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Guest blog: New restorative justice service

Posted: Thursday 31st August 2017
Blog: 2017
Victims often say that they want the offender to know the impact of the crime, and have questions such as “why me”, or want to stop the offender doing the same to other people. Providing the offender has admitted guilt, Restorative Justice gives victim a voice, can help have their questions answered and is likely to help repair the harm caused. Offenders often want to apologise and to do something to help put things right.

Restorative justice gives victims and offenders a chance to communicate with each other which is carefully and safely managed by trained practitioners. Many people find satisfaction through the process and it helps them move on.

As of June this year, a new service ‘Restorative Approaches Avon and Somerset’ is now providing Restorative Justice across Avon and Somerset. It is being delivered by Bristol Mediation in partnership with Avon and Somerset Police and is funded by the Office of Police and Crime Commissioner.

Some of the people we recently helped include an older couple who were abused and assaulted in a road rage incident. Our practitioners arranged a meeting between the older couple and the man who apologised profusely which helped them recover from the distress the crime had caused.

In another incident a young person had trashed a proud, gardeners’ plants during a drunken rampage. The home owner was angry that all the work she had put into the garden had been ruined. In the meeting the young person was really affected to hear directly how much hurt he had caused. As part of the agreement made in the meeting the young man agreed to help the victim repair the fence he had damaged.

In yet another case we were approached by the victim of an attempted murder, seven years on, who wanted to meet her attacker who was due for release on licence. She wanted to meet him in person in a safe environment. The meeting was carefully managed by two, very experienced practitioners and was a very moving event.

The offender was extremely remorseful and was keen to explain how he had reformed by attending various programmes in prison. The victim said afterwards that she felt much stronger for having the courage to meet the offender. She said it would help her feel safer if she ever saw him in the street after his release.

Sometimes communication is by letter. Supervised letters between an offender and a woman who had a very sentimental piece of jewellery stolen was able to express her distress and the apology from the offender helped her move on from the loss.

The service has helped young people, adults, families, communities and those with additional complexities or other difficulties in their lives.

We have a team of well-trained volunteer practitioners who carry out the work with clients. We are grateful for the enthusiasm and dedication of volunteers who have the time and care to listen to the needs of victims and ensure that carefully supervised communication between the parties brings benefits to both victims and offenders as a result of the offenders actions.

Victims or offenders can either access the service directly or through the Police or other agencies. They can talk in confidence to a caseworker who will discuss how the service might be able to help.

We can be contacted by phone on 0117 941 5879, by text on 07377 864 060, or by email at cases@restorative-approaches.org.

Paul Holder
RAAS Coordinator

For more information about the RJ service click here.

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