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Forensic psychiatry and psychotherapy: when perpetrators and victims meet again

Judicial psychiatry and psychotherapy: restorative justice – right to reparation. This "victim-centered" process has been increasingly integrating into legal systems in many Western countries, especially in the Netherlands, for several years. Here, perpetrators and victims or survivors of a criminal offense either before or after the final verdict meet, the victim's perspective is more directed. Uta Kröger, Nienke Verstegen and Arie Raaijmakers (Van der Hoeven Utrecht Clinic) represent a re-discovered procedure in the journal "Forensic Psychiatry and Psychotherapy" (issue 1/19).

Perpetrator-Victim Compensation: Restorative justice may have different forms. In Germany, for example, the principle aims at resolving the conflict resulting from a non-offending act – through the interaction of perpetrators and victims.

In 2011, Dutch victims and survivors of perpetrators of perpetrators have strong and broad rights throughout the criminal justice process, from the time of their filing to the release of the perpetrator, they have the right to comprehensive information, extended claims for compensation and the right to speak during a court hearing .

The Dutch criminal justice system is increasingly pursuing victim-focused measures. For example, prisoners can participate in raising awareness and re-training courses, work on compensating for the damage they have suffered or directly communicate with the victim.

As an "example of applying policies and legislation targeted at victims in practice," the guidelines developed in detail by the Dutch Forensic Psychiatric Center are applied to contacts between regular patients and their victims. He describes two ways to improve: the contact between the social worker and the victim, giving answers to his questions and their persuasions, as well as the contact between the perpetrator and the victim to mediate. Each contact works in three phases:

  1. List of needs and risk of the victim
  2. Preparing contacts
  3. Execute and end the contact

All participants should receive the desired information and answers to previously unanswered questions. Crime victims, in particular, should no longer be "crossed" by the judiciary, but more attention should be paid.

In general, victim-centered interventions play an increasingly important role in forensics. The effects of "restorative justice" are noticeable and reported many times – it appears that contact between perpetrators and victims has a positive impact on all affected persons. However, the whole thing is not yet 100% mature: "Further research on larger samples will be needed in the future to assess the experiences of victims and perpetrators in mediation processes. In addition, empirical studies could provide a better insight into the preconditions for successful mediation and which are actually their effects.


Uta Kröger, Nienke Verstegen, Aria Raaijmakers: Restorative Justice in Criminal Procedure in the Netherlands.
Guidelines for victim-centered interventions in the context of the treatment of perpetrators of criminal offenses.
Forensic Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Issue 1/2019, p.