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”.

Continue Reading

Top Restorative Justice Accreditation for Barnsley Neighbourhood Resolutions

Barnsley Neighbourhood Resolution has become one of fourteen organisations in the country to deliver Restorative Justice training to a standard set by the Restorative Justice Council (RJC).

This means that Restorative Approaches, a restorative justice training course run by Neighbourhood Resolutions, is now approved under the RJC’s Training Approval Scheme. The Training Approval Scheme enables providers of facilitation training to demonstrate that their courses meet RJC standards, and helps practitioners, service managers and commissioners identify quality training.

DSC03654Neighbourhood Resolutions have a licence for the next five years to deliver the Restorative Approaches course.

Julie Oxley, Neighbourhood Resolutions co-ordinator said: “We hope to now use this opportunity to provide further training to other practitioners in South Yorkshire to ensure the county continues to deliver the best Restorative Justice opportunities to victims of crime and the residents of South Yorkshire.”

Neighbourhood Resolutions was set up in May 2012 as part of a Ministry of Justice pilot to set up Neighbourhood Justice Panels delivering Restorative Justice in the Barnsley community.

By using community volunteers as an innovative way to tackle anti-social behaviour and low level crime, it is a community partnership, supported and funded by the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, South Yorkshire Police, Barnsley Council and Berneslai Homes.

Dr Alan Billings, the Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “I would like to congratulate Julie and the Neighbourhood Resolutions team, for hard work in achieving this accreditation, but also the excellent work they do in the community.

“Neighbourhood Resolutions can offer a service to communities to resolve neighbourhood disputes and anti-social behaviour issues that could quite quickly escalate into something a lot more serious.

“Julie put a great deal of work in to providing evidence for the accreditation from the Restorative Justice Council and I am very pleased for her that it proved successful.”

Neighbourhood Resolutions was one of 18 organisations nationally to be part of the pilot.  They have been involved in national roadshows, delivered the concept of non-judicial punishment nationally to help local Community Safety Partnerships understand the value of Restorative Justice and how it can empower communities.

Volunteers from across Barnsley have been trained in restorative approaches and regularly deliver Restorative Justice in their local communities.

For more information on Neighbourhood Resolutions or to become a volunteer practitioner, please contact Julie Oxley on 07825 904927 or BarnsleyNeighbourResolution@southyorks.pnn.police.uk

Continue Reading

Restorative Justice: Beryl’s Story

Beryl is a 96-year-old woman who lived on her own after her husband passed away some years previous. She had always been in good health and kept herself fit and well. One day completely out of the blue, Beryl collapsed after having a heart attack; fortunately she was wearing a personal healthcare alarm around her neck and pressed the emergency button. She was taken via ambulance to the hospital where she spent time recovering.

The day after Beryl was taken to hospital, her home was burgled. Beryl was unaware of this at this time. Her hairdresser went to Beryl’s home as they had an appointment and found the property open, the hairdresser went into Beryl’s home and discovered the burglary.

Beryl was told some time after her heart attack about the burglary and she stated that when she found out she ‘nearly had another one’. She initially didn’t want to return to her home and her daughter began looking into alternative accommodation for her. Beryl decided that she wasn’t going to ‘let the burglar’ beat her and went back to her home – she stated that she had had many happy years there.

Beryl had had various items stolen including her jewellery which had great sentimental value to her as they had been bought as gifts by her late husband.

On visiting Beryl, she had a lot of questions that she wanted answers to around the burglary. She wanted to know if her home had been watched, if the offender had seen her having been taken away in an ambulance and therefore knowing that her home would be empty. She felt that by knowing these answers it would give her some closure.

Chase is a 24-year-old man who had been charged with the burglary on Beryl’s home and is currently serving a 3 year prison sentence for the offence. This is the first time that Chase had been sentenced to a custodial sentence. On visiting Chase, he immediately showed a great deal of remorse and empathy for the victim and he also became quite emotional when discussing the burglary. He agreed to indirect communication with Beryl stating that he wanted to try and make ‘things better’ for Beryl.

Chase has battled with a heroin addiction over the past six years. He initially started using heroin to cope with an abusive relationship and quickly became both physically and emotionally addicted to the drug. He stated that he committed the burglary in order to obtain money to fund this addiction.

Beryl wrote to Chase asking him various questions about the burglary to which she wanted answers. Chase responded to Beryl’s letter and wrote a lengthy heartfelt letter back to her answering the questions and informing her that the burglary had been a random act after he noticed that there were no lights on. He also told her how sorry he was for committing the burglary and how ashamed of himself he is and that the guilt he feels is overwhelming. Chase also informed Beryl that he is accessing support and treatment for his drug addiction whilst he is in prison and plans to make positive changes for his future when he is released and he doesn’t want to go back to his ‘old ways’ and never wants to cause another person ‘harm’ again.

