Victims and Restorative Justice: An empirical study of the needs, experiences and position of victims within restorative justice practices


Promoter: European Forum for Restorative Justice
Funders: European Commission and the European Forum for Restorative Justice
Partners: Leuven Institute for Criminology (LINC, Leuven, Belgium), National Institute of Criminal Sciences and Criminology (NICC, Brussels, Belgium), National Research Institute of Legal Policy (NRILP, Helsinki, Finland), National Institute for Health and Welfare (NIHW, Helsinki, Finland), University of Helsinki (Finland), Institute for the Sociology of Law and Criminology (IRKS, Vienna, Austria), Neustart (Vienna, Austria), International Victimology Institute Tilburg (Intervict, the Netherlands), Victim in Focus (Slachtoffer in Beeld, Utrecht, the Netherlands).
The project runs in cooperation with Victim Support Europe (VSE).
Duration: 22 months (01/01/2011– 31/10/2012)
Researchers: Daniela Bolivar (coordinator), Dr. Päivi Honkatukia (NRILP), Dr. Christa Pelikan (IRKS) and Dr. Antony Pemberton, with Kim Lens and Malini Laxminarayan (INTERVICT)

Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Ivo Aertsen (supervisor) and Dr. Inge Vanfraechem (co-supervisor)
Summary of the project:

The general objective of the project is to achieve more knowledge, through empirical evidence, on the needs, experiences and position of victims when participating in restorative justice (RJ) programmes. The development of RJ has led to some questions with regard to the position of the victim and therefore this project will deal with questions at both micro- and macro-level.
At the micro-level, the focus will lie with the personal experience of the victim regarding the offer of mediation, the experience of communicating with the offender in an (in)direct way, the mediation outcome and the judicial context. Interviews will be done in Austria, Finland and the Netherlands with victims who have participated in a ‘successful’ mediation; victims who participated in a mediation process that stopped; and victims who have been offered mediation but for whom the process has not started.
At the macro-level, the legislative, organisational and institutional framework of victim-offender mediation and conferencing will be studied, in order to better understand the orientation on victim issues. Furthermore, an online survey will be carried out for restorative justice programmes and victim support services throughout Europe.
Interim results will be discussed during regional workshops in Austria, Finland and the Netherlands (February 2012) and at an international conference in Finland (Helsinki, 14-16 June 2012).
This project will lead to a better understanding of the needs, experiences and position of victims in victim-offender mediation and conferencing and will formulate recommendations with regard to the further development of restorative justice practices as well as the cooperation between restorative justice programmes and victim support organisations.

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

The research report of this project can be downloaded here. The project also resulted in the book “Victims and Restorative Justice” (2015), edited by Inge Vanfraechem, Daniela Bolívar Fernández and Ivo Aertsen. Find here more info.