What is restorative justice?
Restorative Justice gives those who have been affected by anti-social behaviour or crime the opportunity to explain how they have been affected to the person who has caused the harm, and have a voice in deciding on how that harm may be repaired. It gives both parties the opportunity to find a positive way forward.
This is a case that was referred to our in-house restorative justice co-ordinator. It shows how restorative justice can repair soured relationships between two households.
A young man decided to celebrate leaving school by setting fire to his course work in the garden. The fire got out of hand setting a tree alight followed by the victim’s fence and her shed roof.
The victim complained to their Whitefriars neighbourhood officer who referred the case to Whitefriars’ Restorative Justice Co-ordinator, Stephen Williams.
Stephen visited the victim to find out more. The victim had been on holiday when she received a call to say her garden was on fire. Not knowing the extent of the damage she was distressed by what had happened. She received a verbal apology from the offender’s mum but felt it was half hearted. The neighbours stopped talking. Before this, they had got on well.
Stephen then met with the offender and his mother to get their side of the story.
The next step was to bring the neighbours together at a neutral venue facilitated by two restorative justice co-ordinators.
The offender admitted fault and talked about how the fire came about.
The victim then spoke in detail about how the fire and the damage it caused affected her. She wanted an apology and for the offender to pay for the repairs from his own pocket rather than his mum footing the bill. He did apologise and agreed to her request to pay for the repairs.
Stephen followed up the case a month later. Both parties said they were happy with the outcomes. The neighbour said, “I don’t think I’d have got the same outcomes without your help.” And the offender’s mum said, “Everything is good. I was very impressed with you and the way you handled the case. You were very patient.”
How to access restorative justice services
If you think the restorative justice approach my help you, who you contact depends on where you live.
Birmingham: visit The Birmingham Restorative Justice Service website
Coventry: email firstname.lastname@example.org