Restorative Processes at HMP Forest Bank
June 30, 2023
HMP Forest bank adopted restorative approaches and restorative justice as a fundamental element of their day-to-day operation, with the principles being applied in a wide variety of situations to address conflict and differences of opinion.
Restorative processes bring together those harmed by crime or conflict and those responsible for the harm into facilitated communication. This enables everyone affected by a particular incident to play a part in repairing the harm and finding a positive way forward.
Using both interventions, the prison has been able to diffuse tensions between prisoners and improve prisoner / officer relationships, avoiding escalation to potentially violent incidents while creating a safer working & living environment.
The restorative approach (RA) process is used within HMP Forest Bank to help resolve conflict between prisoners, and prisoners and staff. Restorative Approaches helps to create a safer environment, helps give people the opportunity to have their say, and helps to find a way forward and resolve issues. The RA team in HMP Forest Bank consist of both staff and prisoners who are individually selected and trained to facilitate meetings.
Restorative Justice (RJ) is a tried and tested way of bringing people into communication to discuss how they have been affected following a crime, and repair the harm caused.
Victims will often have questions that are un-answered, causing anxiety or stress. Sometimes the only person that can answer the questions is the one responsible for the harm caused. RJ can take many forms, including face-to-face conferences and letters.
So often we hear of people becoming involved in a life of crime due to circumstances, peer pressure or desperation, but rarely do we hear of the constructive benefits that addressing the impacts on the victim can have in the rehabilitative process. Furthermore findings from an evaluation commissioned by the MOJ states that restorative Justice is known to reduce reoffending rates by 14%. A large part of this is likely to be because the offenders may not have ever had to face the consequences of their actions before.
Forest bank is proud to be demonstrating both the challenges and the enormous benefits of implementing restorative approaches into the prison.
“I would like to thank the RA Champion for his intervention. I had issues with someone on the wing and he brought us both together to talk. We agreed the argument was silly and shook hands. Thank you again.” Participant of RA
“Straight away I felt at ease. I felt heard and was given plenty of opportunities to explain my actions and how it made me feel. Most importantly for me, was the victims’ feelings and peace of mind going forward. I would like to thank the team for a positive and pro-social experience. I learnt that my actions have the propensity to cause harm, sorrow, and loss to innocent individuals.” Participant of RJ
“I am fully committed to RA and have completed the training myself; I believe the process works. I am confident that we can use RA effectively to deal with conflicts and prevent them from escalating into violence.” Wing Manager, HMP Forest Bank.