicator would therefore be the percentage of victims contacted by a trained mediator. The proportion agreeing to mediation should also be recorded, although this should not aim at 100 per cent, because some victims may choose not to participate and should not be pressured into doing so.

For offenders

It should be self-evident that if people, especially young people, are expected to show respect to others, they should be treated in the same way (although this does not seem to be understood by some politicians and journalists). This is not precisely measurable, but one indication could be to ask offenders whether they considered the process fair; another could be whether they were invited to bring a supporter or a person whom the panel considers to be capable of having a good influence on him or her.

At its best a restorative agreement is completed voluntarily, but when they are not, enforcement will be needed. This too should be carried out in a restorative way: the offender should be given the opportunity to explain if their circumstances have changed, and the terms renegotiated if necessary. If there is no such explanation, the offender should be given a choice: complete the agreement or return to court. This is one more way of encouraging them to take responsibility for their own actions.

For both victims and offenders

Participation for victims should of course be voluntary. It is usually said that the same applies to offenders (see for example United Nations 2002, Annex, article 7: ‘restorative processes should only be used …with the free and voluntary consent of the victim and the offender’). There are two reservations, however. If offenders have to participate or be taken to court, they have a choice, but it is not entirely voluntary. It can also be argued that they did not give their victims a choice, and therefore should not have one themselves (Guy Masters, personal communication). This is the situation with referral orders in England, and family group conferences in New Zealand, where it does not appear to have provoked complaints.

It is widely accepted that lawyers should not take a part in the mediation session itself. It could be argued that since the outcome of the process is reparation, not punishment, the involvement of lawyers is not necessary if it takes place instead of a trial. The parties’ interests can be safeguarded by mediators or, if the case goes to court, the judge. However, even judges are subject to an appeals mechanism and there should be a grievance procedure—which should include the offer of mediation at an early stage. Incorrect procedure could leave either party with a sense of injustice; it seems right therefore that there should be access to lawyers before and after the process—but not during it. These should of course have received training in restorative principles, and their services should be available to those who cannot afford their fees.

Details which seem small can be important. One model of conferencing makes refreshments an essential part of the process, to set the seal on the agreement reached – and as a way of filling the pause while a fair copy of the agreement is being prepared. Sharing food and drink is a very symbolic act, and it is worth considering including this as a part of normal practice.

The question of measurement arises again. Record keeping is essential. We need to monitor the percentage of cases leading to mediation or a conference. As mentioned above, we should not aim at 100 per cent, because participants may not be willing, or there may be other reasons for not proceeding; but it is reasonable to expect a high proportion. Similarly with the percentage of agreements reached, and then fulfilled. If the parties do not agree, it may be because the victim has unrealistic expectations or the offender unco-operative, or it may be a reflection on the quality of the mediation. If an agreement is not fulfilled, the offender’s circumstances may have changed; but there should also be an assessment of whether the community has done enough to enable him or her to achieve it.

For the community

We need to consider what the community requires of restorative justice, and what its contribution should be to make sure that restorative justice is delivered. From the point of view of the community, restorativists would naturally argue that as many cases as possible should be dealt with restoratively. Eligibility should therefore be as wide as possible: both adult and juvenile offenders, and offences of all degrees of seriousness, except those where the effect on the victim is not serious enough to warrant the time and effort of arranging a mediation. It has been suggested that one criterion for evaluating restorative justice should be the diversion of cases from unnecessary imprisonment (Immarigeon 2004).

A restorative justice programme can also be assessed by the extent of community involvement, at several levels. Conferencing is one form of community participation, because the friends and family of the victim and the offender are members of the community. Members of the community can also be mediators (voluntary or paid an honorarium); or the mediation service can be provided by an NGO. This can cross the boundary between criminal and civil cases: in cases arising out of a dispute, the response can be to bring the parties together for mediation, so that they can try to resolve the dispute rather than criminalize it. Where mediation is organized in-house by a criminal justice agency, it is desirable to have a management committee, or at least an advisory committee, including members of the community as well as professionals.

Although it would not be possible for the volunteers and members of committees to represent the community, they should as far as possible reflect it; the degree to which they do so can be shown by comparing the proportion of ethnic (or in some cases linguistic or religious) groups among volunteers, management and participants with the proportion in the local population3. These figures should be given in the annual report of each service.

