Posted: July 25th, 2022

Effectiveness of the out of court disposal method restorative justice

2 – Literature Review


Out-of-court disposal (OOCD) is given to resolve investigations into antisocial behaviours and low-level crimes, primarily in circumstances when the offender is known and has admitted to committing the offenses (Wong, 2015). An OOCD is only applicable in particular circumstances. Reducing recidivism by facilitating restorative and reparative justice is OOCDs’ guiding philosophy (Neyroud and Slothower, 2015). This section examines the literature on the impact of out-of-court dispositions on recidivism, emphasizing the restorative justice method.

2.1 – Empirical Literature Review

According to Neyroud (2018), who conducted an empirical literature assessment on the suitability of OOCD, the police, in conjunction with the victim, are permitted to consider an out-of-court disposition as the offender’s preferred alternative. Similarly, while the victim’s preferences will be regarded, Cochrane et al. (2021) noted that they are not required to participate in the process, and the investigating officer will have the last say in how the offender is punished. It is also mentioned that the culprit must also plead guilty and agree to a resolution outside of court. Similarly, Neyroud and Slothower (2015) state that the officer in charge of the case must make every effort to obtain the victim’s view on whether or not the offender should be sentenced outside of court. The research conducted by Neyroud and Slothower (2015) shows that OOCD is effective with low-risk, low-harm offenders, and it may also be effective with moderate-risk offenders.

In addition, it is stipulated that while the victim’s desires will always be honoured, the investigating officer still plays a vital part in this determination, as they must also evaluate the gravity of the crime and its circumstances (Neyroud, 2018; and Cochrane et al. 2021). Other considerations include the impact of the offence on the victim, the history of the offender, and the propriety of any prospective conditions linked to the disposition (Neyroud, 2018). Consequently, the officer’s professional judgment must be utilized to determine the ultimate determination. Other studies that concur with these findings include Cochrane et al. (2021), who found that OOCDs are more effective than court prosecution at reducing harm and recidivism while preserving victim confidence and satisfaction. OOCDs were also more successful with adolescent offenders and young adults (Cochrane et al., 2021). The trustworthiness of the research techniques is confirmed by the fact that these findings reveal consistent ideologies on the applicability of OOCDs from different jurisdictions. The primary deficiency is that the studies do not discuss the merits and downsides of this strategy when it is utilized as the sole method of arbitration for minor offenses, nor do they identify regions of success and failure.

Regarding the effectiveness of the OOCD, Weir et al. (2021) emphasized that OOCDs that are accompanied by specific regulatory criteria must be effectively executed to be effective. To this aim, Weir et al. (2021); and Sturrock and Mews (2018) noted a number of areas that would demand special attention in the implementation of the OOCD, including Eligibility screening of offenders; specific needs assessment to match the conditions of the offender and the appropriateness of the OOCD; setting and tracking of conditions; OOCDs with conditions tailored for women appear promising but require further testing; OOCDs with conditions appear cost-effective in comparison to court prosecution; the two-tier OOCD approach as piloted failed. Nonetheless, the study by Sturrock and Mews (2018) reveals that a new, two-tiered system for OOCDs has been tested in several police force locations during the past few years. According to the Government’s September 2020 White Paper, as De Pelecijn, Decoene, and Hardyns (2021) reported, a more innovative approach to sentencing across the country is recommended. According to the Government’s September 2020 White Paper, fixed penalty notices will remain in place, while the other OOCDs will be consolidated into two options: community resolutions (for less serious offenses/offenders with limited offending histories) and conditional cautions (for more serious offenses/offenders with extensive offending histories) (De Pelecijn, Decoene and Hardyns, 2021). Similarly, the research on the implementation of restrictive conditions of the OOCD and their impact on recidivism by Underwood and Washington (2016) revealed that there is a statistically significant interaction between having a particular restricting condition and having two prior offences. Restrictive conditions were associated with decreased recidivism for those with two past offenses and higher recidivism for those with no prior infractions. The key strength of the studies by Underwood and Washington (2016); and De Pelecijn, Decoene, and Hardyns (2021) is their emphasis on the applicability of OOCD to various groups, which provides the foundation for the strategy’s suggestions. Those with two past offenses, for instance, had a 132% greater likelihood of reoffending if no restrictive condition was imposed (Underwood and Washington) (2016). Those with two prior offenses were 2% less likely to violate a restriction than those with no prior convictions (Underwood & Washington, 2016). Further research must concentrate on the same variables in populations categorized by gender, age, residency, and other demographic features.

