I believe that this book could soon become a critically important restorative justice text, and deservedly so. It should prove valuable to both newcomers to restorative practice, and to experienced practitioners. There are many excellent books about restorative justice available; however, the key focus of this book is entirely different – it is a book about the values, and skills, that underpin all restorative practice. Furthermore, this book explores how individuals within communities can transform their daily interactions for the positive, so that all can feel more valued, as well as how they deal with the inevitable conflicts that will occur. Belinda has chosen to demonstrate how this transformation can be achieved within a school community, but the principles and techniques described are equally applicable to other organisations. The true importance of this book is that it sets down, in a readily accessible style and format, how any community can begin to change how they interact with one another, and deal with conflict in a socially inclusive manner.
This book has been written close to 25 years after the first restorative justice projects were pioneered in criminal justice. Since these first projects were developed in the mid to late 1970s in Canada and North America, the range and breadth of restorative justice practice has grown significantly. These projects were attempting to introduce an entirely different way of working within the criminal justice system. The methods developed valued empowerment, communication and repair. It quickly became recognised that many victims need to be listened to and to have their say (often to the person responsible for the harm done), and that many offenders, given the opportunity, were willing to meet the people harmed by their actions, to talk through the impact of their actions and accept responsibility to do something to put things right as best they could. Rather than offenders being passive recipients of sentencing outcomes, and victims sidelined to appearing as trial witnesses (if needed), restorative ap