Restorative Justice (RJ) is a way in which, Cheshire Police deal with conflict between a victim and an offender. It’s also known as common sense policing.
What happens between the victim and the offender?
Restorative Justice involves the offender and victim meeting in an arranged situation to discuss:
- The crime
- Why it took place
- How it made them feel.
It encourages the offenders to acknowledge the impact of their crime, as well as allowing them the opportunity to make reparation (i.e. an apology).
It is not a soft option, many offenders find it difficult to take responsibility and face up to the impact of their crimes. Listening to the victims’ perception of the crime can also be an uncomfortable experience for the offender.
When is it used?
It is most commonly used to deal with minor offences for example, shoplifting, criminal damage and minor assault. The offender may have to:
- Remove graffiti and repair any property that they have damaged
- Meet with shop managers to hear how their crime (i.e. theft) has affected the business and employees
- Write a letter of apology to the victim(s).
When faced with their victim the effects of their crime have a large impact on the offender. This can reduce the chance of them becoming a prolific offender later in life.
Benefits of Restorative Justice
- Make an offender realise how the crime has affected the victim's life
- Find out information to help put the crime behind them - for example, why the offender targeted them. Acts as closure for the victim.
- Ask for reparation, either financial or a verbal apology.
- Reduces Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
- Opportunity to offer an explanation
- Opportunity to apologise
- Opportunity to repair the harm done as a result of the crime
- Often reduces re-offending.
- Puts the need of the victim first
- Gives victims a greater voice in the Criminal Justice System
- Finds positive solutions to crime
- Allows victims to receive an explanation and more meaningful reparation or offenders
- Makes offenders accountable for their actions
- Shows the community that offenders are making up for their actions
- Can in some cases, motivate offenders to stop their criminal behaviour.
- In 2010, 14% of all crimes in Cheshire which were solved ended with a Restorative Justice settlement, bringing the offender and victim into direct contact
- 85% of victims involved in Restorative Justice are happy with the approach, 78% said they would recommend it to other victims.
Cheshire Police and Restorative Justice
Officers and Police Staff in Cheshire have three different Restorative Justice processes (direct, indirect and conferencing) which they can utilise. Having these multiple options available allows Cheshire Police to choose the most appropriate course of action, in order to give the best possible outcome for the victim and to change the behaviour of the offender.
Direct Restorative Justice
This involves face to face contact between the victim, their supporters and the offender. When this method is used officers and staff bring the people together, record the agreed decisions and make sure the offender carries them out. For instance if the offender is required to clean up an area which has been vandalised, the Police Officer or Police Community Support Officer will oversee the work.
Indirect Restorative Justice
This relies on written contact between the victim and offender. It is used when the victim does not want to be involved in a face to face meeting.
Conferencing Restorative Justice
This involves the offender coming face to face with several members of the community who have been affected by his or her behaviour. For instance someone who had defaced an area with graffiti might meet a group of people from the area and hear what they felt about it.