Two Cumbrians have shared their experiences of restorative justice with Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall, as part of National Restorative Justice week. Katie* and Rebecca* met with the PCC virtually to discuss why the sought restorative justice over more traditional methods of justice. Restorative justice focuses on repairing the harm caused by criminal behaviour with the victim and perpetrator communicating about how the crime affected both parties.
Rebecca’s brother was the victim of a murder and she reached out to Remedi after years of wanting to ask the offender questions. Remedi arranged contact between Rebecca and the offender via a third person contact and letters. Katie agreed to restorative justice following a referral from the Police after a dispute with a neighbour that began to escalate. Remedi, the restorative justice organisation in Cumbria commissioned by the PCC, were able to step in and help mediate the situation.
Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall, who commissions Remedi in Cumbria, said: “It was really moving to hear the experiences of Rebecca and Katie.
“As a society we are beginning to move away from the idea that every indiscretion should be dealt with by the Police and now smaller acts of vandalism, anti-social behaviour etc. can be dealt with restoratively if both parties agree.
“Restorative justice won’t be the right answer in ever case but in some it is a good option to avoid criminalising young people for first or relatively minor offences.
“Neither should it be viewed as a ‘soft option,’ sometimes it is tougher to face up to your offence and the victim, to accept responsibility for your own actions, than it is to face a magistrates court.
“Of course serious crimes must go through the traditional justice system but restorative justice can also play a part in this providing answers to the victim or the victim’s family and the perpetrator getting a better understanding about how their acts have affected someone else.
“Restorative Justice is a really beneficial option and I know that it can help both victims to recover and perpetrators to prevent further crime.”
Katie said: “The process of mediation with Remedi has helped me and my neighbour discuss and resolve issues in a calm and productive way that wouldn’t have been possible to do on our own.”
Rebecca said: “Throughout my time with Remedi, I finally feel after all the years I received the answers I and my family longed for.
“I felt safe throughout the process and everything was explained to me throughout and all my questions were answered.
“We as a family have now found some closure and peace of mind. We will never forget what happened but what’s important is we no longer need to be afraid.
“I came out of this process feeling a huge weight had been lifted after so many years.
“My only regret is had I have known about this service I would have done it years ago.”
David Bates, manager of restorative justice service, Remedi, said: “Remedi have over 20 years’ experience of working with victims of crime to support them and their families.
“With the support of the Police and Crime Commissioner in Cumbria we are keen to reach out to all victims of Crime to consider using Restorative Justice to help them better cope and recover from these events.
“Restorative Justice can be a powerful tool that victims can use to get answers to question’s only the offender could answer, or safely express to those causing the harm the impact of the crimes upon them and their families.
“It’s a confidential, free to use service and we very much welcome victims contacting us if they wish to learn more, thus enabling them to make an informed choice as to if they wish to take up the opportunity of Restorative Justice.”
*Names have been changed to protect the identities of the victims.