DOI: 10.5553/IJRJ/258908912018001003015

The International Journal of Restorative JusticeAccess_open

Book Review

Restorative policing: concepts, theory and practice

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Dr Kelly J. Stockdale, 'Restorative policing: concepts, theory and practice', (2018) The International Journal of Restorative Justice 476-479

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      Kerry Clamp and Craig Paterson, Restorative policing: concepts, theory and practice, Abingdon: Routledge, 2017, 212pp., ISBN: 978-1-138-95907-1 (hbk), ISBN: 978-1-315-66083-7 (ebk).

      Nearly three decades have passed since new policing models based on restorative principles began to emerge. Kerry Clamp and Craig Patterson have taken on the unenviable task of compiling this book in a bid to not only consolidate the research and learning that has taken place over this time, but to further discourse on the topic: by so doing they seek to put forward their transformative vision for restorative policing. Their book offers a much-needed contribution, both in its content and its format: theoretical contributions and research on restorative policing in practice have previously only been accessible as research briefings, book chapters and journal articles, with notable exceptions being special edition volumes in Police, Practice and Research (2003, Vol. 4(4)) and Journal of Police Studies (2009, Vol 11), which was later published by Maklu. This has created a void in easily accessible literature, particularly for practitioners in the field. Clamp and Patterson’s contribution, therefore, not only provides an accessible overview of academic writing in this area – importantly, covering both policing and restorative justice literature – but also creates the space to discuss what has been researched and theorised over the last 30 years. By so doing it pushes the reader to consider what a new restorative policing paradigm might look like, and how it might be achieved.
      The book is set out in two parts; following the introduction to restorative policing and police reform the first half of the book focuses on what restorative policing is, how it has been implemented and the arguments for and against its use. Chapter 2 provides a detailed introduction to restorative practices and the key concepts of restorative justice. It clearly and concisely outlines the theoretical perspectives that underpin restorative policing before offering definitions as to what restorative policing is, and also what it is not. Having established this, Chapter 3 gives an overview of the implementation of restorative policing around the world. It opts to focus only on the Wagga Wagga Model of police-led conferencing (apart from providing a brief outline of Family Group Conferencing that emerged in New Zealand following the Young Persons and Their Families Act 1989, which provides important context for the development of the Wagga Wagga Model). Whilst acknowledging the diversity of police-led conferencing that exists, the authors have opted only to focus this model due to the amount of academic and policy attention it has received and the availability of reliable data from several large-scale independent evaluations that have occurred (e.g. Hoyle et al., 2002; McCold & Wachtel, 1998; McGarrell et al., 2000; Meadows et al., 2012; Moore and Forsythe, 1995; O’Mahony et al., 2002; Strang et al., 1999). The final chapter in this first section of the book considers the arguments for and against police involvement in restorative justice, providing some of the challenges in relation to specific areas of policing including police culture and the operational police environment, before considering the benefits to victims, offenders and the police. Here the book considers the potential transformative change that restorative policing may have to police culture and to policing as a whole. Having provided a review of existing restorative policing literature, the book has now set the scene, and it is through this comprehensive and systematic review of restorative policing literature that a clear gap is identified: both the ‘drift’ from the original restorative policing model and the failure to successfully incorporate restorative principles across criminal justice systems. The authors argue that these challenges to the successful implementation of restorative policing cannot be fully understood without situating restorative policing within wider policing literature that explores the social and political shifts, within criminal justice that have taken place over the last thirty years.
      The second part of this book, therefore, seeks to develop restorative policing discourse by situating it within the broader policy changes that have occurred within criminal justice. The authors encourage us to separate out how we consider ‘the police’ as an institution and ‘policing’ as a process. It is only by doing this then that the larger transformational nature of restorative policing, and the difficulties in its implementation, can be fully understood. Chapter 5 considers the overarching neo-liberal criminal justice landscape and its implications for police and policing generally and restorative policing in particular. Clamp and Paterson argue that the global restructuring of the governance of security is what acted as a driver for restorative policing and other community-based models of crime control. Yet, these grand theoretical narratives often over-look the local level – it is often here where understandings of policy implementation can take place. Connecting the macro and the micro, this chapter explores the implications that this raises for the shape and sustainability of restorative policing. Building on this, Chapter 6 considers how restorative policing can be reconceptualised as a new mode of governance, one that is specifically framed in relation to social capital. The authors argue that it is this social capital gap that is missing in relation to restorative policing and thereby put forward the case for broadening and lengthening the restorative policing lens: it is by building social capital, both from above and below, that a transformative vision of restorative policing will be realised. Thus, Chapter 7 provides a framework within which this transformational change can occur. It considers four key areas that are considered crucial in attempts to embed restorative justice and drive change across the organisation as a whole, namely: leadership, organisational structure, training and education, and empowering the frontline.
      The book ends, having explored the research into restorative policing and criminal justice process so far, by reframing the research agenda for restorative policing moving forward. In particular, it argues for a need to connect restorative justice within the larger policing literature and to further understand the broader neo-liberal criminal justice setting. It suggests building on the structure put forward by Bayley and Shearing (2001) whereby the restorative policing research agenda focuses on the following four areas: firstly, the ‘foundational description’, encouraging researchers to explore gaps in knowledge in relation to the particular forms of restorative policing that occur, both within communities and throughout countries around the world; secondly, ‘social impact’ needs further exploration, particularly the way in which restorative policing has addressed wider policing issues, this includes both the micro-level bonds and structures that help to strengthen communities and the meso- and macro-level social environments; thirdly, ‘policy development’ particularly in relation to policy implementation; and finally, ‘causation’ whereby complex questions in relation to the impact restorative justice principles might have on police cultures are explored more critically. This final chapter, therefore, highlights that whilst the restorative policing has great promise, and offers something truly transformative to the police, policing, to the community as a whole, it is still not clear whether the vision for restorative policing is a ‘realistic, credible or sustainable’ and further research in these areas is necessary (2017: 175).
      The book has attempted to fulfil a lot within its eight chapters. By providing a systematic review of existing literature in relation to police-led conferencing it pulls together this ever-expanding catalogue of work and attempts to make sense of it within the broader criminal justice political landscape. The skill of the authors is that they have not only provided an overview of the issues for those who are new to any of the three separate areas of restorative justice, policing or restorative policing – but the depth of information contained within each section that is offered in such a concise manner: every sentence works hard to provide sufficient detail and context as the book moves the reader on towards the wider vision the authors have for restorative policing. It is a book that can be read both in its entirety and also, due to its clear structure and layout, be used as a reference text – both as reminder of the range and scope of restorative policing research and a prompt for new directions in thought. Because of this it is sure to become the essential ‘go-to’ text for anyone working or researching in this field. Indeed, beyond the restorative policing field: as much as restorative policing needed to combine policing literature within its theoretical models, so must policing literature begin to recognise the importance of this body of work when exploring models of policing, leadership and transformational change.

