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Gloucestershire Business News

South Korean teachers visit Gloucestershire to learn about restorative justice

A delegation of teachers has travelled from South Korea to Gloucestershire to learn more about restorative justice, in the hope that they will be able to use the approach in South Korea.

Restorative justice gives victims and offenders the chance to meet each other and allows the victim to speak about the impact a crime has had on them. This means those who have committed an offence can understand the impact of their actions, make a positive change and reduce the likelihood of re-offending.

The group, made up of teachers from schools and members of the Sejong City Office of Education (South Korean equivalent of local educational authorities), was aiming to learn about wider restorative approaches and how it can be used in areas outside of the criminal justice system. At present, there is nothing similar in South Korea.

The group learnt about what restorative justice is, how the process works, how to make it successful and what the benefits are to everyone involved, including victims, communities and the offender themselves. They were shown examples of restorative justice from both criminal and non-criminal backgrounds.

As part of the six-day visit, the delegation listened to Jo Berry, daughter of Sir Anthony Berry, who was killed in the IRA Brighton hotel bombing in 1984. Jo has since met Patrick Magee (who carried out the bombing) on several occasions and explained how reconciliation is important to her. In addition, the group also visited the University of Gloucestershire and Gloucestershire's Local Educational Authority.

Gloucestershire's Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) has been an advocate of restorative justice for many years, recognising the powerful and life-changing impact it can have on local communities and victims.

But restorative justice can also be applied outside of the criminal justice system. Anywhere there is a breakdown in relationships or conflict in communities is an opportunity to use the approach.

Becca Richardson, restorative justice manager at Restorative Gloucestershire, said: "We were delighted to welcome a delegation of South Korean educators. They were accompanied by the Restorative Justice Council, who are visiting the UK to see what high quality restorative practice looks like, in order to introduce a restorative approach in their own schools.

"The work of Restorative Gloucestershire is both community and criminal justice based, and we are always happy to connect with partners from any part of the world."

A member of the South Korean delegation said: "In South Korea, there is an established way to teach children, and there is often not a lot of support from society to deliver restorative justice. We think that education is about changing cultures, changing lives and changing paradigms.

"We've brought 13 teachers on this journey from primary and secondary schools. Some are in charge of years, subjects or student affairs, and we've got staff from the City Office of Education to help support this visit.

"We will name our approach Relationships Centred Life Learning, because it is about sharing of feelings, and everything is about relationships when we develop children.

"The city we are from is a planned city, meaning it is new with lots of people moving in from various backgrounds, and this creates various challenges. For us to establish restorative justice, we need societal support, because this is about changing lives. In Korea, the traditional way of policing is to catch the criminal and enlighten them, and because of this it has been difficult to implement new ways."

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