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The implementation of restorative justice policy: a case study of one police force in England and Wales

STOCKDALE, KELLY,JANE (2015) The implementation of restorative justice policy: a case study of one police force in England and Wales. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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The implementation and subsequent embedding of restorative justice across a police force is fraught with difficulties, including cultural barriers to reform, structural barriers including management and hierarchy, and practical barriers for those officers tasked with ‘doing’ restorative justice within the confines of traditional criminal justice processes. There is also a lack of consistent understanding across a police force in relation to what restorative justice entails, and as to the key values and principles that underpin it.
This thesis analyses the implementation process of restorative justice across one police force in England and Wales. The study sought to understand the key opportunities, constraints and limitations with regards to the implementation of restorative justice policy. It further explored understandings of restorative justice across the force. The force was observed over an eighteen month period from July 2012 to December 2013; access was given to documents, crime recording systems, and other relevant data. Four focus groups were conducted with thirty one participants representing frontline officers from different commands across all four force localities. A further ten interviews were conducted, eight with managers who were members of the restorative justice steering group, one with the Chief Constable and one with the newly-elected Police and Crime Commissioner.
The research found evidence of a ‘continuum of understanding’ demonstrating the subtle differences in the ways in which different ranking officers conceptualise restorative justice. The research also identifies some of the key barriers to successful implementation. These factors included a top down implementation process which neglected the role of the community, and failed to empower officers or offer them meaningful involvement in the implementation prompting resistance both from frontline workers and middle management. It also found a great deal of confusion due to mixed messages, and a lack of concrete details which left many officers unable to fully understand and utilise restorative processes. Certain factors were also identified which helped to propel the implementation process. These included strong leadership and a small but significant culture shift across the organisation. The findings of this research are relevant beyond the police force that was the subject of the research and contain important lessons in terms of the roll out of new policy initiatives.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Police; policing; restorative justice; policy implementation
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Applied Social Sciences, School of
Thesis Date:2015
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:27 Nov 2015 09:50

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