Federal Statistics of Victim-Offender-Mediation in Germany

Article excerpt

Abstract

The article describes the federal statistics on Victim-Offender-Mediation (VOM) cases in Germany. The statistics exist from 1993 and contain information on more than 30,000 VOM-cases, victims and offenders. The article describes the history of the statistics, philosophy, aims, and methodology with detailed information about the kind of information collected. The structure of the data and the technical realization of data collection and analysis procedures are also discussed. Additional paragraphs introduce the reader to the relationships between the organisers of the statistics and the practitioners, the dissemination of the results, and the costs of the statistics. Finally the relevance for developments at a European level is considered.

Key Words: Victim Offender Mediation (VOM) in Germany, Evaluation of Victim Offender Mediation (VOM), Victim Offender Mediation statistics, Evaluative research, Restorative Justice in Germany, Evaluation of Restorative Justice programmes

Introduction

The article describes the Federal Statistics of Victim-Offender-Mediation (VOM) in Germany (Taeter-Opfer-Ausgleich-Statistik). Widi these statistics we can answer questions like: who are the victims that are ready to take part in a mediation session with the offender; who are the offenders that are offered mediation instead of a criminal sanction; are VOM cases successful with violent offences; what is the type of settlements and compensations victims and offenders agree on? Data from more than 30,000 cases have been collected and analysed within this scheme. Some results can be found in Hartmann/Kerner (2002 )1. This essay deals with the history, the philosophy, some methodological and technical aspects of this statistics and ends with suggestions for a European Joint Data Recording System.

History

Forming the Idea

The practical implementation of Victim-Offender-Mediation (VOM) in Germany commenced in the year 1985. The first projects were evaluated over a period of about four years. In 1990 the evaluated model phase came to an end in almost all projects. The results of the evaluations were consistent in many aspects but there were also clear differences (see the reports of Kuhn (1989), Schreckling (1990), and Hartmann (1995)). Unfortunately the data collected for the evaluation of the model projects were too different to analyse them in comparison to each other, giving rise to the idea of a standardised and comparable evaluation.

Forming the "VOM Research-Group in Germany"

The idea became more practical during a workshop on VOM in II Ciocco, Italy, in 1991 when some participants met in a pizzeria in Pisa. Back in Germany these researchers were able to convince the chairs at the institutes where they were working of the value of the planned project, starting the ongoing scholarly collaborative efforts of the VOM Research Group in Germany [=Forschungsgruppe Taeter-Opfer- Ausgleich]. Core members of this group are, in alphabetical order: Britta Bannenberg, University of Bielefeld; Dieter Doelling, University of Heidelberg; Arthur Hartmann, University of Applied Sciences in Public Administration Bremen; Wolfgang Heinz, University of Konstanz; Hans-Juergen Kerner, University of Tuebingen; Dieter Roessner, University of Marburg; Elmar G. M. Weitekamp, University of Tuebingen). Data collection and analysis of the Federal VOM statistics has been done for several years almost completely at the Institute of Criminology of the University of Tuebingen (e-mail: hans-juergen.kerner@uni-tuebingen.de).

The project also had the support of the then newly formed Service Bureau of VOM (email: info@toa-servicebuero.de), because its manager then M.Wandrey sat at the table in Pisa. The starting year was 1993 with 43 projects taking part. All German VOM-projects were and still are invited to join.

Funding by "Volkswagen Stiftung" and The "Federal Ministry of Justice"

The research group was able to win the support and necessary funding of the "Volkswagen Stiftung" (The Volkswagen Foundation). …