As indicated above, restorative justice should not be left to the professionals. Members of the community have a part to play in providing the soil in which it can grow. This may mean individuals, for example Victim Support volunteers who support victims, employers who provide employment so that offenders can earn money to pay compensation; organizations (voluntary, commercial or statutory) that provide opportunities for offenders to make reparation; and rehabilitative resources provided by NGOs, or by the community in the shape of the local authority. This combination of support and accountability enables offenders to earn reintegration into the community, and should be a part of any assessment of restorativeness.

Restorative justice has a special potential for prevention. Because of its informal procedure, the offender has an incentive to bring everything into the open to ‘wipe the slate clean’, and can give an explanation of the pressures towards crime in a way which does not sound as if they are mere excuses. In some cases this has led to preventative action, for example by asking why a particular school was producing so many delinquents, or showing a retail shop how it could improve its security. In one programme, the Zwelethemba model in South Africa, for every case dealt with, a sum of money is put into a ‘peacebuilding’ fund, which can be used to create employment or improve amenities (Froestad and Shearing 2006: 546-550).

Taking the long view, children at school can be introduced to restorative principles for handling not only conflicts but decisions and relationships in general. A growing number of schools are introducing peer mediation and similar methods. They focus on ‘building and repairing relationships rather than on managing and controlling behaviour’ (Hopkins 2004: 29), and this is surely the way to a self-reliant and respectful society.

For quality assurance

Having made its contribution, what can the community ask for, as evidence that restorative justice should be supported? The first point that occurs to most people is that re-offending should be reduced, and any new offences should be less serious and less frequent. Restorativists would argue that while this is desirable, and there is growing evidence that it happens (Restorative Justice Consortium 2006; Sherman and Strang 2007), other criteria are at least as important, especially victim satisfaction. Offenders’ feelings of being fairly treated are also important, if we hope to increase their respect for justice. Evidence of attitude change on the part of offenders would also be welcome.

A fully restorative system needs to be able to show that it is working to improve its quality. It will have routine monitoring built in to its system. No training or policy can cover every situation that may arise, so it can be helpful to have a committee on policy and practice in each service to decide how to resolve similar situations in accordance with restorative principles. A simple way of ensuring accountability is by producing an annual report, showing how these criteria have been fulfilled

It is helpful if there is a national umbrella body to which mediation services and individual mediators can turn for information and support, especially if they are employed in a part of the criminal justice system that has a different ethos. An organization of this kind can promote restorative justice values and practice standards, especially by providing or accrediting training of mediators, managers, and criminal justice personnel. It can also spread information to professionals, politicians, the media and the public.

For cases where a fully restorative process is not possible

There are several reasons why a fully restorative process may not be possible in a particular case. The first is that the accused denies any involvement. Restorative procedures are not designed to determine facts, so in case of denial, the accusation must be tested in court. However, it is not necessary for the accused to admit guilt, only involvement as a person who may have contributed to causing harm to the victim. Because a restorative process does not necessarily lead to a conviction, it is likely that the prospect of a restorative process will make the accused more willing to admit involvement, as has been reported from New Zealand, where the new procedure encouraged young people to accept responsibility, rather than denying it and challenging the prosecution to prove it (McElrea 1998). This could also modify the culture amongst defence lawyers, who commonly advise their clients to stonewall all questioning by saying ‘No comment’. If this leads to a conviction the offender is worse off; if it leads to acquittal on a technicality, the offender learns nothing and the victim is left feeling aggrieved; but if the offender admits fault but not guilt, hears the victim’s perspective, undertakes to make reparation, and does not acquire a conviction, that could be the most satisfactory outcome for all concerned.

If the victim does not wish to take part, but the offender is willing, it should be possible for the offender to make amends to the community. In this way an indifferent or even vindictive victim could not insist on an offender being punished instead of being allowed to make amends. If it is considered that there might be physical or psychological danger at a face-to-face meeting (although this is very rare), an indirect dialogue could be held; reparation might include work for the community, a letter of apology, or other suitable tasks. There are various permutations (serious offence with little chance of repetition and vice versa, and so on); but let us take one of the most difficult: a serious offence with a serious likelihood of repetition. If the offence is non-violent, community restrictions such as prohibition from driving or from running a company might be sufficient, combined with a reparative measure. If the offence was violent, detention may be unavoidable, but in a restorative system this would be only for protection of the public, not for punishment or to deter others. Even in those cases, it should be possible for offenders to spend their time on any reparative activities that can be organized in prison, whether making or repairing things such as wheelchairs, or making things that can be sold in aid of charities, or simply working to make money with which to pay compensation.

