If you’ve been the victim of a crime or anti-social behaviour the thought of meeting the person responsible might be a daunting prospect. For many people however, talking about what happened and how they were made to feel helps them to move on from the experience.
This process is called Restorative Justice and can be used in everything from neighbour disputes to serious crimes. Evidence shows that 85% of victims who take part come away feeling satisfied, and it can lead to a reduction in reoffending too.
A Restorative Justice professional will talk to you about the impact and consequences of what happened, and what could be done to make things better for you. They will ask you if you would like to communicate with or meet the person who has committed the crime or anti-social behaviour.
After this the person who has committed the crime or anti-social behaviour also has the chance to talk to the Restorative Justice professional. This involves talking about the harm caused and what could be done to make amends. They are also asked if they want to meet you.
If both say yes, then you will be given the opportunity to talk about what happened in a meeting. The Restorative Justice professional will organise this for you.
The meeting is called a Restorative Justice conference. It is voluntary and only takes place if everyone agrees to it. It is held at a neutral location at a time which is convenient to you and is led by the professional facilitator. You will be able to bring along relatives, friends or other people to give you support.
Whats in it for me?
A Restorative Justice conference gives you a chance to meet with the other person and talk about what happened. This might include:
Whats in it for them?
Restorative Justice helps offenders too and in some cases can lead to a reduced likelihood of them re-offending in the future. The conference helps them by:
When can Restorative Justice be used?
Restorative Justice is available to all victims of crime and anti-social behaviour across Avon and Somerset, and can be used for many different types of crime and at any stage of the criminal justice process.
If a meeting with the person who caused you harm is not appropriate the Restorative Justice professional may be able to coordinate an alternative restorative intervention such as a letter of apology or other means of contact.
For any kind of communication to take place, the offender must take responsibility for their actions and both parties must be willing to engage with the process.
We at Lighthouse believe that every victim should be given the choice. Restorative Justice is always voluntary, there is no obligation to take part.
As a victim you are entitled under the Victim's Code of Practice to access information about Restorative Justice and how you can take part. Click here to read more about your rights
To find out more or to speak to someone about Restorative Justice, you can contact the Restorative Approaches Avon & Somerset (RAAS) service on 0117 9415879 or email: email@example.com.
Please note that emails/phones are not monitored during evenings and weekends. In an emergency please call 999 and in a non-emergency call 101.
What is public opinion?
A poll commissioned by the Restorative Justice Council in 2016 found that 80% of the public believe that victims of crime should have the right to meet their offender. Among people who had been a victim of crime, this figure rose to 85%. The polling also highlighted that only 28% of people had heard of Restorative Justice. In Lighthouse we are working hard to increase awareness of the service across Avon and Somerset. To read the full report click here
A victim’s guide to Restorative Justice - a film for victims of crime explaining the different points in the criminal justice system where you can access restorative justice. It also tells you who you can contact if you want to make use of this approach.
Watch Moving on, a short film by the Restorative Justice Council - a re-enacted portrayal of a real Restorative Justice Conference.
For more films and stories of people who have experienced restorative justice, you can visit the Restorative Justice Council website, or join in the facebook and twitter conversations about restorative justice.
If you would like to provide any feedback or make a complaint about your service, please email firstname.lastname@example.org