Restorative Justice Week runs from 20 November to 27 November this year and the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Dr Alan Billings is providing his full support to victims here in South Yorkshire.
Restorative Justice is the process where a victim has the opportunity to communicate with their offender through a direct or indirect channel.
Direct Restorative Justice is where a victim can ask to meet with the offender that committed a crime against them. This meeting is facilitated by trained professional Restorative Justice practitioners. An indirect Restorative Justice approach would be messages or letter passed by the practitioners between a victim and an offender,
Dr Billings said: “In South Yorkshire we have a Restorative Justice Hub. This Hub is a staffed by a dedicated person, who considers every crime committed and assesses the suitability of each for Restorative Justice. Suitability means there must be an offender and there must be no restrictions on the victim and offender communicating. The details are then referred to Remedi, our Restorative Justice provider.
“Remedi will contact the victim to discuss with them if they would like to access the Restorative Justice service. If they wish to go ahead, a series of risk assessments are carried out with both the victim and the offender and arrangements are made for contact, if it is considered safe to do so.
“I often get asked why a victim would want to meet someone who has caused them harm, sometimes in a physical way, but more often in an emotional way. The answer is always personal to the victim, but, most often, the victim wants to ask why: Why me? Why my property? Why did you do it? Was it personal? They also want to make sure that it won’t happen again.
“We launched the hub back in June 2015 and have seen some excellent results with direct Restorative Justice conferences occurring from crimes such as burglary, death by dangerous driving and shoplifting. Most victims who take up the offer of Restorative Justice do come away with their questions answered and a feeling of closure. Many also receive a personal apology”
The South Yorkshire Restorative Justice Hub is available to any victim of crime, during any part of the criminal justice process. There is a bespoke website available www.restorativesouthyorkshire.co.uk and a Twitter account that you can follow @restorativesy
Jon Collins is the Chief Executive of the Restorative Justice Council. He said: “Restorative Justice can have a significant impact by helping victims to recover from crime and move on with their lives. A victim will often feel isolated, confused and in need of answers to questions that only the offender can give – restorative justice gives them the opportunity to ask those questions.
“It also allows offenders to realise the impact of their actions and to make amends. For some offenders, hearing first hand from the person they’ve harmed can provide the impetus to change their offending behaviour, and restorative justice is proven to reduce reoffending by 14%.
“South Yorkshire has come a long way in educating their communities on the availability of restorative justice and I wish them well with their continued work in this area.”