There remains the question of how long they should be detained for; until they are assessed as no longer a threat to others, or for a period proportionate to the harm they have caused to the victim, or something between the two.

Conclusions and recommendations

To sum up, some moves have been made, in legislation4 and practice, to bring in some restorative measures in England and Wales, especially for juvenile offenders and their victims; there is very little for the victims of adult offenders. The only such measure which courts are obliged to impose in specified juvenile cases, the referral order, has restorative features but is some way from the ideal. At a recent meeting of practitioners I took a straw poll, asking whether restorative practice in England and Wales was poor, fair or good. Most of this admittedly unrepresentative sample thought that it was mainly ‘poor’, but making progress towards ‘fair’. What is encouraging is the continuing enthusiasm of those who are working for the restorative ideal, the development of restorative methods in schools, the sense of fairness among offenders and above all the high level of satisfaction among victims. With amendments to legislation making restorative measures the norm, a programme of training, arrangements for transfer of resources encouraging the development of a nationwide network of mediation centres, and a programme of professional and public education, we could have what the German jurist Gustav Radbruch asked for: not a better criminal law, but something better than criminal law.

I am grateful to Deirdre Leask for helpful comments, but responsibility is of course mine.


Clothier, D (2006) ‘Restorative justice: what’s that, then?’ Criminal Justice Matters, (65), Autumn, 18-19, 34.

Crown Prosecution Service (2000) The code for crown prosecutors. London: CPS;

Froestad, J, and C Shearing (2006) ‘Conflict resolution in South Africa: a case study.’ In: G Johnstone and D W Van Ness, eds. Handbook of restorative justice. Cullompton: Willan.

Healthcare Commission (2006) A review of healthcare in the community for young people who offend. Quoted in The Guardian Society, 1 November, p. 3;

Hopkins, B (2004) Just schools: a whole school approach to restorative justice. London: Jessica Kingsley.

Immarigeon, R (2004) ‘’What is the place of punishment and imprisonment in restorative justice?’ In: H Zehr and B Toews, eds. Critical issues in restorative justice. Monsey NY: Criminal Justice Press, and Cullompton, Devon: Willan Publishing.

McElrea, F W M (1998) ‘The New Zealand model of family group conferences’. Paper to international symposium ‘Beyond prisons: best practices along the criminal justice process’, Kingston, Ontario, Canada.

Mercer, V (2006) ‘The AIM Project: restorative meetings and sexually harmful behaviour.’ Lecture notes, April 2006,

Restorative Justice Consortium (2006) Restorative justice works! The positive effect of restorative processes on re-offending. London: the Consortium.

Sherman, L W and H Strang (2007)Restorative Justice: the evidence
London: Smith Institute.

United Nations (2002) Basic principles on the use of restorative justice programmes in criminal matters. Economic and social council, 2002/12. (Reprinted in D Van Ness and K H Strong, Restoring justice: an introduction to restorative justice. 3rd ed. Philadelphia PA:: LexisNexis, 2006).

1 In 2006, however, one YOT in six had no health worker, and one in three had no mental health worker (Healthcare Commission 2006)

2 At this conference, there may be only the young person, the victim or proxy, and the facilitator (if the young person is under 16, a parent or guardian must be present, but over that age this is not a requirement). This is different from the ‘family group conference’, at which a larger group of family and supporters are encouraged to be present.

3 As far as ascertainable without intrusive questioning.

4 The Criminal Justice Act 2003 provides for an ‘activity requirement’. This may ‘consist of or include activities whose purpose is that of reparation, such as activities involving contact between offenders and persons affected by their offences’ (sec. 201(2)). For offenders aged 16 or over this may be included in a community order (sec. 177(1)(b)), licence conditions for release from prison (sec. 182(1)(b)), intermittent custody (sec. 183(1)(b)(ii)), a suspended sentence order (sec. 190(1)(b)), deferment of sentence (sec. 278 and Schedule 23 (amending the Sentencing Act sec. 1(1)(a)).