Reparation and Victim-Focused Social Work

Edited by Brian Williams.
Jessica Kingsley Publishers
ISBN 1843100231

Last year, when reviewing Restoring Respect for
, I said that the proponents of restorative justice had
made their point and what was now required was some more critically
minded discussion of this new approach in practice. Step forward
Reparation and Victim-Focused Social Work, a collection of
10 essays on initiatives to better serve the interests of victims
of crime.

The book looks at evaluations of restorative-type interventions,
discusses the issues for victim-focused work and identifies gaps,
problems and dilemmas in current practice.

The inquisitive style of the book is exemplified by Jim
Dignan’s chapter on reparation orders. Although one objective
of this new disposition is to meet victims’ needs,
Dignan’s and colleagues’ research suggests that work
has focused mainly on offenders as fewer than one in four orders
involve mediation with or direct reparation to a victim.

Dignan says: “The evaluation confirms that, while the
reparation order has helped to establish some basic elements of a
restorative justice approach…the context and manner it
operates in is still largely shaped by the traditional criminal
justice process.”

David Porteous is lecturer and research fellow in
applied social studies, University of Luton

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