Police understandings of restorative justice - the impact of rank and role

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The issue of a disparity between restorative justice theory and restorative practices has been widely examined. Daly argues gaps are to be expected because there is a lack of understanding around what restorative justice is. This research uses qualitative data from four focus groups and ten interviews (n = 41) to examine police officers’ understandings of what restorative justice is, and equally as important, what it is not. Overall findings suggest a continuum of understanding exists across a police force, with higher-ranking officers expressing more nuanced understanding of the theoretical concepts, key values, and fundamental beliefs of restorative justice than frontline practitioners who were more concerned with the practical aspects of how to ‘do it’. This paper will argue that the role of police culture cannot be ignored and that gaps between theory and practice will continue unless the practical considerations in relation to restorative justice are addressed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)212-232
Number of pages21
JournalRestorative Justice
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2015
Externally publishedYes


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