Police Officers to Provide Information to Victims on Restorative Justice

Police Officers in Rotherham have been receiving refresher training on the benefits of restorative justice throughout the district over the past couple of months.

Officers have received the training in a push to increase their understanding of restorative justice services available in the county and ensure that victims are being made aware of the service, its benefits and how they can access it.

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The Work of Community Justice Panels in South Yorkshire

There are four community justice panels in South Yorkshire working within local communities to resolve neighbour disputes and low level crime using restorative practices.

Each district within South Yorkshire has its own community justice panel that are funded by the Police and Crime Commissioner, Dr Alan Billings, the local councils, South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue and local housing authorities.

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Season’s Greetings to the Man who Burgled My House

As part of Restorative Justice Week, victims in South Yorkshire are coming forward to speak about their experiences of Restorative Justice.

Judith Gilbert became a victim of crime when her offender selected her insecure property to steal from.  During a hot evening in July 2015, her home where she lives with her husband in Sheffield was targeted and burgled.

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Daniel’s Story of In-Direct RJ

Daniel Simpson, 30, lives in Doncaster.  On the 5 September 2015wp_20161121_11_07_19_pro, he became a victim of crime when a man, unknown to him bit his ear off in an unprovoked attack outside a shop in Thorne.

Daniel was waiting for a friend outside the shop with his friend’s dog. The offender Daniel Reed was driving down the street in his car.  As he approached Daniel Simpson, he noticed the dog was pulling on the lead.

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Restorative Justice Week supported by the PCC

Restorative Justice Week runs from 20 November to 27 November this year and the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Dr Alan Billings is providing his full support to victims here in South Yorkshire.

Restorative Justice is the process where a victim has the opportunity to communicate with their offender through a direct or indirect channel.

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South Yorkshire Restorative Justice Hub continues to support victims of crime

Restorative Justice was back in the news again last week when a report by the Justice Committee of MPs advised that the provision for restorative justice was currently a postcode lottery.

This is not the case for residents in South Yorkshire. Any victim living in South Yorkshire can access restorative justice at any point in the criminal justice process through the South Yorkshire Restorative Justice Hub.  The ‘hub’ is funded by the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings, and was launched in June 2015.

Restorative Justice allows victims the opportunity to meet or contact the person who committed the crime against them.  This could be a direct meeting or contact through letters or messages. The offender also has to be willing to meet the victim.

It is clearly not something for everyone – victim or offender. But some value the chance to make contact – victim and offender.

There have been many successful outcomes in South Yorkshire, with a number of victims actually meeting their offender to ask important questions that has helped them move on with their lives.  Victims often just want to ask why the crime was committed against them.  They wanted reassurance that they were not targeted and that the perpetrators were not coming back.

Calling Card - InfoDr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner said: “It is extremely important that victims understand that they can access Restorative Justice here in South Yorkshire.  Victims can self-refer themselves in to the South Yorkshire Restorative Justice Hub and the hub coordinator will then do all the necessary work to ensure the victims’ needs are met.

“Restorative Justice aims to give the victims a voice and help ‘restore’ or ‘repair’ any harm that may have been caused from the crime being committed against them. Whilst it is not for everybody, many that have been through the process agree that it has given them some closure.

“Here in South Yorkshire, I am encouraged by the number of referrals received by the hub and just how many of these have resulted in direct or in-direct outcomes.  I would urge anyone who thinks that Restorative Justice will help them to make contact.”

In the first year, the South Yorkshire Restorative Justice Hub dealt with 286 interested parties, of which 96 resulted in a direct or in-direct outcome.

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Restorative Justice – Sarah’s Story

Sarah West was your typical mum living in Mexborough, Doncaster.  That was until she received the terrible news to say that her 15-year-old son Jamie had been tragically killed in a car crash.

The driver of the vehicle was sentenced six years and eight months in prison for death by dangerous driving.

In the following video, Sarah explains why she chose to meet the driver of the vehicle that resulted in the death of Jamie and how she feels that Restorative Justice helped her piece together events of that evening.

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Restorative Justice – Shannel’s Story

Restorative Justice – Shannel’s Story

Shannel Johnson made front page news when the following video was shown at our South Yorkshire Restorative Justice Showcase event earlier in the year.

Whilst working in a shop in Sheffield, a young man came in with the intention of stealing.  As Shannel was made aware of his actions, she tried to stop him.  In this video, Shannel explains the events surrounding the incident and how by meeting her offender in a Restorative Justice conference, she no longer felt as though she was the victim.

To read more on Shannel’s story please click here for the article in the Sheffield Star.

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South Yorkshire showcases successful Restorative Justice provision

Dr Alan Billings South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner hosted the South Yorkshire Restorative Justice showcase on Wednesday 9 March at the Rotherham United Aesseal New York stadium.

