School of Law

Research Student: Ian D. Marder

Restorative justice and the police: Exploring the institutionalisation of restorative justice in two English forces.

Photo of Ian D. Marder

Recent years have seen widespread efforts to integrate restorative justice (RJ) into domestic criminal justice processes. In England and Wales, millions of pounds have been invested in RJ, with justice agencies playing a major role in its implementation and delivery. Yet, the institutionalisation of RJ within the existing system, has resulted in its meaning and use reflecting system priorities and rationales, while deviating from research evidence and from restorative principles. Although these gaps are widely recognised, insufficient attention has been paid to the role of the institutional context in shaping RJ in practice.

This study utilises data collected primarily from two English police forces – Durham and Gloucestershire Constabularies – to explore the nature and implications of institutionalising RJ in policing. Documentary and statistical data, and interviews conducted with practitioners, policymakers and managers, are used to investigate each force’s RJ strategies, policies and practices. The study identifies and analyses the ways in which the meaning and use of RJ was shaped by this institutional context, ascertaining the implications for participants and for the development of restorative policing more broadly.

This thesis seeks to advance these fields by embedding its analysis of restorative policing firmly within the institutional context in which it takes place. It also examines the use of ‘street RJ’, a (nominally) recent approach which is widely used, but about which little has been written. It scrutinises the contemporary framing of RJ as ‘victim-focused’ and as a mechanism with which to improve police efficiency. It also studies the tensions between stakeholder empowerment and the various pressures on frontline officers to retain and exert control over victims and offenders. Finally, it contributes to the literature on the experiences of public professionals in making, implementing and applying RJ policies in practice.


In 2015/16, I was Visiting Scholar at the Institute of Criminology, KU Leuven, and in 2017, I worked as Scientific Expert for the Council of Europe’s Working Group on Penological Co-operation. In 2016, I was appointed Visiting Fellow at the Durham Restorative Hub. I have previously conducted research for the United Nations Office of Disarmament Affairs, the Restorative Justice Council, Search for Common Ground, Restorative Solutions and the Ecology Building Society.

I am a Module Assistant in the School of Law. In 2017/18, I will deliver lectures and seminars across seven undergraduate and two postgraduate modules. I have also taught restorative justice at KU Leuven and the University of Gloucestershire, and social finance at the University of York.

I am the founder of the Community of Restorative Researchers, a new research network in the field of restorative justice. The purpose of the network is to enhance communication and collaboration between researchers, policymakers, practitioners, project managers and others working or interested in this field. Please search ‘Community of Restorative Researchers’ on Facebook and LinkedIn, follow us on Twitter at @restorative_res or email me on for more information.

I would be happy to speak to the media (or to other interested or curious parties) about restorative justice, policing or related fields. 


Selected Publications

Marder, I. (2016) “Communicating and Collaborating Across Nations, Professions and Disciplines in Restorative Justice”, Restorative Justice: An International Journal, 4:2, 237-246

Marder, I (ed.) (2015) “Restorative Introductions”, European Forum for Restorative Justice, 54 pages:

Marder, I. (2014) “Opportunities to use Restorative Justice in the Moroccan Criminal Justice Process” Search for Common Ground Maghreb, 38 pages. Available at

Marder, I. (2013) “Restorative Justice for Young Adults: Factoring in Maturity and Facilitating Desistance” T2A Alliance/Barrow Cadbury Trust: London, 27 pages. Available at

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