In 2003 the European Forum for Restorative Justice (EFRJ) obtained a non-recurrent funding from the AGIS programme of the European Commission to work on two topics: the training of mediation practitioners on the one hand, and the training of legal practitioners in restorative justice on the other hand. In the framework of the project, two very concrete instruments were developed: recommendations on the training of mediators and a training course for prosecutors and judges on restorative justice.
During the seminar in which the recommendations on the trainings of mediators were drawn up, it became clear that these recommendations needed more discussion. It was said that this discussion could be combined with another area in which action was needed: the training of trainers. It was agreed at the seminar that a summer school could provide a valuable opportunity to focus on training and sharing good practice. A working party was formed at the EFRJ conference in Budapest in October 2004 to take forward the idea of a summer school.
The purpose of the summer school is threefold:
- To provide a supportive environment for trainers and mediators to share their experiences of training modules and methodical skills in mediation.
- To explore and adopt the recommendations on training programmes put forward in the AGIS project.
- To motivate trainers and mediators to have more international exchange.
The Second International Summer School of the European Forum for Restorative Justice (EFRJ) was held in the Graduate School of Law in Riga, Latvia from Wednesday 27 June 2007 to Sunday 1st July 2007. The event was organised for the EFRJ in conjunction with the Latvian Probation Service, Sacro (a Scottish NGO), the Criminal Justice Social Work Development Centre based at University of Edinburgh, the Waage Institute in Hannover.
Niall Kearney (Sacro & the University of Edinburgh) facilitated the first day on support and supervision; Ivo Aertsen (KUL) facilitated the second day on programme development, evaluation and training; Frauke Petzold and Dr Lutz Netzig (Waage Institute) facilitated the third day on mediation in domestic violence – chances and borders.
As the implementation of restorative justice was progressively expanding in numbers and in scope, and the attention received from policy makers increased, ensuring quality of practice was one of the most recurring concerns (notorious/salient/pitfall/priority/themes) of the international restorative justice scene. As announced by the title of this Summer School edition, holding a critical approach and being ready to question our own practice can be seen as the starting point. Departing from that, alongside training, supervision, the support from the academia appears to provide an indispensable support to assess quality and evolve further. Indeed, it is widely agreed that research and evaluation are crucial to restorative justice, hence a close collaboration between practitioners and researchers is of utmost importance for practice to improve and to gain legitimacy. Not surprisingly strengthening/streamlining/fostering this collaboration falls under the objectives of the European Forum for Restorative Justice.
The fourth summer school of the European Forum for Restorative Justice (EFRJ) took place in Canterbury, Kent from 11 to 15 July 2011. The summer school was organised on behalf of the EFRJ by the Kent Youth Offending Team, the Waage Institut in Hannover, and the Staffordshire and West Midlands Probation Service. The third day of the Summer School was organised in co-operation with the Restorative Justice Council (RJC) for England and Wales and included the attendance of HRH, Princess Anne, who is patron of the RJC.
The importance of engaging effectively with both victims and offenders while remaining in role of RJ facilitator is always a fertile area for study and discussion. The idea of focussing on this area within an international summer school setting attended by people from all over Europe and beyond has once again proved to be very effective and supportive