A conference held by Hampshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner successfully challenged assumptions around when Restorative Justice is appropriate, with 94% of delegates more likely to refer a victim of crime a result of attending.
Commissioner Michael Lane joined with the Constabulary, Restorative Solutions CIC and local Youth Offending Teams to engage with partners unfamiliar with or unconvinced by the potential benefits of Restorative Justice for the people they are working with. The conference specifically explored the concerns around the use of Restorative Justice in domestic abuse or sexual abuse cases.
Michael Lane: “If Restorative Justice is about giving victims back control, is it right to control who can access it?”
More than 80 partners from across the area attended the conference, including RJ providers, the police, probation services, community safety partners, and those organisations that work with young people and victims of domestic and/or sexual abuse.
In feedback received 94% of attendees said that following the conference they were more, or much more, likely to refer someone for Restorative Justice.
Police Officer: “I was unsure how it could be beneficial to victims of child abuse and domestic violence, but having seen how safe, and how focused on the victim it is, I have completely changed my view.”
Hearing from those who had experienced abuse and the difference that accessing Restorative Justice had made to their lives that had the most impact on the conference delegates.
Wendy, who was sexually abused by her father as a teenager shared her story at the conference and said: “I was pleased to be given the opportunity for Restorative Justice, perhaps more importantly the choice. How could I ever gain any control back without my father hearing my voice.Restorative Justice is one of the best things that I have done for me. It was and still is an amazing feeling to take back the control my father stole from me.
“I had walked through my life for years with a dirty, dark cloud over my head, but after pouring out my inner feelings to him, I saw him with that cloud over his head.
Lucy who suffered Domestic Abuse talked about how Restorative Justice had helped her to get her life back: “It got to the point where I wouldn’t go to the shop for a pint of milk. Now I feel I can get on with my life, my anxiety issues have not gone completely but I am getting there.
“Through Restorative Justice I have got my life back. I didn’t realise how much power he had until I got it back. I feel safer now than when he was behind prison walls.”
Police and Crime Commissioner Michael Lane said:
“Everyone is different, the way they cope with trauma and the support they need to move forward is different. It is important that victims are not automatically excluded because of the type of harm they have experienced, but that decisions are based on the wishes of the individuals involved and professional judgements around case specific safeguarding needs. I would like to thank those who bravely shared their stories at the conference, they were truly inspirational.”