In preparation for Restorative Justice Week, Dr Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner met with two South Yorkshire victims of crime who have both chosen to meet with their offenders on Tuesday, 14 November.
At a meeting in the Commissioner’s office in Sheffield, Summer Gregg from Doncaster and Martin Young from Sheffield both explained their circumstances and how Restorative Justice helped them.
Martin Young returned home from work one day to find that an intruder was still in his home.
He said: “When I got home, I went in to the house and instantly thought something was wrong. There was a bag under the window that shouldn’t be there and I had an instinct that someone was in the house.
“It was then that the offender jumped out of a first floor window, I chased him and had a bit of a scuffle, but he got away. Police later caught up with him and he received a custodial sentence.
“Even though he was in prison, I still felt anxious, wondering why he chose my house and why he targeted me. I was worried that I might come face to face with him when I was out and about, or that he was looking for revenge.
“I agreed to meet up with him and was surprised to find out that he wasn’t a career criminal that chose a life of crime. Bad things had happened to him in his life that changed him.
“Restorative Justice has provided me with answers to my questions and helped me gain closure and move on with my life.”
Summer Gregg was seriously assaulted in a flat in Doncaster for up to eight hours by a group of people she considered to be friends.
Summer said: “The attack on me left me with both emotional and physical scars. I had heard about Restorative Justice from a magazine. I was interested because it said that perpetrators had a 25% chance of not re-offending again.
“You can never normally ask your offender questions that you want answering. There is no opportunity to do this in court and once they are in prison, I never thought it would be easy to get these answers.
“In my head I kept going over why have you done this to me, are they having a bad time in prison – you can’t move on when you have all these questions for someone who has ruined your life.
“When I met with my offender, I didn’t feel scared. I was there for two hours and I felt refreshed after. I had the opportunity to put my mind at ease and finally get a clear head.”
The South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Dr Alan Billings funds the Restorative Justice provision in South Yorkshire.
He said: “Meeting with Martin and Summer and hearing about their experiences as victims and their positive attitudes to how Restorative Justice has worked for them was remarkable.
“Both of them had been subject to crime committed against them and whilst Summer had to endure an attack, it was also clear to see with Martin, how a person entering your home can affect a person emotionally.
“It was clear to see that restorative justice has helped both of them gain answers to their questions and understand why others have committed the crimes on them.
“I would like to thank them both for their time today and for sharing their stories to help raise awareness of restorative justice and how it helps a victim of crime cope and recover.”
You can hear more about Martin and Summer’s stories and experiences with Restorative Justice in videos published on the South Yorkshire Restorative Justice Hub website – www.restorativesouthyorkshire.co.uk and Twitter @RestorativeSY throughout Restorative Justice Week from 19 November to 25 November.
Restorative Justice is available to any victim of crime at any stage during the criminal justice process. Both the victim and offender need to consent and the process is completely voluntary. You can find more information on the website of by contacting 0800 561 1000.