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Criminal justice

Making Catch22 a restorative organisation

A group of adults are sitting in rows listening to a presentation. One person has their hand raised to ask a question of the presenter, who is pointing towards them to invite them to speak.

In a new blog for Restorative Justice week, Charlotte Calkin, Director of the Restorative Engagement Forum, tells us about her work training our justice teams on restorative approaches.

I’ve been working with Catch22 for about 18 months in a variety of capacities. I teach restorative justice (RJ) facilitator training at basic and advanced skills (Levels 2 and 3). I also work with the whole of the Social Justice directive delivering training in restorative practice (RP). I’m also an executive coach and often I work with teams delivering restorative practice and one-to-one coaching. The work ties in perfectly with Catch 22’s values and, in particular, “being more human.”

What is the difference between restorative justice and restorative practice?

Most people ask at the beginning of the training what the difference is between restorative justice and restorative practice and why I deliver the restorative practice training for three days over three months, when the restorative justice training takes place over three consecutive days.

Restorative justice is part of restorative practice, and restorative justice is a set of practical skills used widely within the Criminal Justice System and schools to help heal harm in a whole range of ways. Training involves learning about rigorous risk assessments and practising these new skills, which needs to be carried out over three days. I’ve been a restorative justice facilitator for ten years, working on every possible type of case, from neighbourhood to homicide, and witnessed first-hand the remarkable healing effects that a restorative intervention can have.

Restorative practice however, is a way of being: it’s the principles that lie behind restorative. The course is delivered over one day a month because it gives the teams an opportunity to try things out in between the sessions. They are taught how to hold restorative interventions, how to hold restorative team meetings and how to express themselves in the most effective way. Fundamentally, it’s about relational work, how we are in relation to others, and it’s about making our workplaces nicer places to be. Restorative practice helps us all to use our voice as effectively as possible and in my feedback forms the word that repeatedly appears is “empowering.”

Having a voice and using it effectively is something I passionately believe in and I am so delighted to have brought this work to so many teams. The teams have also found it incredibly effective with their clients and some have even fundamentally changed their interview processes as a result of learning these techniques. One team member told me that she analysed the interviews which had used restorative techniques compared to those that hadn’t, and that the information and content from the restorative interviews was far deeper and richer and more productive for both her and the client.

I use a whole host of techniques to bring together all the principles of restorative, using transactional analysis, appreciative inquiry, coaching skills, alongside a range of restorative techniques.

The principles of restorative practice are:

  • fair process,
  • giving everyone a voice – and working in a no shame/no blame environment,
  • using the restorative questions,
  • working ‘with’, and
  • accountability.

Fundamentally, most of the organisations I work with have vertical management structures and my work is about creating a horizontal communication environment within a vertical structure.

Catch22 is way ahead of the curve in introducing this work. It is very commonly used in schools and children’s services and, indeed, whole cities are becoming restorative: it is widely used in Sheffield and Hull, for example. But organisations are behind the curve and Catch22 is showing real initiative and foresight in introducing restorative to its workforce. Restorative approaches are here to stay; HR teams are now recognising that the old ways of doing things are not really appropriate in the current climate and I receive roughly a call a week enquiring about this “new restorative thing”!

– Charlotte Calkin