The showcase was attended by over 100 delegates who heard accounts from victims, offenders, service-users, community justice panels co-ordinators and volunteers, police officers and service provider Remedi representatives.  The order of events followed the Restorative Justice provision in South Yorkshire’s journey and provided information on how the service can be accessed.

DSC_0370The event started with an opening speech from Dr Billings, who explained his own personal experience with crime and how a burglary at his home many years ago made him think about the effect of a crime on the offender.

Dr Alan Billings said: “Today’s showcase has highlighted very strongly the benefits of Restorative Justice to both the victim and the offender.  We have heard from Sarah who lost her son in a tragic dangerous driving incident and how Restorative Justice has helped her piece together a jigsaw with many missing pieces.

DSC_0358“Shannel, a remarkable woman who not only chose to meet the man who assaulted her in a shoplifting incident in Sheffield, but found herself hugging him at the end of the Restorative Justice conference.  There was also a young offender who bravely stood in front of over 100 professionals and admitted he was wrong in his actions and showed how he is now turning his life around and attributed this change to his restorative justice experience.”

The audience heard from guest speakers Professor Joanna Shapland from the University of Sheffield who spoke about her research in to Restorative Justice and the difficulty of engaging victims and offenders when they know very little about what it means.

Inspector Richard Hammond explained about how the South Yorkshire Restorative Justice Hub works and highlighted its success since the launch in June 2015.  He said: “715 victims have been contacted personally by the South Yorkshire Restorative Justice Hub of which 426 took part in a home visit from a Remedi practitioner and so far over half of these have expressed an interest in taking part in a Restorative Justice outcome.

“Victims and organisations can refer in to the hub at any stage of the criminal justice process if they feel they would like more information on Restorative Justice.”

DSC_0462South Yorkshire’s Restorative Justice provider Remedi’s Assistant Director Nicola Bancroft spoke about the benefits of Restorative Justice to the victims.  She explained that seeing a victim and offender in a Restorative Justice conference can be extremely satisfying.  This is especially so when you see the positive impact on a victim from hearing answers to questions and finally being able to tell a person who has committed a crime against them how they feel.

Linda Mayhew from the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner who organised the event said: “I am really pleased with the reaction to the speakers today.  We have heard some fascinating accounts of Restorative Justice in practice,  how to access the service here in South Yorkshire and the positive benefits of taking part from both victim and offender perspective.

“The service users all gave some very specific and personal accounts of their experiences and I am very grateful to them all for sharing these with us.”

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Restorative Justice provider interviewed on ITV’s Tonight Programme

On Thursday, 3 March at 7.30pm, the Tonight programme called Tonight: Meeting My Enemy will be shown on ITV which will include an interview with Remedi’s Assistant Director Nicola Bancroft.

Nicola will be speaking about the benefits of Restorative Justice to victims of crime by highlighting a recent case Remedi case workers dealt with.

The Restorative Justice conference brought together the parents of James Hodgkinson, who sadly died after being assaulted in Nottingham City Centre in July 2011 and Jacob Dunne, the offender that threw the punch that subsequently led to James’s death.

Jacob pleaded guilty to the offence and served 14 months of his 30 month prison sentence.  He met with James’s parents in September 2015 and the ITV footage shows how they met up again after their initial conference to now work together on a campaign highlighting to others that one punch can kill.

Calling Card - InfoRestorative Justice offers victims the opportunity to meet or engage with the offender who has committed the crime against them.  The Restorative Justice process can happen face to face or by indirect contact such as letters or messages passed by representatives.  It gives victims the chance to tell offenders the real impact of their crime and get answers or an apology.

Nicola Bancroft assistant Director for Remedi said: “Restorative Justice is very powerful and can provide a number of positive outcomes for a victim; their family and the offender.

“In Thursday’s programme I will be speaking about the benefits of Restorative Justice and how Remedi supported James’s parents and Jacob throughout the Restorative Justice process.

“In the case of James and Jacob, James’s parents said involvement in RJ has helped to take their anger away, they now feel they have answers to questions and can see that Jacob did not intend to kill their son. The outcome of this process and the work they intend to do together to raise awareness, will hopefully benefit others in the future”.

“I would encourage anyone who has an interest in Restorative Justice to watch the programme.”

Remedi are the Restorative Justice providers for the South Yorkshire Restorative Justice Hub.

Director Anna Hall has taken two years to produce the film for ITV.  She says: “It’s been remarkable watching the process of Restorative Justice in action.

“In the film we feature two cases, both involving 19 year old lads. The questions which were answered through this process clearly brought peace of mind and an ability for the victims to move on from the pain of the crime itself”.

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