The scope of this "Paul Crosland additional info" blog

 Here I'm chairing the event "Restorative Justice and Social Change: How NVC contributes" (20th April 2009)

If you want to read more about RJ and nonviolent communication, I recommend this page written by me and colleagues for another website.
A fuller version of ongoing nonviolent communication and restorative justice work will be developed on

This blog is an invitation to you to join in/consider any of a number of conversations. I hope you share some of these interests:
  • living with a greater sense of community/belonging
  • healing hurts
  • sharing what we've got
You do? Great, then I hope we'll soon be in a conversation where I get to listen to your hopes and ideas. Once we've each checked that we understand what the other wants to see in terms of a better world, we can see how we can build part of it with mutual support.
This blog ends with my CV; more generally it is opportunity for you to get more of a sense of my background and what makes me so passionate about Restorative Justice. I am most passionate about the  participatory approach called 'restorative circles' which has evolved (since 1995) in Brazil and is now receiving much recognition:
Dominic's work is widely recognised and now summarised well in pages 42-45 of the 'Radical Efficiency' report by NESTA, "the UK's foremost independent expert on ...innovation"; innovation which addresses social needs en route to the 'Big Society' of which the PM et al dream.
On the 4th August 2010, I recorded 7 'chunks' of interview with Dominic, which are available via the YouTube website; this being interview chunk No 4:

Paul and Dominic discussing the Radical Efficiency' report by NESTA (which has many references to Dominic's Restorative Circles work in Brazil)

Paul's passions beyond (& related to) Restorative Justice:

  • Developing on-line tools to help our conflicts "blossom" and to be well-managed without proliferating. My experimentation in this began when I launched ApologyPlus in 2006 with Marshall Rosenberg. This type of on-line conflict work (using restorative practitioner facilitated texts, audio and video messaging) continues now within the Safeground project, run by Restorative Technology Ltd, a NESTA supported project. 

  • Promoting sharing as a key area of growth in times of resource shortage/ environmental destruction. eg Freelending Community Interest Company's website. If you want a site that looks slicker then, as my alter-ego, "Lend It All Man", I recommend , and As a co-director of Freelending CIC, linked to freecycle UK and friendly with Freegle UK too, I attempt to bring all relevant players in the 'sharing and gift economy' together.

    "Local sharing schemes like Landshare, Hospitality Club and mean you don't need to own your allotment, car or drill..." (Forum for the Future, a leading UK think-tank). See the freelenders blog for amusing stories of the growth of this new economics (some of the players who are making the 'next step' links to fractional ownership and/or 'high-tech shanty towns')

  • Fundraising for the dignity and opportunity of those short-changed by India's caste system by supporting Dalit-run charities and other projects.

  • Building communties with shared spiritual goals, as modelled by the Triratna Buddhist Community.

  • Perhaps from this site you get the picture that I spend much of my time developing, commissioning and/or contributing to websites?
    Face-to-face work I do includes:
    The phrase I like that describes my web work is "Digital Disruption":
    "Digital technologies are ‘disruptive’ in that they enable new forms of provision that meet user needs better and at lower cost.
    Successful internet tools are scalable, personal, collaborative and can be extraordinarily cheap to develop. The web disrupts traditional services by cutting out the middle-man, providing greater flexibility and offering people goods and services which are highly tailored to their needs. In short, they put the service user in control.
    The internet cannot alone heal the sick or collect bins, but it can be used to assist the design and delivery of our public services. Web and mobile platforms that offer people the ability to interact with one another and with information and institutions are particularly useful for enabling the kind of action that could prove central to delivering radical efficiency." (Digital Disruption -case studies, 2010, NESTA, London)

    My priorities as a restorative practitioner in relation to: victim comfort, a burglar's life and/or the safety of the public?

    At HMP Bristol I was RJ Coordinator. I write this blog entry due to all the new coalition governments interest in restorative justice as a penal reform measure:
    My concern is that restorative justice develops in a way that doesn't just serve one interest group at the expense of the lives of others.
    Whilst I paid much attention to 'victim satisfaction',  I was unwilling to prioritise a victim's  comfort above the risk of an offender taking a lethal overdose of drugs if he didn't come out of  the restorative meeting with a believable plan for change.
    Beyond the life of that offender, what was at stake was the safety of the public at large; the 'recidivist burglar' has much to teach us if we want to break the cycle of crime.
    This was my position at HMP Bristol and in 2008 it became a resigning issue.
    The conflict underlying my resignation is very alive for me; all the more pertinent as the Criminal Justice System considers ways to cut costs and deliver better results.
    I suggest that we start by treating prisons not as 'Toxic Waste Centres' but as 'valuable recycling centres for safer society'.
    I look for others interested in sharing their work on
    generating restorative prisons.


    Radical Efficiency = Saving Public Money eg Restorative Justice

    I've worked in restorative justice, and more specifically victim-offender mediation, since the 20th Century, as evidenced on the CV parts of this blog. I've worked in many different roles within a movement that seeks:
    • to get harms repaired 
    • to get this done with respect
    • to learn from each other's suffering
    • to leave people empowered to lead law-abiding lives.

      What we surely all want from Restorative Justice in the wake of a crime is for action to be taken; actions that work for victims, offenders, communities and the criminal justice system. Actions that generate a healthier future for us all, having 'sucked the marrow' out of the conflicts and pains we've been through.

      A justice system that respects all, restores dignity, heals social rifts and can easily win public confidence is 'The Holy Grail'. 

