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Estelle Zinsstag (MSc, PhD) is currently a departmental lecturer in criminology at the Centre for Criminology (University of Oxford, UK) where she teaches restorative justice, victimology, youth justice and global and comparative criminology. She is also a senior researcher at the Leuven Institute of Criminology (University of Leuven, Belgium). In Leuven she has held a post-doctoral fellowship as part of the FP7 project ‘Alternative’ on RJ in Intercultural Settings. She also coordinated and was principal investigator on 2 European Commission grants, the first one an action grant on Conferencing and RJ (for the European Forum for Restorative Justice) and the second one a Daphne grant on sexual violence and the possibilities of RJ (for the Leuven Institute of Criminology at KU Leuven). She was also a visiting fellow at Cornell Law School (USA).

She is a founding member and a co-chief editor of The International Journal of Restorative Justice and of the book series Studies in Restorative Justice both published by Eleven International Publishing (The Netherlands). She publishes mainly in the fields of sexual violence, restorative justice and transitional justice. Most recently she edited a book with Dr Marie Keenan (University College Dublin) on Restorative responses to sexual violence for Routledge (2017) and is currently working on 2 further books on related topics.

She is co-chair of both the Scottish Network of Restorative Justice Researchers and the Working Group on Restorative Justice at the European Society of Criminology. She is a member of the European Forum of Restorative Justice (in particular of their research committee) as well as an associate member of the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research (UK). She is a member of the stakeholder group advising Scottish Government on the development of RJ in Scotland and has offered training, consultancy or workshops on restorative justice in e.g. Scotland, France, Brazil and Iran. 




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  • L Walgrave, T Ward and E Zinsstag, 'When restorative justice meets the Good Lives Model: contributing to a criminology of trust' (2019) European Journal of Criminology
    The Good Lives Model and restorative justice, although both innovative practices with a number of common traits, interests and aims, have been developing in parallel or even at odds with each other for a number of years. As a consequence, they have rarely been examined as possibly complementary and of use to each other. In this article we aim to explore these innovative practices individually and to look at how they might work together to address the harm in a positive and constructive way for all stakeholders. We examine the possibilities of how a new approach to criminology, a criminology of trust, could be further developed through their lens and their possible complementarity.
  • C O'Nolan, M Keenan and E Zinsstag, 'Researching 'under the radar' practices: exploring restorative practices in sexual violence cases' (2018) Temida: The Journal of Victimization, Gender and Human Rights 107
    Sexual violence is a pernicious social phenomenon. The limited effectiveness of traditional justice responses has resulted in a search for alternative and innovative responses. This article highlights research and presents findings regarding one such innovative response to sexual violence: restorative justice. While the study adopted a multi-strategy research design to explore the potential of restorative justice in cases of sexual violence this article focuses in particular on one aspect of that design: a webbased survey used to map the global population of programmes engaging in these practices. The article highlights the many challenges inherent in researching emerging social responses and suggests that web-based surveys offer a means of mapping emerging or ‘under the radar’ practices and harvesting important qualitative as well as quantitative data on sensitive topics. They may be especially valuable when populations are geographically dispersed. However, tailoring survey instruments for respondents who are multi-lingual presents difficulties, particularly when the issues under investigation are linguistically and cognitively complex.
  • E Zinsstag and V Busck-Nielsen Claeys, 'Sexual violence as a core international crime, the restorative paradigm, and the possibilities of a 'juster' response ' in M Bergsmo (ed), Thematic Prosecution of International Sex Crimes (Torkel Opsahl Academic Publisher (TOAEP) 2018)
  • L Walgrave and E Zinsstag, 'Le droit penal, la criminologie et la justice restauration' in E Dieu (ed), Les innovations criminologiques (L'Harmattan 2017)
  • E Zinsstag and M Keenan, Sexual violence and restorative justice: legal, social and therapeutical dimensions (Routledge 2017)
    Sexual violence, in all its forms, is a crime for which anecdotal accounts and scholarly reports suggest victims in their great majority do not receive adequate ‘justice’ or redress. The theory and practice of restorative justice is rapidly developing and offers some well-argued new avenues for dealings with crime in general. It has the potential to be extended to cases of sexual violence and a number of small scale programmes are already underway across the world. Restorative Responses to Sexual Violence examines this innovative justice paradigm in more depth in the particular context of sexual trauma and violence in order to establish the empirical realities of restorative justice approaches in cases of sexual violence, and considers how such approaches could be developed adequately in the future. This book is divided into two parts, each representing a key area of research and practice: theoretical and conceptual frameworks, and justice and therapeutic perspectives. This international collection brings together leading expert scholars and practitioners to offer both theoretical and practical perspectives on restorative justice and sexual violence. This book will be of interest to researchers in the field of law, criminology, psychology, social science, social work and psychotherapy, as well as practitioners in the fields of criminal justice, restorative justice and sex offender and victim trauma therapies.
    ISBN: 9780367226480
  • M Keenan, E Zinsstag and C O'Nolan, 'Sexual violence an restorative practices in Belgium, Ireland and Norway: a thematic analysis of country variations' (2016) Restorative Justice: An International Journal 86
    The article compares and contrasts the provision of some restorative practices in cases of sexual violence in three European countries: Belgium, Ireland and Norway. It begins by briefly outlining efforts to address the ‘justice gap’ experienced by victims of sexual violence within conventional justice systems. The article points to calls for the development of alternative or complementary innovative justice responses to sexual violence. It suggests that restorative justice advocates believe they can deliver a participatory, empowering and flexible form of restorative justice, which can run in tandem with conventional criminal justice processes. However, it is noted that the application of restorative approaches to cases of sexual violence has engendered some controversy. The article points to considerable inter-country divergence in the extent to which restorative justice is accessible to victims of sexual crimes and to the emergence of country-specific patterns in the provision of restorative justice in cases of sexual violence.
  • M A Fineman and E Zinsstag, Feminist perspectives on transitional justice: from international and criminal to alternative forms of justice (volume 13 Intersentia 2013)
    ISBN: 9781780681429
  • E Zinsstag and I Vanfraechem, Conferencing and restorative justice: international practices and perspectives (Oxford University Press 2012)
    ISBN: 9780199655038


Research Interests

Estelle publishes mainly in the fields of sexual violence, restorative justice and transitional justice. Most recently she published with Lode Walgrave and Tony Ward an article in the European Journal of Criminology entitled ‘When restorative justice meets the Good Lives model: contributing to a criminology of trust’ (2019) and edited a book with Marie Keenan entitled Sexual violence and restorative justice: legal, social and therapeutical dimensions for Routledge (2017). She is currently working on 2 further books on related topics.

Options taught

Criminology and Criminal Justice, Victims and Restorative Justice, Qualitative Methods , Youth Justice, Core Course II - Understanding Criminal Justice

Research projects