An empirical study of the needs, experiences and position of victims within restorative justice practices

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).

Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Ivo Aertsen

Co-supervisor:  Dr. Inge Vanfraechem 

Duration: 22 months (01/01/2011– 31/10/2012)

Funders: European Commission and the European Forum for Restorative Justice

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 deal with questions at both micro- and macro-level.
At the micro-level, the focus 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 are 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 are studied, in order to better understand the orientation on victim issues. 
This project 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.

The project also resulted in the book “Victims and Restorative Justice” (2015), edited by Inge Vanfraechem, Daniela Bolívar Fernández and Ivo Aertsen.

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