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Incentive for insincerity – pre-sentence restorative justice: in whose interests?

Gareth Jones (Halton and Warrington Youth Offending Service, Cheshire UK and Association of Youth Offending Services Managers (AYM), Cheshire, UK)
Sean Creaney (Applied Social Sciences, Stockport College, Stockport, UK AND Trustee of the National Association for Youth Justice (NAYJ), UK)

Safer Communities

ISSN: 1757-8043

Article publication date: 13 July 2015




The purpose of the paper is twofold. First it examines the use of restorative practices in the Youth Justice System. Second the paper seeks to critically assess the benefits of Restorative Justice (RJ) at the pre-sentence stage in England and Wales, particularly in terms of its ethical and practical application.


The paper takes the form of a conceptual analysis. The authors draw principally on the experiences of a small scale pilot into the use of pre-sentence RJ and data from in-depth interviews with one of the pilot sites. A snapshot survey and discussions with a Youth Offending Team piloting pre-sentence RJ was also undertaken.


The authors find that the level of personal involvement of victims in RJ has fallen short of expectations. The authors note that if there is to be reduced stress and trauma for victims participation needs to be independent of coercion or reward. Offenders who are lacking in sincerity should not be coerced or pressured into accepting pre-sentence RJ as this could, despite benign intents, exacerbate feelings of anger and distress for victims. The authors also note the importance of practitioners being properly trained in RJ conferencing as they have a fundamental part to play in mitigating against some of the potential risks.

Practical implications

The paper identifies issues and ambiguities with pre-sentence RJ and examines in detail the complexities of working in such an environment. The paper will be of use to local and potentially national decision makers and commissioners of RJ programmes.


The authors explore the under researched concept and delivery of pre-sentence RJ.



The authors are indebted to colleagues across the Restorative Justice world in England who have assisted in advice, discussions, opinions and guidance. However, in particular the authors want to extend thanks to Victim Support, Restorative Solutions and the Restorative Justice Council to whom we are grateful for the advice and guidance provided. Colleagues from the Association of Youth Offending Team Managers were also generous in their time, support and information to assist the study. The authors would like to thank Ali Wigzell, University of Cambridge, for her very important comments and observations on an earlier draft and openness, honesty and inspirational passion for Restorative Justice. The authors would also like to extend the thanks to Graham Smyth, Manchester Metropolitan University, for reading through various drafts of the paper and providing expert guidance. All the errors in the paper are the responsibility of the authors despite our best intent to be perfect!


Jones, G. and Creaney, S. (2015), "Incentive for insincerity – pre-sentence restorative justice: in whose interests?", Safer Communities, Vol. 14 No. 3, pp. 126-137.



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Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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