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Restorative Technology Ltd

Page history last edited by Paul Crosland 9 years, 8 months ago

Restorative Technology Ltd – (Draft) Business Plan

The Restorative Technology Vision is both to enable increased understanding between those involved in and affected by crimes and also to encourage responsibility being taken by all who can contribute to generating safer societies.

 

Introduction

Restorative Technology Ltd was founded as a company in June 2010, arising out of the work of the “SafeGround team” at the March 2010 Social Innovation Camp.* This Social Innovation Camp sought to find a simple web-based (and/or mobile phone based) idea that held the prospect of reducing youth offending and custody. The panel of judges were from: The Youth Justice Board; The Police Improvement Agency; The Prison Reform Trust & Foyer Housing Federation.

The SafeGround team's idea which won the competition was for a website to support communication between crime victims and 'their' offenders. This would be moderated by Youth Offending Team staff with appropriate mediation/restorative justice skills. As a 'restorative justice' project, the team contained expertise from within the restorative justice field; an expanding field of enquiry and developing practice in the empowerment of stakeholders who are involved in the wake of a crime.1

The communication enhancement that the SafeGround idea is promoting is video-clips and/or web-based text-messaging which opens up useful options e.g. for victims getting their questions answered. A key external restorative practitioner who was consulted before the team presented the idea saw the added value of video-messaging as a way for a victim, for example, to gain more satisfaction or clarity than through more traditional methods of 'apology letters'. Whilst the messaging is handled privately, participants may wish to share their experience of the various forms of restorative communication. Once users make available video-clips or words around their experience of these forms of communication after a crime, future SafeGround users then have more than just the criminal justice staff perspective to inform their choices in relation to how they handle the aftermath of a crime and what they might experience in choosing text, audio and/or video-messaging moderated by Youth Justice staff.

Restorative Technology Ltd has commissioned the development of a SafeGround website for use in Devon Youth Offending Team (called Devon YOS). The development of the site was funded by a private benefactor. The evaluation of the work in the pilot site and the development of a business plan by Restorative Technology Ltd is being funded by the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA).

The Restorative Technology Ltd vision statement (at the top of this page0 is to be delivered by:

  1. creating ease of access to participation in restorative processes;

  2. enhancing ways for participants to be informed by the experience of previous participants in restorative processes;

  3. enabling a range of “depths of engagement” in which the possibility of meetings involving a relevant range of participants and a review process of any agreements made is a choice as valid as a facilitated exchange of electronic information.

 

Size of the Restorative Justice & SafeGround market within Youth Justice

Figures for Youth Justice cases across the UK are generated within information systems run by and accessible to Youth Offending Teams. Youth Justice cases that could lead to restorative work are 'The Referral Order', 'The Reparation Order' and the range of 'Community Orders' which involve Youth Justice supervision. In total in one YOT of average size there are about 560 of these orders; the numbers of these in Devon YOS, which is fractionally larger than the average YOT in the country, being 263, 46 and 255 respectively. However, not all the offences relating to these 'disposals' have victims identified or offered restorative processes. Eg possession of illegal drugs, some public order offences and some motoring offences.

A Youth Justice Board submission to the House of Commons Select Committee on Home Affairs reported that:

In 2005-06 in the region of 40,000 victims of youth crime were offered the opportunity to participate in restorative process and about half, 48% did so. About one third of victims who participated were involved in face to face meetings and over 90% of the victims who were involved expressed they were satisfied with the experience.2

With 198 Youth Offending Teams listed on the Youth Justice Board website, it would therefore be realistic to expect the number of victims of youth crime being offered the opportunity to participate in restorative process in an average-sized YOT to be 202 per annum. The Restorative Technology Ltd wider vision is to increase the ease of access to participation in restorative processes as well as opening up a number of possible “depths of engagement” and to go beyond satisfaction of participants towards evidence of the interactions generating safer societies.

In Devon the number of SafeGround cases is expected to be between 15 and 30 in the first quarter. The expected take-up rate of SafeGround is a key factor in marketing to other YOTs and the lower figure of 15 cases per quarter has been taken to arrive at a figure of calculating SafeGround cases as 10% of a YOT Area's disposals as above.

Selecting YOT partners for SafeGround & Costings

SafeGround implementation requires:

  1. An interested YOT

  2. A sufficient confidence within the YOT that SafeGround can work for them

  3. A sufficient confidence within Restorative Technology that the YOT will be committed to introducing staff, victims and offenders to SafeGround in a way that is likely to produce enough benefits for all.

  4. A support system to handle any implementation issues.

  5. Ongoing learning by Restorative Technology Ltd and YOTs of ways to maximise the benefits (and minimise the dis-benefits) of the communication that is enabled by the technology.

