International Restorative Justice Week brings calls for more victims to take up the service
More victims of crime are being urged this week to consider Restorative Justice as a way to help them cope with the effect the crime has had on them.
Restorative Justice brings the victims of a crime or conflict in contact with the perpetrators. The two sides can meet in person, or have some sort of written communication, which allows victims to ask questions and understand more about the offender and the incident they experienced. Often victims want to ask perpetrators questions such as, “Why me?” or “What drove you to do this?” and hearing the answers to their questions can be a key moment which helps them begin to find closure on the incident. In turn, Restorative Justice is shown to reduce reoffending as offenders are often shocked at the impact of their crime on the victim and evidence shows many of them feel remorse for what they have done once they understand the true consequences of their actions. Restorative Justice allows everyone involved an opportunity to repair the harm that has been caused and find a positive way forward.
In the year April 17 to March 18 the Restorative Justice team in Essex contacted 594 victims and 366 perpetrators to offer them a restorative outcome, some of whom had self-referred, others having been referred by police, youth offending teams or councils. 278 people took up the offer, 94% of whom were satisfied with the outcome.
Restorative Justice can be suitable for any type of crime from anti-social behaviour to very serious, violent offences. It can be used in cases dealt with by out of court disposals and is also available post-sentencing.
Supporting victims of crime is a key priority for the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex, Roger Hirst.
He said: “The fact that 94% of victims who used the service last year found it beneficial demonstrates the value of the service, which is underpinned by our core staff and more than 81,000 hours of work carried out by our team of trained volunteers. Together, they have a real impact on the welfare of victims moving forward and trying to get on with their lives after an event which has deeply affected them. It’s vital we provide this in combination with our other support services to give victims different ways of dealing with what has happened to them.”
Essex Restorative and Mediation Service Manager, Emma Goddard, said, “Restorative Justice is a service open to all victims of crime and I would encourage victims to contact our team to find out more. We can give them all the information they need so they can judge for themselves whether it’s something they want to pursue – it’s totally their decision whether to give the service a try or not. If they do want to go ahead, we have a team of trained people to guide them through the process every step of the way.”
The RJ team is based at the Office of the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex and can be contacted via email: [email protected] or by phone: 01245 291621.