Creating wellbeing and transcending deprivation through appropriate and effective use of restorative practice

Submitting Institution

University of Hull

Unit of Assessment


Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Studies In Human Society: Policy and Administration
Law and Legal Studies: Law

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Summary of the impact

Hull City Council is deploying Restorative Practices (RPs) to transform the lives and experiences of children and young people. This has resulted in and continues to achieve significant reductions in youth offending, improvements in educational attainment, and higher levels of well-being and happiness. Research conducted by Gerry Johnstone and his research team has enabled service providers to use RPs more effectively to achieve their goals, resulting in enhanced personal well-being, more appropriate behaviour, and a strengthening of personal responsibility amongst young people in Hull.

Underpinning research

Gerry Johnstone conducted fundamental research analysing the ideas and values of restorative justice between 2001-12 (references 1, 2 and 3). This body of research broke new ground by systematically elucidating and analysing the core concepts and principles of the Restorative Justice Movement (RJM), a social movement which aspires to revolutionise society's response to wrongdoing by replacing state punishment with community-based processes which empower wrongdoers to repair the harm they caused. Johnstone's work significantly shaped the agenda of restorative justice studies, in particular by assessing both the feasibility and desirability of the revolution proposed by the RJM and carefully addressing important neglected issues: different models of implementing restorative justice in practice; the problems of integrating restorative interventions with existing criminal justice processes; and the need to specify and state carefully what restorative justice interventions are designed to achieve and how their success might be assessed.

As part of a collaborative research project led by Johnstone and Simon Green (Social Sciences, Hull University) with Lambert (Research Associate, Goodwin Development Trust (GDT)), this research was used to analyse the implementation of RPs in a community based organisation between October 2008 and October 2010. The aim of the project was to study the GDTs `journey with restorative approaches' and to further understand RP and provide recommendations for organisations seeking to use and implement RPs. A key finding of the research (subsequently published: reference 4) was that the GDTs efforts to use RPs in its service delivery were frustrated by lack of an appropriate implementation strategy, but that they did succeed in creating a more collaborative workplace in which employees feel involved in decisions which affect their work.

The next phase of the research commenced in October 2010, when Johnstone and Green entered a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with Hull City Council (HCC) (with Johnstone as academic lead and Green as academic supervisor). The KTP's project was intended to enable HCC to develop an overarching framework to manage, monitor and improve the implementation and embedment of RPs within various services. This framework was based upon the research conducted above and refined in light of local, national and international opinion on the features of a restorative service. In the process of doing this, the team conducted research — using observations, in-depth interviews and focus groups — to explore how different staff groups react to, adapt to and resist the introduction of a new ethos and language within their organisation. From this research, the team developed the concept of restorative cultural capital, which is being looped back into international debates through journal articles published in 2013.

References to the research

1. Johnstone, G. Restorative Justice: Ideas, Values, Debates. 2002. Book. Published by Willan (Cullompton) ISBN 1-903240-42-5.


This book received numerous positive reviews (in both academic and practitioner journals) when published, including a review in the Times Higher Education Supplement. In Scolag, Prof. Peter Duff (Aberdeen) wrote; `For anyone who wants an introduction to current thinking about restorative justice, this book is by far the best I have come across'. It has become a standard reference point in work on restorative justice. Ashworth, von Hirsch and Roberts included an excerpt from the book in the 3rd edition of their text Principled Sentencing: Readings on Theory and Policy (Hart 2009). It is widely cited in the literature in works dealing with both theoretical and practical aspects of restorative justice. A second edition was commissioned (and published in 2011).

2. Johnstone, G. and Van Ness, D. (eds.) Handbook of Restorative Justice. 2007. Edited Book with co-authored chapter and sole-authored chapter. Published by Willan (Cullompton). ISBN 1-84392-150-2.


The opening chapter of this book (which Johnstone co-authored with Daniel Van Ness) is widely cited as a major contribution to thinking about `the meaning of restorative justice'. The book itself is widely regarded as a crucial text. One reviewer, Chris Marshall, described the Handbook as `a superb collection of essays' and `an outstanding resource book that will serve for many years to come as the premiere ... reference work in the field'. In her review for the journal Youth Justice, Prof. Gill McIvor (Stirling) concluded: `'A short review such as this cannot do justice to the range and complexity of ideas and arguments that are presented in the Handbook of Restorative Justice.... an essential reference point'. Routledge are very keen to publish a 2nd edition (correspondence available on request).

3. Johnstone, G., `The Agendas of the Restorative Justice Movement', Sociology of Crime, Law and Deviance, Vol. 11, `Restorative Justice: From Theory to Practice' (JAI Press, 2008), (2008) pp. 59-79. Article


This regularly cited and influential piece is published in volume 11 of the high quality series Sociology of Crime, Law and Deviance. ( This volume contains contributions from a range of leading restorative justice theorists and methodologists, including Kathleen Daly (Griffith). Johnstone was invited to contribute to this as an internationally recognised scholar able to offer a diverse, cross-cultural perspective.

