Posted: Monday 29th February 2016
Since starting my role as Restorative Justice Development Manager, I have met some amazing people dedicated to raising awareness of restorative justice and ensuring it becomes embedded across Avon and Somerset.
Restorative Justice (RJ) gives victims the chance to meet or communicate with the offender, to give them a chance to explain the impact the crime has had on them. It really empowers the victims as it gives them a voice. It also holds the offender to account for what they have done and encourages them to face up to their actions.
Every victim in Avon and Somerset can now access RJ at ANY stage of the criminal justice system, as part of an Out of Court Disposal and post sentence. In fact if a victim is not ready at a certain point in time, RJ can even happen a long time after an incident.
An RJ meeting, which is set up by an RJ Co-ordinator, can be used for everything from neighbour disputes to serious crimes. RJ is voluntary and only takes place if everyone agrees to it.
The meeting is held at a neutral location and is led by the RJ professional. Relatives or friends are also welcome to come along for support.
Many people find talking about what happened and how they felt to be a positive experience, and can help them to move on.
One victim said: “For the first time, I was given a voice and the chance to make decisions.”
Another victim said: “I feel much more settled and although it was tough I am really glad I went through the process. You focused on my needs the whole way through. My Dad was worried about me going through the process but I have spoken to my close friends and family and they can see that it was right for me. I want more people know about RJ and how it works.”
A police officer said: “Restorative Justice works because it helps people get over the trauma of the event. We can deal with their offender, we can charge them to court, but they are still left with questions such as why me? Why did you burgle my house? With less resource our time is stretched. If you hand over the crime to the Restorative Justice team the volunteers will do it for you. The victim will get the chance to have better closure. This could mean that there will be less reoffending in the future”
The RJ service has been up and running for over a year now and I would encourage everyone to find out more about restorative justice in Avon and Somerset and you can do so by visiting the Lighthouse website.
If you think that restorative justice might help you, you can also email our RJ Coordinators at email@example.com or call the appropriate coordinator on the numbers provided below:
Restorative Justice Coordinator for Bristol - 0117 9529836
Restorative Justice Coordinator for South Gloucestershire and Bath and North East Somerset - 01278 644904
Restorative Justice Coordinator for Somerset - 01278 645023
Restorative Justice Development Manager