Why did they target me? Why did he choose my house? What made her do what she did? Will they come again? These are just some of the questions that trouble those who have become victims of crime.
Many people think that the sentencing of an offender is the conclusion, but for some victims that is not the case. They have many unanswered questions, and are unable to move forward because of the impact the crime has had on them.
Restorative justice is a process which brings the victim of crime and offender in the case together, enabling them to communicate, giving the victim a chance to be heard and tell the offender how their actions have affected them.
The process also helps the victims to gain an understanding of the offenders thought process and gain answers to questions that often burden them long after the crime has been committed, helping them to find a positive way forward.
This week, as part of National Restorative Justice Week, Cheshire Police and Crime Commissioner David Keane is raising awareness of the restorative justice services available to victims of crime in Cheshire.
He said: “Restorative justice puts victims at the centre of the criminal justice system; it gives them a voice and allows them to have their questions answered.
“The process is invaluable, and for some people they can only move forward with their lives once they have had their questions answered.”
Restorative justice can also have a significant impact on the offender and has been accepted as an effective tool in preventing reoffending. It humanises the crime for the offender and encourages them to understand the impact and wider implications of their actions.
David added: “Restorative justice is not a soft option; many offenders find it difficult to take responsibility and face up to the impact of their crime as they should do.
“The process brings their crime to life, no longer is it ‘just’ a crime, that crime is now a person and their life has been changed forever as a result of the actions the offender has taken.
“In my opinion there is no doubt that restorative justice can support victims to gain closure on their distressing experiences, whilst at the same time changing offender’s behaviour.”
Restorative justice is a voluntary process, both for the victim and the offender, and is available to anyone who has been a victim of crime in the last six months. Cheshire’s restorative justice services are provided by Remedi UK, who are funded by the Police and Crime Commissioner David Keane.
Remedi UK are a voluntary sector charity founded in 1996. It began providing restorative justice services in Cheshire in July 2016 and has already offered support to nearly 80 victims. In addition to providing restorative justice services the team also provides training across the youth and adult criminal justice system in Cheshire.
If you’ve been a victim of crime and are interested in speaking to someone about restorative justice, you can call 0800 640 6466 or email [email protected] or [email protected]. More information and case studies are also available in the restorative justice section of the website.