The use of restorative justice to help reduce crime has increased, according to a new report.

A Criminal Justice Joint Inspectorate report has revealed that use of informal resolutions increased from 0.5% in 2008 to 12% in 2011.

Restorative justice offers victims the opportunity to meet offenders in order to help them recover from the impact of crime. It also allows the offender to make amends and can be used as an alternative to formal proceedings.

The report, Facing up to offending: Use of restorative justice in the criminal justice system, did uncover inconsistencies in how restorative justice is used in different constituencies. It found that different police forces allow different offences to be resolved with restorative justice, and urged a national strategy with a consistent approach to restorative justice that covers all police forces.

Several retailers have used this route rather than pursuing judicial proceedings. Rav Garcha of Nisa Local in Shrewsbury used restorative justice to deal with a shoplifter. “We did this with a really good customer who had been made redundant and was found stealing,” he said. “We talked the issue through, which was very helpful. We would do it again if possible.”

Devon retailer Paddy Paddison also used restorative justice. “We made a kid drop leaflets for us after he stole from the shop,” he said. “We are on good terms with the local PSCO and discussed it with the child’s parents. It was a positive experience for the child and much better than engaging the full judicial system.”

He added that he would consider it again, but only for first offences. “It is only suitable for first intervention, and I think it is most suited to young people,” said Paddy.