 

Projected income and costs

Table 1  [not added to the Restorative Justice Wiki version of this business plan] displays a projection of the number of clients, income and costs over 3 future years of operation. The years are starting from the moment when a fully fledged, marketable website is available. If larger YOTs such as Manchester & Lancashire use SafeGround in 10% of Youth Disposals a subscription price of, for example, £4,000, would amount to a per case rate of just £30. This would be even lower (£21) with the even larger number of Youth Disposals in Essex and higher per case in each of the London Boroughs, which each have a YOT. The economics for a smaller YOT push the per case rate for a £4,000 subscription to £73 in an 'average-sized YOT' ie one that is a little smaller than Devon YOS with 550 cases. Staff travel time and costs in visiting participants in geographically dispersed YOTs are particularly high. It will be a key matter of 'good practice' to determine when the SafeGround system is used to save a trip to visit a participant in a restorative process. We believe we can sell the product to YOTs for a subscription price of £4,000, though we are also willing to consider one of the two ways of costing by case:

  1. 'First x cases within x months free' model (to encourage initial use); thereafter eg £90 per case

  2. 'Reduced cost per case' model (to encourage getting to the cost saving rate) eg 1st 20 cases @£90; the next 40 cases @ £75 and £60/case for 60cases/annum

 

Restorative Technology Ltd's future will be stronger:

a) the more frequently the YOT services engaged with use the SafeGround software (The QUANTITY case)

and/ or

b)the more it can be demonstrated that a particularly valuable outcome came from using SafeGround in particular cases.

(The QUALITY case)

 

Engaging a YOT involves a SafeGround awareness day for staff, in which the Restorative Technology staff member gets the opportunity to assess the initial response of would-be staff users and, in working through case examples, gets a sense of how they might apply their restorative practice and principles to the use of SafeGround. The attitude and policies of other relevant staff/management will also need to be assessed before SafeGround is actually rolled out in a YOT.

Our expectation is that we will be able to enrol new YOT clients with 5 days of work in the first year.3 In the subsequent years, as the product becomes more widely known, we expect this number to reduce to 3. In each year, we believe that we can get 8 new subscriptions to the service. This figure is conservative – if the product proves successful, a faster growth is certainly possible. We also expect each YOT to require, on average, 1 day of support for each month. As can be seen from the table, support costs are clearly the largest set of expenditure. The growth of this category of cost can hopefully be curtailed by creating systems which facilitate mutual support between users, such as discussion forums and mutual telephone support.

 

The cost of running the site is assumed to be a constant of £2,000. This is based on information of the running costs of the prototype site with our current provider. It is likely that the running costs will slightly increase as the number of YOTs being provided for increases, for instance due to the need to register new domain names and SSL certificates. The running costs of the website are still likely to remain a relatively insignificant item of expenditure.

 

The amount of profit the company makes, as would be expected, greatly increases when more YOTs are subscribed. Getting about 8 clients in the first year would allow the company to break even while covering its employee's time in their marketing and support work. Once a number of initial clients has been attained, the company has more margin to spend on more marketing, improved support or product development.

 

 

Table 1. The expected number of YOT clients, income and costs for 3 coming years.

Identified Risks

 

Potential risks that might undermine the development of SafeGround include:

  1. The difficulty of mobilizing money from YOTs and of proposing a new partnership with a suggested service improvement because cuts have led to retrenchment etc.

  2. The emergence of a different product which provides sufficiently similar functionality at a cheaper cost eg in the field of Distance Learning tutorial software, or even the emergence of new functionality within better known technology such as Facebook, which is already used by some YOT staff for communication with the supervised offenders.

  3. A possible emerging user expectation that the SafeGround product operates across more platforms than we can afford to develop eg iPhones and iPads do not operate 'Flash' video clips, yet Flash is the webcam standard in the current version of SafeGround.

  4. Whist we have spoken in terms of improving the quality of communications and allowing practitioners to use their time more effectively, it would be naïve not to expect some opposition from within Youth Justice and Restorative Practice that the technology is 'dumbing-down' (rather than widening) restorative practice and/or threatening jobs.

Practitioner endorsement

A senior practitioner within the Restorative Justice field who has been interviewed in relation to how SafeGround technology would relate to his work said that though he is not at the forefront of adopting SafeGround, he has witnessed “unsafe” and problematic use of facebook to communicate about incidents/crimes that people have a need to talk about. He sees that he and other Restorative Justice practitioners must becomes more flexible and open to creative ways to use new technology constructively. In regard to the way in which young (and older) people get to have the conversations about the incidents they are involved in (or otherwise affected by), he said “If you don't develop this, someone else will, and if someone else develops it, I can't have the confidence I have in you that it will be developed with a deep understanding of restorative principles and practice standards.”

Once the pilot in Devon is complete, it will be possible to progress based on the experience of restorative practitioners, victims and offenders communicating via the first version of SafeGround.

 

1 Definitions of Restorative Justice are contested frequently within the field of practice which has emerged since the 1977 publication of a paper called “Conflicts as Property” by criminologist, Nils Christie. In 1999 a Home Office Overview of Restorative Justice began with this definition: Restorative Justice is a problem-solving approach to crime which involves the parties themselves, and the community generally, in an active relationship with statutory agencies.

http://rds.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs/occ-resjus.pdf

 

2http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200607/cmselect/cmconst/467/467we49.htm

* The film of the teams competing to win the Jailbrake Social Innovation Camp is at www.jailbrake.org; Paul Crosland (Restorative Technology Ltd Director & CEO) speaks for less than 2 minutes of the 10minute film, being more open and frank about what drives the passion for Restorative Justice that many have experienced.

 

Comments (1)

Paul Crosland said

at 7:43 am on Apr 1, 2011

The blog for Restorative Technology Ltd is at www.restorativetechnology.blogspot.com

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