Restorative justice in mental health services: engaging with complexity and vulnerability

When: January 17, 12:00-1:30 ET

Guests: Sarah Cooper, Dr. James Tapp, and Fin Swanepoel

Host: Dr. Gerard Drennan



The common sense link between people with mental health needs and the potential value of restorative justice practices has been described in the academic literature in many places. However, this notion has invariably remained at the stage of a good idea in theory, with scarcely any progress into the practical implementation of such practices. This webinar will provide an overview of the initial steps taken to formally embed restorative justice and restorative practices in forensic mental health services in settings in the United Kingdom. Our discussants will describe how restorative approaches have begun to take root in each of their unique contexts, leading to reflections on what has been achieved and the on-going challenges in light of their diverse mental health settings. Cultural factors, as well as wider health economics, service pressures, and societal pressures will be considered.


Guest Bios

Maisha Winn

Dr Gerard Drennan Ph.D. is a Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Psychotherapist, and Head of Psychology & Psychotherapy in the Forensic Mental Health Service that is part of South London & Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust in London.  Gerard trained as a psychologist in Cape Town and witnessed first-hand the important role transitional justice, founded on restorative justice principles, played in the emergence of a new democracy in South Africa in the 1990s.  Gerard has worked to introduce restorative justice practices into forensic mental health settings for more than a decade, including making the case for this development through leading an implementation project in the NHS, generating research evidence, publishing journal articles, and book chapters, and delivering conference papers in the UK, Europe and North America.  Gerard has also served as Chair of Trustees of the Restorative Justice Council in the UK.

Maisha Winn

Sarah Cooper is a Senior Forensic Psychologist, based at Kent and Medway Partnership NHS Trust in the south of England. In 2016 Sarah introduced restorative practice to a secure forensic mental health service that supports adult men who have a history of offending and high-risk behaviours; additional needs including intellectual and developmental disabilities, complex trauma and mental health problems. Sarah undertook research evaluating this implementation project in a group of service users who are often excluded from access to restorative justice, and has begun to publish her ground-breaking work through international conferences and publications.

Maisha Winn

Dr. James Tapp Ph.D. is a Senior Lecturer in Forensic Psychology at the University of Kingston, London.  James is also training as a Forensic Psychologist Practitioner at a High Security Hospital, that is part of the National Health Service in the UK.  James has worked in high secure mental health settings for almost two decades, with people who have long-term severe mental health needs and have seriously harmed others as well as themselves. Over this time, James has published research on the rehabilitation of this population and has in recent years extended this to include the role Restorative Justice can play in these settings. This includes supervising a current Ph.D. student in a project looking at the compatibility of theories of Restorative Justice in a forensic mental health context and impact on the identities of those taking part.

Maisha Winn

Fin Swanepoel grew up in Zimbabwe and came to restorative work more formally 12 years ago, commencing in UK prisons as a Chaplain and now in Forensic Mental Health for the past seven years. Fin is registered as an Advanced Restorative Justice Practitioner with the Restorative Justice Council.  In June 2022, Fin became the first (and currently only) Restorative Justice Practitioner employed in this capacity within the United Kingdom’s National Health Service. Fin is passionate and committed to being restorative with people, with projects and with planning. He is working with and within systems and institutions to enable them to be more restorative.  He facilitates rehabilitation programmes promoting restorative thinking with forensic mental health service users, their families and supporters, as well as being a keen cyclist and deeply dependent on the wild for inspiration and connection.