On returning to visit Beryl with the letter, she asked for it to be read out to her. As the letter was read she looked quite emotional and afterwards stated that she could hear that Chase was genuinely sorry for his actions. She was pleased that he answered her questions stating that it had now given her ‘peace of mind’ and closure for her.

Beryl had always stated throughout the process that she was ready to move forward and forget about the incident and hopes that the Restorative Justice process would help her to achieve this. However, she did state that she could not forgive Chase for committing the burglary.

After hearing Chase’s words Beryl stated that due to how sorry he was and how genuine the letter was she decided to forgive Chase and wished him well for his future.

When Chase was told that Beryl had forgiven him, he became quite emotional and stated that he thought Beryl was a remarkable lady to be able to forgive him. He also stated that the process has helped him move forward and that he hopes to channel his guilt in a positive manner and concentrate on his recovery.

Beryl said: “I feel better now he has written to me and answered my questions and it has given me peace of mind.

“I have forgiven the offender after making my mind up that I wouldn’t but decided after his letter that I would.

Chase said: “I’ve learned how badly you can hurt people through your own choices.

“People can be so kind, after me doing something so bad – I was still forgiven.”

For more information on Restorative Justice see www.restorativesouthyorkshire.co.uk or call 0800 561 1000 or Text SYRJ to 82055.

**The names have been changed to protect the victim and offender’s identities.

Continue Reading

Restorative Justice: The Offender’s Story

On 17 February 2015, 28-year-old David Etherington from Shafton, Barnsley received a six years and eight months prison sentence for death by dangerous driving.

David was driving a Subaru Impreza around the streets of Doncaster on 29 August when it was involved in a collision with a lamp post at 1.20am.

The incident resulted in the death of Sarah West’s son, 15-year-old Jamie and his dad Stephen who were passengers in the vehicle.

Sarah asked to take part in Restorative Justice as she had some unanswered questions that only David could answer.

Sarah and David met at the prison for the Restorative Justice conference on 15 September 2015.

David said: “I was aware of Restorative Justice from TV which was before I came to prison. Not long after coming to prison I received a leaflet. After reading it, I felt that for me, it was something I wanted to do for the family of my victim.

“I know I can’t change what I have done or make it better, but, this is something that I thought I could do that could be of help to the family.

“The thought of actually meeting my victim’s mum and sitting in front of her knowing what I have done and the effects that my actions have had on her and her family made me very anxious, but I knew this was something I needed to do.

“Once the meeting started I felt a little more comfortable but felt very emotional at the same time, but I was very thankful that I had the opportunity to be able to say what I needed to say and to answer any of Sarah’s questions in the hope of being able to help her understand what had happened and how things had happened, hoping it would give her the answers she needed.

“I am very happy that I had the opportunity to take part in Restorative Justice. I hope that Sarah got out of it what she needed and that it has helped her in some way.”

“I think Restorative justice is a great thing and could benefit many people, both victims and offenders. For victims it can give them the chance to ask questions and for offenders it can make them realise what they have done.”

If anyone would like more information on Restorative Justice in South Yorkshire they can visit the website www.resorativesouthyorkshire.co.uk call 0800 561 100 or text SYRJ to 82055.

Continue Reading

Restorative Justice: Sarah’s Story

On 29 August 2014, 36-year-old Sarah West from Mexborough, DoncastSarah Wester became a victim when her 15-year-old son Jamie was killed in a road traffic collision by 28-year-old David Etherington from Shafton, Barnsley.

David Etherington is currently serving a six-year prison sentence for an offence of Death by Dangerous Driving in which two people lost their lives. The deceased were Jamie aged 15 years and his dad Stephen, age 38.

Sarah was visited by the Restorative Justice provider Remedi as she was interested in Restorative Justice as she needed to know about the events leading up to the accident. Sarah explained that her 15 year old son and his father Stephen were in the car when it crashed. They both lost their lives.

On the day of the meeting Sarah was picked up from her home, she was still very much looking forward to getting the answers she needed but was obviously nervous.

At the Restorative Justice conference, Sarah asked what had happened on that night.  David was overcome with emotion and apologised for what had happened, he recounted the events of the evening, explaining why they were out late at night and why he was speeding.

He told Sarah that everyone in the car was asking him to go faster and he wanted to make them happy so he did. He stated that even though he was asked to go faster he knows it was his choice to speed and not the fault of anyone else in the vehicle.

