Conferencing: A way forward for restorative justice in Europe


Promoter: European Forum for Restorative Justice

Funders: European Commission and the European Forum for Restorative Justice

Partners: Leuven Institute for Criminology ( Belgium ), National Institute of Criminal Sciences and Criminology ( Belgium ), University of Sheffield ( UK ), Youth Justice Agency Northern Ireland ( UK ), Eigen Kracht Centrale ( Netherlands )

Researchers : Estelle Zinsstag (100%)

Duration: 26 months (31/12/2008 – 28/02/2011)

Summary of project:

This two-year project consists of an exploratory study of conferencing practices, for both adult and young offenders and for low and high level crimes, and their further applicability within Europe . The two researchers, supported by a steering group composed of both academics and practitioners, will focus their work on three main research questions:

  • To what extent has conferencing been developed internationally?
  • What are the processes used in and outcomes achieved by conferencing, and how do they compare to victim offender mediation (VOM)?
  • How could conferencing practices be developed further in Europe ?

As this is the first study on this specific topic in Europe, the information will be gathered not only by conducting an extensive literature review but also by doing surveys, interviews and study visits. The project will also include an international conference (June 2010, 300 participants) and an expert workshop (September 2010, 40 participants) in order to get feedback on the preliminary results.

First a comprehensive inventory, review and database will be developed taking into account existing and emerging practices of conferencing. The study will focus on conferencing practices which are related to crime and will assess their processes as well as outcomes. Furthermore the study will compare conferences with the more widespread VOM. In addition a detailed bibliography will be developed. The last part of the study will explicitly focus on the challenges when implementing conferencing in a continental European legal and socio-cultural context and will propose new avenues for its further development in a European context.
The research project will result in a scientific report as well as a practical guide on setting up conferencing programmes in Europe. The latter will include information on the different models and the conditions that have to be met for their successful implementation.

The report of the expert seminar which took place on 14, 15 and 16 September 2010 can be found here.
The final report can be found here.
The toolkit can be found here.

For comments, feedback or further information, please contact the secretariat.