An evaluation of a restorative justice trial: where the victims are businesses and the offenders are insurance fraudsters
Perpetuity Research have completed a study into the use of restorative justice with low level insurance fraudsters. This is the first known Restorative Trial focussing exclusively on this type of offender. The Trial was headed by the City of London Police working in conjunction with insurers. Like most Trials of this nature it provided a number of important learning points. For example, generating referrals was much harder than anticipated; only some insurers proactively engaged with the Trial and none turned up to mediations (some were seemingly and erroneously not invited) and were ‘represented’ by a Victim Impact Statement. This reflects the fact that some insurers were sceptical of it and any future attempt needs to ensure that the basic elements of collaboration are enshrined from the start. There were also problems resulting from one force attempting to support a national scheme; or at least one that included referrals from a wide geographical area.
That said, some of the findings encourage optimism. For example, fraudsters taking part reflected favourably on the impact it had on them not least in making them more aware of the consequences of their actions. An unanticipated benefit was that some offenders said that they had gained insight into their reasons for committing insurance fraud. Mediations were perceived to be well organised and offenders praised the way in which they were managed. Those insurers interviewed and who had referred cases were happy with the outcome, suggesting fertile ground for any future Trials with this group.
It is important to note that the Trial was small-scale: it involved only 14 participants. Recommendations from the report highlight the need for a clearer strategy to guide practice including more specific aims for the mediations that do take place. More work is needed to determine whether Trials such as this prevent repeat offending (of insurance frauds or other types).
Download the report here.