4. Green, S., Johnstone, G., and Lambert, C. `What harm, whose justice: excavating the restorative movement', Contemporary Justice Review, 16(4) (2013). Article


This article develops ideas from our empirical research project conducted in partnership with the Goodwin Development Trust and as part of the KTP. Published towards the end of the assessment period, we are not able to report on its reception. It is published in an international and interdisciplinary journal for scholars, activists and practitioners of restorative justice, published by Taylor & Francis (

Details of the impact

By disseminating research in practitioner oriented outlets and by pro-actively engaging with policy-makers, practitioners and service providers of RP, Johnstone has been able to create opportunities for putting the findings from his academic research into practice. Dissemination of research through papers in practitioner-oriented outlets (e.g. source 1) and presentations at numerous practitioner conferences has helped secure a broader recognition of the importance and practical application of Johnstone's research (these include: `How Communities can be Properly Involved in Delivering Justice', National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders (NACRO), Annual Conference, London, November 2005; `Policy oriented research on restorative justice', COST Action A21 Restorative Justice Developments in Europe, Final Conference, November 2006, Warsaw Academy of Management; `Restorative Justice — Panacea or misunderstood Tool?', International Probation Centenary Conference, Brewery Conference Centre, May 2007; The Challenges facing Restorative Justice in Europe', European Forum for Restorative Justice, Summer School, Barcelona, July 2009). This has created opportunities for direct collaboration with users of RP, ranging from internationally-renowned activists to local practitioners. This approach has helped ensure that Johnstone's research is relevant and accessible to key stakeholders, such as the Youth Justice Board, the Prison Service, Probation Trusts, and Schools.

These general activities created opportunities for specific collaborations with stakeholders and users. In 2008 Johnstone entered into a research partnership with the Goodwin Development Trust with the aim of auditing and evaluating RP in a local context. This research and findings would underpin a report containing practical guidance for the GDT and other organisations wishing to implement restorative approaches in the workplace (see source 2). In particular, the research identified the adverse impact on the use of RP from the absence of an effective implementation strategy. It also identified the importance of securing RP in workplace culture.

Johnstone initiated a KTP with Hull CC with the specific aim of building on the previous findings and helping Hull CC measure and improve the use of RP across the City (source 3). In particular, Johnstone sought to enable `local' practitioners to take advantage of new ways of thinking and techniques about how to handle conflict and troublesome conduct. The research proceeded in three stages. Firstly it sought to ensure its relevance by collecting local data from various services experimenting with RPs and using this to develop a systematic measure of `restorativeness' in Hull. Secondly, it used ideas from Johnstone's general research and experiences of working with other users to create a restorative practices database which would (i) help practitioners and service developers to use RPs appropriately and effectively and (ii) provide tools for management evaluation of the impact this was having. Thirdly, the research ideas and outputs were disseminated amongst local users through over a dozen seminars, workshops and meetings between 2008 and 2010. Key participants and users of the research are service providers in policing, youth justice and schools over a 2 year period.

The ultimate beneficiaries of the research are 57,000 children and young people (and increasingly many adults) in Hull, and professionals working with them. As a result of the research and more effective use of RP, people in Hull are increasingly using restorative language and practices at home, in schools and in other settings. Service and business leaders report that this is resulting in significant reductions in youth offending; reduced truancy, improved attitudes in classrooms and improvements in educational attainment in Hull; higher levels of well-being and happiness, and improvement to internal workplace arrangements (the latter documented in underpinning research, pieces 4 & 5). For example, the business leaders who form the Hull and East Yorkshire Bondholder scheme link the effective and appropriate use of RPs with outcomes such as:

  • a saving in policing costs, with a RP based system for young offenders which cost £259,000 to introduce yielding a saving of £3.5 million;
  • reduced entrants into the Youth Justice System by twice the national average;
  • a 23 per cent reduction in custodial sentencing;
  • school engagement with difficult students and families at 95 per cent, (pre-RP figures were 0-47 per cent);
  • classroom disruptions were reduced by 90 per cent;
  • savings of nearly £60,000 per term in supply teaching costs;
  • anecdotal evidence of improved relationships and healing of rifts between neighbours; (see sources 5 & 6)

These benefits have resulted from the guidance on appropriate and effective use of restorative practices advanced in the research, as informed by robust research into international restorative justice values and principles, and international standards of service delivery.

Sources to corroborate the impact

Source 1: article in practitioner journal
Johnstone, G. (2011) `Towards a cultural placement of restorative justice', Resolution (quarterly
journal of the Restorative Justice Council), Autumn 2011, edition 42.

Source 2: research report
Lambert, C., Johnstone, G., Green, S., and Shipley, R. (2011) Building Restorative Relationships
for the Workplace: A research report with recommendations for organisations seeking to implement
restorative approaches
. Hull: Goodwin Development Trust. (available at goodwin_development_trusts_journey_with_restorative_approaches/ — last accessed 16/10/13).

Source 3: Final Report for Knowledge Transfer Partnership 008056 between the University of Hull and Hull City Council and final report grading letter from the Technology Strategy Board, grading the partnership as `B — Very Good'. Available on request.

Source 4 Consultation Paper
One Hull Children's and Young People's Trust City Wide Strategy — Restorative Practices
Available on request.

Source 5 — Report on website of The Hull and East Yorkshire Bondholder Scheme
Available at (last accessed 19/10/13) (last accessed 16/10/13)

Source 6
Hull Youth Justice Service: Reducing Reoffending Performance Report March 2013
(available on request).

Source 7:
Testimonial from Chief Social Worker, New Zealand (formerly Restorative Service Developer at
Hull City Council)
He was involved in establishing the Knowledge Transfer Partnership with us and can verify claims
about our role in the successful experiment with RPs in Hull.

Source 8:
Testimonial from member of Youth Justice Board, Restorative Justice Council
As a leading figure in the development of restorative justice in the UK, he can testify to the role that Johnstone's research — as disseminated at numerous meetings with practitioners, policy-makers and activists — has played in stimulating and shaping thinking about the practical development of restorative justice in the UK

Source 9
Testimonial from Assistant Head of Standards and Improvement, Hull City Council Children's and
Young people's Services
As the `Company Chair' of the KTP between the University of Hull and Hull City Council, he can
testify to our role in and facilitating Hull's aspiration to create wellbeing and transcend deprivation
through appropriate and effective use of restorative practice.