      In relation to this holy grail, I no know one better than Dominic Barter to talk to; the guy who is (to me) the most inspiring restorative practioner in the world, Dom's work has been summarised in the report entitled 'Radical Efficiency',p42-45, 2010,NESTA -London.
      (NB NESTA is the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts ).

      Please note that NESTA has funded the first stages of setting up the 'Safeground team' in which I work. Safeground -and Restorative Technology Ltd- has produced software (under wraps) for a facilitated web communication tool for restorative justice.
      NESTA has also chosen Safeground as one of their 10 case studies of digital disruption:
      All 10 Case studies and some valuable introduction about Digital Disruption is at:

      Further updates will follow in relation to:
      • Safeground1 (facilitated by a number of youth offending teams) 
      • Safeground2 (restorative approaches for the wider general population).


      The Jailbrake Competition Film -won by our SafeGround project, has been released

      Re-living a weekend of intensity and success of the safeground team, captured on film:

      Jailbrake 2010 from The People Speak on Vimeo.


      Which side are you on?

      My experience is that people (including myself) are deeply attached to 'sides' and to conflicts that run deep for years.

      Again, when working as a restorative justice co-ordinator at HMP Bristol, the staff and the prisoners wanted to know:"Which side are you on?"

      Some people I met found it hard to feel trust until they could get a clear sense of 'which side' you were on.
      And trust-building is perhaps the most important aspect of any project's success; well worth a heavy investment of time.
      Once there is enough understanding of where each other is coming from, it becomes much quicker to make and enact action plans that no one undermines.
      In the name of effective co-operation, it helps to be able to recognise 'the path of undermining behaviours': Sarcasm & 'put-down' jokes, excuses, gossip, withdrawl from talking to one another, 'go-slow' working practices, strike, open confrontation and/or separation.
      In relation to someone in your past (or present), which of these behaviours have you partaken in? Some of them? All of them?
      - Great, it helps to recognise the pattern and the cost paid.
      Myrna Lewis points out in an invaluable book called "Inside the No" (available from, her "five steps to decisions that last".
      I paraphrase these as:
      1. Listening
      2. Compassionate response to difference
      3. Recognise the roles you are playing, and increase the democratic holding of these roles
      4. To the dissenters to any suggestion ask: "What would it take for you to come along?"
      5. Recognise whether you are operating within or without the Deep Democracy Paradigm and make adjustments
      So back to 'which side are you on?'
      Saying to offenders: I'm on your side and I'm also on the victims' I would suggest does not amount to an adequate answer. 

      Cultural Baggage
      Not only does the mainstream that try to create heroes and villains.
      Even when I've participated in counter-cultural movements I've seen a simplistic polarisation and joined in such 'peace movement' songs as:
      "Which side are you on?, which side are you on?
      Are you on the side of genocide, which side are you on?"
      Was this song over-simplistic and generalising? Yes - and no and neither and both?

      What may be lost if taking the victims' side
      In Restorative Justice practice it's often all too easy for the practitioner to come down on the side of the victim. (And some practitioners insist that it also hard within the criminal justice system to actually put the victim first, a view which sometimes leads to more imbalanced behaviour as a dangerous way of handling a perceived 'power imbalance').
      To come down on the side of the victim would be a big mistake if building safer societies is more important to you than helping victims feel better.
      I know that to say something other than 'the victim must be priority' is a tough thing to say; it was a resigning matter for me at HMP Bristol.
      (If you are a prospective colleague etc, in order to build trust aand understanding of the principles for which I stand documentation about my resignation is available on request)
      If coming down on the side of the victim is something to guard against in Restorative Justice practice, so to are the following:
      1. to come down on the side of the offender
      2. to come down on the side of the community
      3. to come down on the side of the criminal justice system
      I come down on the side of 'systemic win', an outcome far more complete than the win-win outcome. Win-win outcomes between a couple of stakeholders often generate waste/hurt elsewhere.
      Ideally (and my main occupation appears to be 'idealist') we use pain and waste to generate resources in closed-loop systems. See the writings on permaculture for more of this.
      Ideally, said Gandhi, we generate small scale models of the larger change we want to see. For me this means trust-building, honouring difference and ensuring that all belong and can live with dignity. It starts with whatever organizations we choose to be in, and it is not just about the stated vision and mission of the organisation:

      "Often the organization's declared vision, structure and model are almost irrelevant compared to its ability to incorporate differences of opinion and diverse styles of communication. If a group succeeds at diversity, it is a successful community and will work. If it cannot do this, it fails at the deepest spiritual level of community, becomes unsustainable within itself and does little good for the world around it."
      (From Arnie Mindell's seminal book: "Sitting In The Fire" -Link1; Link2; Wikipedia on Worldwork; freelender copy of book; Amazon Link)

      Come join me, sitting in the fire.
      - Now there's an invitation you may find hard to resist.

      My favourite explanation of why someone does what they do comes from  Arnie Mindell (p43 City Shadows)

      "As far as I know my goals seem to be:
      1) to achieve what I interpret to be unequivocal positive response from the client
      2) to get the same response from the environment
      3) to enjoy myself to the utmost
      & 4) to appreciate the nature of difficult situations.

      Obviously I have to be wide awake about myself because not every client will automatically join me in these expectations."
      Are you, as a potential colleague (or client of mediation services) provisionally willing to let me know your goals, and whether they enable you to work with difficult situations?
      Colleagues and clients who are willing to 'walk towards the conflict' (Dominic Barter's phrase) are those I value the most, and will often work with just for the love of it.