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November 14, 2016

Yorkshire Mediation: Restorative Justice

What is Restorative Justice?

Restorative Justice (RJ) is a voluntary process that brings together those that have been harmed by crime, and those responsible for that harm.

The process is facilitated by trained RJ facilitators.

The idea is that all parties can have a better understanding of what happened, how people were affected, and work towards repairing harm if possible.

Why would people want to do it?

Research shows that there can be benefits for all people involved.  It shows that offenders and victims report a high level of satisfaction from taking part – most people say they would recommend RJ to others. 

Understanding what happened can also help people move on from an experience that may have been traumatic or upsetting.  It can also provide health benefits, as people make steps towards their post-crime recovery.  Others report feeling that they are taking control of their lives again.

Case study

Angela is a 72 year old woman who lives by herself.  She was disturbed one night by someone breaking into her garage.  She phoned the police, who responded quickly, and the burglar was caught and sent to prison.  She was offered Restorative Justice via the police, and two facilitators came to talk to her about it.

Angela said that she had not been frightened by the experience, but she did make more of an effort to check that she had locked up at night.  She also found that little noises woke her at night, and she always had to get up and check what they were “just in case.”  

She said that she was angry because the burglar had made such a mess of the garage, and had destroyed some of the property that she stored there.  She wanted to know what the burglar was doing and what he was looking for.  She also wanted to tell him how angry she was about the things that had been broken.

The facilitators went to HMP Leeds and spoke with Steve, the offender.  Steve said that he had been looking for things to steal so he could sell them to fund his drugs habit.  Now that he was in prison and off drugs, he felt guilty and embarrassed about what he had done, and was keen to apologise.  

Facilitators organised for Angela and Steve to meet to discuss what had happened.  Angela explained about the damage that Steve had done and her anger at the mess he had made.  Steve listened, and apologised.  He said that he had been using drugs at the time of the burglary and they had become his main concern.  Angela challenged him to change his drug use and make better decisions with his life.  She asked that she be kept up to date with his progress, and Steve agreed to write to her (via the facilitators) until he was released.  They parted on good terms.

Soon after the meeting, Angela reported that she was sleeping better, and not so easily disturbed.  She felt safer in her house, knowing more about Steve and his progress.  Steve, in the meantime, started attending a support group to help him move away from his drug using lifestyle.  Both said that they were really glad to have had the opportunity to meet.

Could you help?

Yorkshire Mediation is always looking for volunteers to train as RJ facilitators.  They range from people in their 20s to people in their 70s.  We’re looking for people who are 18+, interested in Restorative Justice, confident, outgoing, able to work with initiative, reflect on their practice, and have the time and flexibility to take on different cases throughout Leeds.

Contact Caroline at Yorkshire Mediation – 0113 242 4110, or  

She would be happy to discuss RJ further with you.