Ideas and Practice
The main focus of this book is the application of restorative practice in schools, though it is as relevant to criminal justice practitioners. This Introduction is intended to provide readers who are new to the restorative justice field with a brief overview of the historical development of restorative practice and restorative justice theory, including recent restorative justice developments within youth justice in England and Wales. This account of the wide range of restorative justice initiatives under way will, it is hoped, provide readers with the confidence to press forward in developing their own practice, based on the practical skills covered in the remainder of this book.
However, this book is set in a wider context – it has been written following a great deal of experience with restorative practice in many countries, and many settings. The evidence validates that restorative approaches do work very well, even in extreme cases. Mark Yantzi's (1998) pioneering work in the field of sexual offending and restoration is strong testimony to this, as is the experience in the United States of restorative justice in murder cases (Umbreit 2002), and New Zealand's experience of family group conferencing with serious and persistent offenders (Levine et al. undated). Consequently, after 25 years of experience, practitioners and policy makers should not be asking the question 'Does this work?' but 'How do we make this work here?' The unique contribution of this book to the field is that it describes precisely how to go about implementing a range of restorative practices to a high standard, without underestimating the difficulties that are often faced.