What is the report about?
This review summarises the available evidence on the use of community-based restorative justice and empathy-based interventions in animal welfare and wildlife crimes. These are two types of a range of non-custodial interventions that can be used in combination with other interventions. The Scottish Government set out to explore their use for animal welfare and wildlife crimes following the passing of the Animals and Wildlife (Penalties, Protections and Powers) (Scotland) Act 2020.
What did we do?
The research identified examples and evaluations of restorative justice and empathy-based interventions used for both animal-related and other crimes, highlighting the advantages and challenges that exist for each intervention.
What did we learn?
The direct application of restorative justice and empathy-based interventions for animal welfare and/or wildlife offences is limited. The few examples cited indicate that these approaches can be potentially effective in reducing reoffending, and repairing the harm done to victims and the community. However, there are a number of barriers which would hinder using restorative justice and empathy-based approaches for animal-related crimes. These include who would speak for the animal, who would be involved in the approach, and identifying when to use such interventions depending on the nature of the offence.
What are the next steps?
Although the few cases highlighted in this review appear to be working well, work is underway to have restorative justice services widely available across Scotland by 2023. Their success in animal-related crimes appears under-evidenced, but their use may be appropriate in the future.
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