Who should use this assessment guide?
The guide is designed for the use of experienced restorative practitioners and makes assumptions about levels of skill and competence which would not normally be found in someone without suitable training and case work experience.
As such we make assumptions that practice will be consistent with that outlined in ‘Best Practice Guidance for Restorative Practitioners’ (CJS/UK Home Office, Dec 2004).lndeed this Guidance has a section specifically referring to practice in sensitive and complex cases. In this section it notes as an essential skill required at a higher level; ‘you must be able to; apply a more thorough initial and ongoing risk assessment that would be required for less complex cases, including a formal risk assessment, and ensuring that any relevant specialist risk assessment tool is applied’ (page 34).
Before under taking this assessment the assessors should be acquainted with the AIM2 initial assessment of the abuser and the victim’s account of what has happened (in some cases there may not be a specific victim or there may be multiple victims).
All assessors should have access to supervision and support from their manager or identified consultant. It is also advisable that all interviews are undertaken on a co-working basis.
How to use this framework;
The framework is not intended to be proscriptive in nature; it is to be used as a guide to practitioners in addressing significant issues, which may be significant in cases of sexual assault/abuse.
The Four main sections relate to;
- Parent/carer of both offender/abuser and victim
- Non abused siblings of offender/abuser and victim
Clearly this does not cover every family structure likely to encountered, nor does it cover the often essential role of grandparents or extended family. However the approach taken is one which will point to similar issues to be addressed when engaging with members of extended family who may be either directly involved or felt to be appropriate for inclusion in a potential restorative approach. The method adopted is a sliding scale measure; again this does not lead to a summary assessment of points gained in favour as opposed to point against. The intention is to illustrate that often people will be placed upon a continuum of response rather than a simple binary yes/no position. Moreover this assumes peoples positions to be potentially dynamic rather than fixed and incapable of revision. In structure we have attempted to reflect the AIM 2 Assessment Framework to which this is an additional layer. Consequently the RJ Assessment framework is not on its own a risk assessment tool designed to be used without reference to an offence specific assessment framework.
Finally the practice guidance sections suggest the types of questions which might be asked to illustrate the responses to the assessment. These naturally require the individual to exercise skill and judgment in how these questions are framed, taking into account developmental issues, cognitive ability, mood of respondent and culturally/gender sensitive factors which might apply.
As a framework it could not possibly address all of these variables and therefore as stressed before is no substitute for adequate training and sensitive practice. Nor does it imply that the question/issues are addressed in strict chronological order.
Types of Restorative approaches;
This framework is intended to assess in relation to potential face -to -face restorative approaches such as Mediation, Family Group Meetings or Restorative Conferencing. In addition it is entirely suitable for use with regard to Referral Order practice. However it is also equally applicable for consideration of indirect approaches such as shuttle work, letters of apology and explanation. Not all cases will have a viable restorative outcome. Our practice indicates that nonetheless the framework is invaluable in addressing issues relevant to a ‘welfare’ based approach; such as a Family Group Meeting without victim input to create a family led planning approach relevant to the offender/family or indeed without offender participation to generate a family plan to support a victim of sexual assault/abuse. Again we are not proscriptive in which process meets the needs and addresses the concerns of potential participants.