    • Bayley, D. & Shearing, C. (2001). The new structure of policing: description, conceptualization, and research agenda. Washington, DC: National Institute of Justice. Available from: (last accessed 30 June 2018).

    • Hoyle, C., Young, R. & Hill, R. (2002). Proceed with caution: an evaluation of the Thames Valley Police initiative in restorative cautioning. York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

    • McCold, P. & Wachtel, B. (1998). Restorative policing experiment: the Bethlehem Pennsylvania police family group conferencing project. Pipersville: Community Service Foundation.

    • McGarrell, E., Olivares, K., Crawford, K. & Kroovand, N. (2000). Returning justice to the community: the Indianapolis restorative justice experiment. Indianapolis: Hudson Institute.

    • Meadows, L., Albertson, K., Ellingworth, D. & Senior, P. (2012). Evaluation of the South Yorkshire restorative justice programme. Sheffield: Sheffield Hallam Centre for Community Research.

    • Moore, D. & Forsythe, L. (1995). A new approach to juvenile justice: an evaluation of family conferencing in Wagga Wagga: a report to the criminology research council. Wagga Wagga: Centre for Rural Social Research.

    • O’Mahony, D., Chapman, T. & Doak, J. (2002). Restorative cautioning: a study of police based restorative cautioning pilots in Northern Ireland. Belfast: Northern Ireland Office.

    • Strang, H., Barnes, G., Braithwaite, J. & Sherman, L. (1999). Experiments in restorative policing: a progress report to the National Police Research Unit on the Canberra Reintegrative Shaming Experiments (RISE). Canberra: Centre for Restorative Justice, Australian National University.

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