Building restorative services: considerations on top-down and bottom-up approaches

Jon Hobson, Brian Payne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Restorative services can develop from the bottom-up, as community-led schemes, or from the top-down, as institutionally or organisationally-led programmes. This paper examines the challenges both types of service face, drawing on interviews with practitioners, service commissioners, and academics working across England, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, and Sierra Leone. The findings suggest that restorative projects face significant challenges: bottom-up projects often lack the resources that come with institutional recognition and may struggle to achieve the acceptance and integration into other state services. If they do achieve this integration, they risk alienating the communities from which they emerged. Top-down projects may enjoy greater funding security and have the benefit of institutional acceptance, but often struggle to engage community members because they lack the on-the-ground legitimacy. Overall, we find that both are important; both fill a ‘space’ of need, and both contribute to the continued development and integration of restorative work.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100555
Number of pages31
JournalInternational Journal of Law, Crime and Justice
Early online date21 Sept 2022
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 31 Dec 2022


  • Restorative Justice
  • Restorative Practices
  • Community Justice
  • Institutional practice
  • Criminal justice reform


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