IPRT - Irish Penal Reform Trust

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NI: 'Evaluation of the Northern Ireland Youth Conference Service'

31st October 2005

Northern Ireland operates restorative justice practices in youth justice. This is done by way of family group conferencing with the involvement of the victim. A youth conference occurs where the offender meets with the stakeholders to the crime, including the victim if they wish to be there, and they discuss the impact of the crime.

Following this, a plan is made as to how to address the offending behaviour. The offender must agree to the plan in order for it to go ahead. Subject to certain exceptions, a court is required under legislation to direct a juvenile offender to a youth conference.

Research findings have shown the success of this approach, both victims and offenders have stated positive feedback from its use.

  • 69% of these conferences had a victim or victim representative present;
  • Victims expressed overwhelming satisfaction with the conference approach, with only 11% stating that they would have preferred to go to court.

The approach is also noted to have a positive effect on recidivism rates.

To read the report click here.