Terms of Reference for a review of Community Restorative Justice Ireland and its accredited schemes


The Chief Inspector of Criminal Justice Jacqui Durkin has today published terms of reference for a review of Community Restorative Justice Ireland and its accredited schemes.
The review is being undertaken following a request made by the Minister of Justice on 26 October 2022.

Terms of reference have been provided to Community Restorative Justice Ireland, the Department of Justice and a number of other organisations prior to the commencement of the review and are available below.

A Review of Community Restorative Justice Ireland and its accredited schemes
Terms of Reference
On 26 October 2022 the Minister of Justice (the Minister), exercising her powers under Section 47(4) of the Justice (Northern Ireland) Act 2002[i], requested Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland (CJI) to undertake a review of Community Restorative Justice Ireland (CRJI) and its accredited schemes.  CJI have the power to inspect a community based restorative justice scheme under Section 43 (5) of the Justice and Security (Northern Ireland) Act 2007[ii].
CRJI was founded in 1998 and its mission statement is that it ‘aspires to build a tolerant, responsive, and inclusive community by providing restorative justice services to local areas.’  The organisation has grown to include six locations throughout Belfast and offices in Derry/Londonderry and Newry.  In 2008, CRJI was accredited by the Northern Ireland Office, making it one of two restorative justice organisations to receive this distinction.  The organisation is a charitable organisation recognised by His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs and registered with the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland.