The study by Neyroud (2018) divided the circumstances of effectiveness into four distinct categories: restricted, reparative, punitive and rehabilitative. The study finding by Neyroud (2018) noted that rehabilitative conditions were the most common, followed by reparative, restricted, and punitive conditions. A similar study done by Neyroud and Slothower (2015) conducted a multivariate analysis within similar pilot locations to evaluate differences in the rates of reoffending after a caution between people having different types of conditions. However, Neyroud and Slothower (2015) noted that it is pretty impossible to distinguish the effect of any one type of disease since one person could have numerous conditions. As a result, the focus of Neyroud (2018) was narrowed down to the differences in reoffending between individuals who had at least one type of disorder and those who did not. In view Neyroud (2018); and Neyroud and Slothower (2015), their major strength is the application of quantitative approaches to quantitatively test the significance in the relationship of variables and show the gaps in terms of the effectiveness of OOCD strategies. However, since Neyroud (2018); and Neyroud and Slothower (2015) are mainly case studies, they had a limited scope, reducing the reproducibility of their findings. There is a need for the application of mixed methods approaches to come up with more objective comparative data and assess the credibility of the results. The use of a varied method of research would give a more comprehensive outcome drawn from different data sets.

On the possibility of reoffending, a multivariate analysis was utilised to investigate reoffending in the study by Kasinathan (2015). Kasinathan (2015) focused on the likelihood of reoffending after a caution. In its area of focus, the chances of reoffending in the pilot and the counterfactual regions were compared over the one-year follow-up period. The results of the rates of reoffending were determined using logistic regression, which generates an odds ratio, which sums up the chances of one reoffending result compared to another. The likelihood of reoffending is calculated using all of the odds ratios in this situation. In a similar study that focused on the frequency of reoffending, Haines et al. (2012) noted that during a one-year follow-up period, negative binomial regression was used to determine the number of proven re-offences following a caution. In this case, if the dependent variable is a count variable, negative binomial models were utilised. In their findings, the two studies conducted by Kasinathan (2015); and Haines et al. (2012) highlighted no statistically significant changes in the chance of reoffending for individuals who received a caution in quarters one, two, three, or four. Both Kasinathan (2015); and Haines et al. (2012) concluded that there were no statistically significant changes in the proportion of people who reoffended after receiving a caution in the pilot study Kasinathan (2015) compared to the counterfactual areas. These findings were inconsistent with Neyroud (2018) findings, which highlighted no statistically significant changes in the chance of reoffending following a caution for persons with various conditions. In the same manner, the study by O’Brien (2019) noted no significant differences in the chance of reoffending between individuals who had one, two, or three conditions of one specific condition type against those who did not have any of those symptoms. In view of Kasinathan (2015), Neyroud (2018), and Haines et al. (2012), the strong relationships that were gotten in the relationship between dependent and the independent variables give clear information about the validity of the outcome. The studies were based on primary sources, which indicates the depiction of an actual state of a particular population at the time of the research. However, the studies have not focused on the concept of OOCD from the restorative justice approach point of view.


62% of victims felt that the out of court disposal method Restorative justice made them feel better after the incident of crime (restorative justice council, 2016). They also highlighted that for every pound spent delivering face to face meetings eight pound was saved through reducing reoffending.


2.2 – Summary of the literature review

This section reviews various literature related to the effectiveness of out-of-court disposals on reoffending, focusing on the restorative justice approach. In terms of the suitability of the use of OOCD, the reviewed literature has not highlighted the pros and cons of OOCD when used as the sole means of arbitration for petty offences. It fails to highlight areas of success and failure. There is a need for further studies on the applicability of this method as a restorative justice approach in diverse jurisdictions to assess its efficacy. In terms of the relevance of OOCD to different population groups with other demographical characteristics, further studies need to focus on the same variables in different sets of populations categorised in terms of gender, age groups, residence, and other demographic characteristics.

Similarly, there is a need for the application of mixed methods approaches to come up with more objective comparative data and assess the credibility of the findings. Using a mixed method of research would give a more comprehensive outcome drawn from different data sets. Further studies need to emphasise the concept of OOCD from the restorative justice approach point of view.


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