This publication is an initiative of the European Forum for Victim-Offender Mediation and Restorative Justice, and results from its first conference which was held in Leuven, Belgium, from 27-29 October 1999. The first six chapters consider victim-offender mediation and restorative justice from a more theoretical point of view. These analyses of theoretical, legal, policy, ethical and societal aspects of mediation and restorative justice have been written by well-known scholars in this field. The second part of the book consists of overviews of the situation with regard to victim-offender mediation in the eight European countries in which it is currently the most developed (Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Norway, Poland and the United Kingdom). For these last chapters, a multitude of information was collected in each of these countries, and this is presented and analysed comparatively.
The following topics are discussed for each of the countries: the history of victim-offender mediation in that particular country, the legal context, policy and implementation, the number of programmes and the way they function, the practice of mediation, the number and characteristics of cases, evaluation and research, and finally challenges, obstacles and expectations for the future. This is probably the first time that such extensive reports on the practice of victim-offender mediation in Europe have been brought together in this way.In publishing this book the European Forum is seeking to contribute to the realisation of one of its objectives, namely providing people all over Europe - and beyond - with information on victim-offender mediation and restorative justice in other countries. Restorative justice is a relatively new field and is still very much evolving. A full exchange of information and ideas will contribute to this process.