The Criminal Justice Review (2000) found that ‘Community-based restorative justice (CBRJ) schemes can have a role to play in dealing with the types of low-level crime that most commonly concern local communities.’  The 2007 Justice and Security (Northern Ireland) Act[iii] established the legislative basis for community-based restorative justice schemes.
A Protocol[iv] for CBRJ Schemes was also published by the Northern Ireland Office in 2007.  Any organisation or scheme wishing to apply for accreditation had to first ensure that they complied with the Protocol.  This Protocol applied to all cases where schemes dealt with or sought to deal with criminal offences. 
Accreditation was a two-stage process.  CJI were involved in the first stage, carrying out a pre-accreditation inspection of the CBRJ scheme and providing a written report to the Minister of Justice for consideration.  Stage Two involved a Suitability Panel confirming the suitability of individuals nominated to work in those CBRJ Schemes.   
Between 2007 and 2016 CJI undertook eight pre-accreditation inspections of CBRJ schemes in Northern Ireland, five of which were CRJI schemes, and published the resulting reports on its website.
In 2016 the accreditation process for CBRJ Schemes was paused by the then Minister.
On 3 June 2020 the Minister advised that she would be restarting the accreditation process in order to increase CBRJ capacity.
In March 2022, the Minister commissioned an independent Review of the 2007 Protocol.  The Protocol had been in place for more than 14 years and a clear view emerged through
the Adult Restorative Justice Strategy Restoring Relationships, Redressing Harm 2022-27[v] consultation process that the Protocol needed an extensive review.  It was intended that the Department of Justice (DoJ) would draft a new Protocol for the operation of the schemes in line with the Review’s findings.  The new DoJ Protocol for the use of restorative justice is currently being developed. 
At the time of the Minister’s request, the 2007 Protocol was the governing document and will be used to assess the practice of CRJI and its accredited schemes.
Aims of the Inspection
The broad aims of the Inspection are to:
  • examine governance information, policies and other relevant documentation to determine compliance with the Protocol and assess the quality of practice;
  • examine documentation and information in relation to work that has been undertaken in partnership with criminal justice agencies;
  • examine the policy and procedures around the monitoring of expenditure of public funds;
  • assess progress, including in relation to achieving previous recommendations where appropriate; and
  • any other matters arising during the inspection if considered appropriate by CJI may be included. 
Matters outside the scope of this inspection
The following matters fall outside the scope of this inspection and will not form part of this review:
  • the ongoing Industrial Tribunal case and the allegations specific to it; and
  • financial investigation or audit.
The review will be based on the CJI Inspection Framework, the three main elements of the inspection framework are:
  • Strategy and governance;
  • Delivery; and
  • Outcomes.
The 2007 Protocol sets out what is required from schemes to fulfil their obligations and, as stated above, this will be used to assess compliance by CRJI and its accredited schemes.
The review will be conducted by the Deputy Chief Inspector and a CJI Inspector.
CJI is cognisant of the current operational models of inspected organisations and this will inform fieldwork for this review (see below) and may impact timing. 
Design and Planning
Preliminary research
Preliminary discussions and a preliminary review of information has taken place to inform the drafting of the terms of reference.
Benchmarking, research and data collection
Collection of benchmarking information and data and review of inspection and research reports will be undertaken.
Contact with agencies
Terms of reference will be shared with CRJI, the Probation Board for Northern Ireland (PBNI), the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), the Public Prosecution Service (PPS), the Youth Justice Agency (YJA), the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC), the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland and the DoJ.  Liaison officers from the organisations should be nominated for the purposes of the review.
Policies and procedures, management information, minutes of meetings and related documentation from the organisations will be requested and examined. 
Stakeholder consultation
The following stakeholder organisations will be consulted:
  • The PBNI;
  • the PSNI;
  • the PPS;
  • the YJA;
  • the NIHRC;
  • Charity Commission for Northern Ireland; and the
  • DoJ.
Other stakeholders may be consulted as required.
CRJI will be asked to undertake a self-assessment, which will be reviewed by CJI prior to the commencement of fieldwork.
Development of fieldwork plan
The fieldwork plan will include:
  • Off-site fieldwork at CJI to examine documentation provided by CRJI;
  • On-site fieldwork at each CRJI premise to meet staff, make observations and review records; and
  • meetings with staff in the PBNI, the PSNI, the PPS, the YJA, the NIHRC and the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland involved with CRJI and its accredited schemes.
Initial feedback to agency
On conclusion of the fieldwork the evidence will be collated, triangulated and analysed and emerging findings will be developed.  CJI will then present the findings to CRJI and the DoJ.
Drafting of report
Following completion of the fieldwork and analysis of data a draft report will be shared with the relevant bodies including CRJI, the PBNI, the PSNI, the PPS, the YJA and the DoJ and any other relevant stakeholders for factual accuracy check.  The Chief Inspector will invite the CRJI, or other organisations where appropriate, to complete an action plan within two weeks to address the recommendations and if the plan has been agreed and is available, it will be published at the same time/alongside the final review report. The review report will be shared, under embargo, in advance of the publication date with relevant bodies.
Publication and Closure
A report will be sent to the Minister, or the Permanent Secretary in the absence of a Minister, for permission to publish.  When permission is received the report will be finalised for publication.  A press release will be drafted and shared with CRJI the PBNI, the PSNI, the PPS, the YJA, the NIHRC, the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland and the DoJ prior to publication and release.  A publication date will be agreed and the report will be issued.
Indicative Timetable
Scoping, research and self-assessment:
November and December 2022.
January 2022.
Draft report to CRJI and other appropriate organisations for factual accuracy:
February/March 2023.
Publication (subject to permission to publish). Spring 2023.
The above timetable may be impacted by factors outside CJI’s control.  Organisations will be kept advised of any significant changes to the indicative timetable.
[i] UK Government, Justice (Northern Ireland) Act 2002 S. 47 (4) available at Justice (Northern Ireland) Act 2002 (legislation.gov.uk)
[ii] UK Government, Justice and Security (Northern Ireland) Act 2002 S.43 (4) available at Justice and Security (Northern Ireland) Act 2007 (legislation.gov.uk)
[iii]UK Government, Justice and Security (Northern Ireland) Act 2007 available at Justice and Security (Northern Ireland) Act 2007 (legislation.gov.uk)
[iv] Northern Ireland Office, 2007 Protocol for Community-Based Restorative Justice Schemes, February 2007 available at Microsoft Word - Finalised CBRJ Protocol as published on 5 February 2007.DOC (ulster.ac.uk)
[v] DoJ, Adult Restorative Justice Strategy for Northern Ireland, March 2022 available at Adult restorative justice strategy for Northern Ireland (justice-ni.gov.uk)