Restorative Justice now available to all as service rolled out across Essex
A SCHOOLBOY who was left unable to sleep or leave his home has told how confronting the perpetrator through the Essex Restorative Justice Hub helped him get over the attack and move on with his life.
The 12-year-old boy spoke about his experience as the Essex Restorative Justice Hub rolled out its service to the whole of the county following a successful six-month pilot.
Restorative Justice is a process which gives victims involved in a crime or conflict the opportunity to meet or communicate with those who have offended against them in a safe way. The scheme is shown nationally to have helped reduce re-offending and give victims closure, enabling them to move on after their experiences.
The Essex Restorative Justice (RJ) Hub was created by Police & Crime Commissioner for Essex Nick Alston. It has been trialled in West Essex since April this year and is now being rolled out to the whole county following its success.
*Anthony is just one victim who opted to use the services of the Essex RJ Hub after he was assaulted by an older boy in an incident in West Essex. Following a police investigation Anthony decided he wanted to meet his perpetrator to ask him why he carried out the attack.
He said: “After the attack I was petrified, I couldn’t step foot outside the door and I couldn’t sleep.
“I felt like my attacker was just going to get a slap on the wrist which is why I decided I wanted to meet him.
“As soon as he walked in the room he said sorry straightaway. That shocked me I didn’t even think he would turn up.
“Afterwards I felt really free again, like I could do anything that I wanted to do.”
Anthony said the perpetrator in his case told him he had turned his life around since the incident and said he had “learnt his lesson”.
Emma Callaghan, development manager of the Essex RJ Hub said: “The benefits of Restorative Justice are two-fold.
“Firstly it helps to reduce reoffending as perpetrators have to take real responsibility for the harm they have caused and it helps them understand the impact their actions have on other people.
“Secondly, unlike something such as a caution, it gives the victim a real chance to be heard and often to get an explanation or apology from an offender for their actions which is really key to helping victims understand and move on from their ordeal.”
Nick Alston, Police & Crime Commissioner for Essex, said: “The case of Anthony quite clearly demonstrates how Restorative Justice can have a positive and profound effect on both the victim and the perpetrator.
“I look forward to more victims across Essex benefiting from the very worthwhile services of the Essex RJ Hub.”
Victims can have their cases referred to the Essex RJ Hub by Essex Police, Victim Support, the prison service and people can even refer themselves.
Cases are assessed for their suitability and then any interactions between victims and perpetrators are organised by volunteer facilitators employed by the hub. Everyone involved must consent to take part. The hub does not deal with cases involving domestic abuse or sexual offending.
To take part in restorative justice victims can get referred by partner agencies – such as Victim Support or Essex Police – or complete the simple self-referral form at the following link https://www.essex.pfcc.police.uk/restorative-justice/.
A short film about the work of the Essex RJ Hub can be viewed here.
*Anthony’s name has been changed for legal reasons.