Restorative Justice - Seed Money Project

Restorative justice (RJ) processes that bring crime victims and offenders together to discuss the offence and what can be done to repair its harm are increasingly being used around the world to supplement traditional criminal justice systems. However, solid experimental research testing the relative effects of different RJ models is lacking. The aim of this seed money project is to collaborate with international RJ experts, Lawrence Sherman and Heather Strang from the University of Cambridge to develop an experimental design and funding application for a randomized trial comparing two different methods of delivering restorative justice in Denmark: the current Victim-offender Mediation (VoM) model and an alternative, Restorative Justice Conference (RJC) approach that has shown positive effects in Australia, the UK and US.

Time period:



Victim-offender Mediation (Konfliktråd) was established on a national scale in Denmark in 2010 and approximately 600 meetings between offenders and victims now take place each year. These meetings are run by an impartial mediator, typically include only the victim and offender, and primarily concern younger offenders and cases of burglary, robbery, and assault (Kyvsgaard 2016). While two commissioned reports suggest that both victims and offenders generally report high levels of satisfaction with the current konfliktåd system (Hansen 2012, Henrisksen 2003), a recent study published by the Ministry of Justice Research Office suggests that participation has no demonstrated effect on offenders’ re-offending rates (Kyvsgaard, 2016).

In contrast, a series of randomized experiments testing the Restorative Justice Conference (RJC) model has shown positive and cost-effective impacts on both victim well-being and a reduction in the frequency of repeat offending (with an estimated benefit-cost ratio of 3.7–8.1:1 in the UK, Sherman et al. 2015). Like VOM, RJC brings victims and offenders together for a face-to-face meeting with the help of a trained ‘facilitator’ but these meetings differ in that they more systematically engagevictim and offender support networks in the process and place a stronger emphasis on the prevention of future harm from re-offending.


This project supports preparatory work for the proposed experiment, including establishing cooperation with the National Police, promoting buy-in amongst local police districts and victim-offender mediators, designing the experiment, and submitting a funding application for the randomized trial.


Danish National Police, University of Cambridge.


Funding decision for experiment expected in summer of 2017 with launch of randomized trial in 2018.

Project group

Heather Strang

Cambridge University


Lawrence Sherman

Cambridge University


Christian B. N. Gade

Associate professor


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