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Restorative Justice

Restorative Justice - if you're sorry, tell the victims. not the judgeRestorative justice brings those harmed by crime and those responsible for the crime into communication, enabling everyone affected by a particular incident to play a part in repairing the harm and finding a positive way forward.

For the victim of a crime, restorative justice gives a chance for them to have their say, get answers to their questions and to move on with their lives.

For offenders, restorative justice gives an insight into the real impact of their behaviour and an opportunity to make amends.

Restorative justice is not designed to replace criminal justice proceedings; alongside and integrated with criminal justice, it can deliver benefits that traditional criminal justice solutions on their own cannot.

Under the Victims Code of Practice and the Commissioner’s Victims & Witnesses Charter , any victim of crime in Warwickshire is entitled to access restorative justice services.  The Offices of the Police and Crime Commissioners for Warwickshire and West Mercia have jointly funded Victim Support to deliver restorative justice services in the two policing areas, as part of a wider contract for services for victims of crime.

How does it work?

Restorative justice is completely voluntary and there is no coercion to take part. In a carefully prepared and skilfully facilitated process both offender and victim exchange their experiences, directly or indirectly, to explore the harm caused. It concludes with an agreement on how the harm can be repaired.

Warwickshire Police has experienced facilitators who support and arrange the meetings or other dialogue between you and the offender.

  • The offender must accept responsibility for the harm caused by their actions.
  • Both you and the offender must be willing to participate.
  • Restorative justice can only take place if a trained facilitator decides that it would be safe and suitable.
  • The facilitator will speak to you and offender to discuss what has happened and prepare you for a meeting, often called a conference.
  • In the meeting, everyone will get to have their say and can agree actions to address the harm.
  • In appropriate cases, you and offender can invite agreed supporters to come with them.
  • In some cases a meeting may not be suitable, but the process may be undertaken by another form of communication.

How does restorative justice help?

Crime can have a huge variety of effects on the victim. Their recovery can be complex. But studies have shown that meeting the person who has harmed them can be a huge step in moving forward and recovering from the crime.

For offenders, the experience can be incredibly challenging as it confronts them with the personal impact of their crime. It holds them to account for their actions and gets them to face the consequences of the harm they have caused. It is certainly not a soft option.

  • The offender must accept responsibility for the harm caused by their actions.
  • Both you and the offender must be willing to participate.
  • Restorative justice can only take place if a trained facilitator decides that it would be safe and suitable.
  • The facilitator will speak to you and offender to discuss what has happened and prepare you for a meeting, often called a conference.
  • In the meeting, everyone will get to have their say and can agree actions to address the harm.
  • In appropriate cases, you and offender can invite agreed supporters to come with them.
  • In some cases a meeting may not be suitable, but the process may be undertaken by another form of communication.

Case studies

One of the first referrals was a case charged as criminal damage but in reality was so much more than that. The victims were a young couple who had woken up to find a man break down their front door at 8:00am.  The offender screamed at the couple to block the door and get away, as he believed he was being chased. The man, who turned out to be having a bad trip on drugs, proceeded to pick up the coffee table, break the patio windows and attempt to jump off the third floor balcony. The male victim told his partner to run to the car while he stayed and attempted, with the help of a passer-by, to stop the offender falling and suffering potential serious injury. The offender was eventually able to lower himself to safety where he was arrested and later charged with two counts of criminal damage.

The restorative justice team at Victim Support were able to contact both the harmed and the harmer, who both had questions for each other. For the victims, the incident had left them very shaken, causing the female victim to be very worried about staying in the flat on her own. The offender felt very guilty about what he had done, and wanted to say sorry he also wanted to thank the male victim for stopping him jumping of the balcony and coming to significant harm, especially given that he had just broken into his house. The dialogue between both parties allowed the individuals to ask questions that no-one else had the answers to.

As a result of the restorative justice process, the victims no longer feel targeted; they were able to explain to the offender how they felt his behaviour had been bizarre and dangerous. The female victim was reassured that the offender was not as big and scary as she first though; he was in fact a mature man with a good job and she was reassured he wasn’t going to return to her home. For the offender he was able to see how frightening his behaviour was and how his behaviour was likely to cause significant harm if it continued. He was also able to talk about his drug taking and assure both victims that he had not taken any drugs since the incident and was being supported by his partner.

Another case from Warwickshire in the video below gives a powerful example of how restorative justice can have very positive and unexpected outcomes:

How do I find out more?

If you have already had contact with a facilitator they will be happy to answer any questions you have.

If you would like to refer yourself into the RJ scheme please email: WWM.RJ@victimsupport.org.uk –  the scheme covers both Warwickshire and West Mercia policing areas.

You can also follow the Victim Support Restorative Justice team on Twitter @VictimSupportRJ or visit the Victim Support website.

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Warwickshire Police Association of Police and Crime Commisioners Crimestoppers Warwickshire County Council Safe in Warwickshire Victim Support Action Fraud Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services