David apologised again for the death of Sarah’s son, Sarah told him that she wanted him to be able to moCalling Card - Infove on with his life and look after his children, and that what is done is done and he needs to move on as does she. Sarah asked David to look to the future and look after his children when he gets out of prison.

Sarah said: “I didn’t know much about Restorative Justice, but I was glad to have had the opportunity to have the meeting as I feel that the pieces to the jigsaw had been put together. I feel I have got the answers I needed.

“The night after the meeting I had mixed emotions as I felt sorry for David, which made this difficult to deal with at first. I am now pleased to have taken part and would like to thank those that made it possible.

“I didn’t realise how emotional it was going to be, however I feel this experience has really helped.”

If anyone would like further information on Restorative Justice in South Yorkshire, they can visit the website www.restorativesouthyorkshire.co.uk or call 0800 561 1000.

Continue Reading

Restorative Justice Hub proving a success in South Yorkshire

The South Yorkshire Restorative Justice hub was launched on 2 June 2015.  Since then, awareness of Restorative Justice has grown significantly across the county with a large number of victims receiving contact from our trained practitioners.

The hub has processed 1342 cases for initial contact, 245 of which are currently live.  To date, there have been 6 direct Restorative Justice outcomes (face to face meetings) and 15 indirect outcomes (written communication). 37 of our live cases are progressing towards Restorative Justice;14 will result in a direct Restorative Justice outcome between the victim and offender.

What if RJ is the only way you can find answers to your questionsSince the launch of the Restorative Justice Hub, there have been five direct outcomes of a Restorative Justice conference and 15 indirect outcomes, where the victim and offender do not meet, but restorative justice takes place by means of a letter, apology or other action requested by the victim.

A direct Restorative Justice outcome is when a victim can ask to meet the offender who committed the crime against them.  Remedi, South Yorkshire’s Restorative Justice provider visit victims and asses the case and its suitability for Restorative Justice.  If the case is deemed suitable and after relevant risk assessments, the offender will be contacted and asked to take part.

Restorative Justice can take part anywhere.  The meeting can take place in the prison or at an agreed location, subject to it being safe for both the victim and the offender.

Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner for South Yorkshire said:  “I am very pleased with how the South Yorkshire Restorative Justice Hub has been received.  The funding from the Ministry of Justice provided to offer this service has been well used in raising awareness of Restorative Justice, which is a complex issue, but also providing the service.

“Restorative Justice offers victims the opportunity to ask questions of their offenders that they would not normally have the opportunity to do.  When a crime is committed, many victims feel it was personal, that they are still unsafe and sometimes they were to blame.  By having to opportunity to speak to those who have committed the crime, they will find this is very often not the case.

“We are receiving some excellent feedback from industry professionals and victims about the provision.  I hope anyone who is interested in finding out more, takes the opportunity to visit the website or call the information line to see how the service can help them.

Find a new strengthThe Restorative Justice service is being supported by a Ministry of Justice grant provided to the Commissioner and is a partnership initiative led by the South Yorkshire Criminal Justice Board, which comprises criminal justice partners including Office of the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, South Yorkshire Police, Crown Prosecution Service, HMCTS (Her Majesty’s Courts & Tribunals Service), South Yorkshire Community Rehabilitation Company, Youth Offending Teams, Prisons, Legal Aid Agency and Victim Support. Remedi are the service provider for restorative justice in South Yorkshire.

To mark Restorative Justice Week which commenced on 15 November and will run to 21 November, case studies of South Yorkshire victims who have met with their offenders will be shared on the website.

If anyone would like more information on Restorative Justice in South Yorkshire, they can visit the website at www.restorativesouthyorkshire.co.uk call the Helpline Number 0800 561 1000 or Text SYRJ to 82055.

There is also a Twitter account @RestorativeSY that will be tweeting information throughout Restorative Justice Week.

Continue Reading

Dr Alan Billings, Police and Crime Commissioner speaks to The Star about Restorative Justice.

PCC Dr Alan BillingsSome years ago, when I lived in Birmingham, I was burgled in the middle of the day. The thief or thieves must have been watching the house since we only nipped out to the shops for a relatively short time.

It was one of the most stressful things that ever happened to me and my family.

Although we lived in a relatively high crime area, I thought we would be safe because I had two dogs who barked furiously whenever anyone came to the door.

But it didn’t protect us. We came home to find the back door forced and one of the dogs – part German Shepherd – lying stunned on the floor. She had been hit with a piece of wood. We assumed the other dog – a rather giddy Weimaraner – had been chased out of the house by the burglar. It wasn’t until later that we found her whimpering under a bed upstairs.

We looked around to see what had been stolen. Predictably the laptops had gone. But then we noticed something rather strange. The thief had placed all the family photographs face down on the sideboard.

The police officer who came later to dust for finger prints said she had seen this before. “Some of them don’t like to think about the people they are burgling.”

In that comment you have the germ of something that can be used to help bring down crime figures. It’s called Restorative Justice or RJ.

RJ is about bringing the victims of crime and the perpetrators together so that the ones who commit the offence can hear first-hand from the victim about the impact their offending has had. It’s only possible to do this when both victim and offender want it.

But why should anyone, victim or offender, want it?

The answer is that not everyone does. But sometimes they do. Sometimes victims of crime are left with lots of questions: What made him assault me? Why did he burgle my house? Did he not realise the traumatic effect this would have on me and my children? If only I could look him in the eye and tell him just what he did to me.

And sometimes offenders do start to show remorse. The thief who put the photographs of my children face down so he didn’t have to look at them, might have been one.

Above all, for many victims, it gives them a way of exercising a bit of control again in a situation that often leaves them feeling helpless and powerless. Something has been done against them, yet the criminal justice system rolls on and they seem sidelined.

Sometime after my burglary I met a woman who had asked for Restorative Justice. She wrote to the youth who had stolen her car and trashed it. She told him about how this affected her. She was a single mother who relied on the car to get her child to school and herself to work every day. His stealing it had suddenly made her daily life many more times more difficult.

The offender wrote back from the Young Offender Institution where he was being held to say he was sorry. Finally, they met face to face at a carefully managed Restorative Justice conference.

RJ is now available in South Yorkshire for any victims of crime. It’s not an alternative to criminal justice. People who commit offences are dealt with by the courts in the usual way. RJ sits alongside that for those who want it – and it has to be both victim and offender.

It has to be skillfully managed. But the evidence is that it can cut re-offending. And that has to be a good thing for all of us.

Dr Alan Billings, Police and Crime Commissioner for South Yorkshire

http://www.thestar.co.uk/what-s-on/today-s-columnist-dr-alan-billings-justice-for-victims-of-crime-1-7348035

Continue Reading

South Yorkshire Victim Awareness Course

PCC Dr Alan BillingsThe South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Dr Alan Billings, has commissioned a victim awareness course for adult offenders.  The course is aimed at giving victims a greater say in the criminal justice process and diverting the offender away from further offending.

Dr Billings said: “The victim awareness course will be available for police officers to refer offenders to as a condition of either a community resolution or conditional caution.

“It is aimed at diverting suitable offenders from the court system and preventing them from reoffending, by educating them in the error of their actions and allowing them to see other alternatives to becoming a career criminal.”

As part of the course, offenders will have the opportunity to understand how their crime impacts the victim, themselves, their family and the wider community. They will also receive information on how restorative justice can benefit both them and the victim.

Police Sergeant Richard Hammond said, “This is a real opportunity to engage offenders with a meaningful condition as part of an out of court disposal.  Offenders who receive a community resolution are significantly less likely to reoffend than those who receive a simple caution or fixed penalty notice. Victims also get a greater say in the process and opportunities to take part in restorative justice will be increased.”

Continue Reading
Continue Reading

PCC launches RJ hub in South Yorkshire

South Yorkshire PCC, Dr Alan Billings

Today, the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Dr Alan Billings, launches county-wide Restorative Justice campaign

Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner today (Tuesday, 2 June) launched a new county-wide campaign to raise awareness of the restorative justice service offered to victims of crime here in South Yorkshire.

The service offers victims the opportunity to communicate with the offender who committed the crime against them. It is hoped that by offering victims the opportunity to meet with the person who has committed the crime, they will get some important answers and a chance to have their voice heard and help them move on.

Dr Billings said: “The Victims Code now states that all victims are entitled to be given information about restorative justice. Anyone who has been a victim of crime in South Yorkshire is entitled to this service completely free of charge.

“Restorative Justice is a victim focused resolution to crime. It involves bringing the victim and offender in to communication in a safe environment. This partnership initiative is aimed at putting the victim first and providing them with the opportunity to hear the offender admit the crime, to tell the offender how they feel and how the crime has affected them and also to receive an apology.”

Victim of burglaryThe service is being supported by a Ministry of Justice grant provided to the Commissioner and is a partnership initiative led by the South Yorkshire Criminal Justice Board, which comprises criminal justice partners including Office of the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, South Yorkshire Police, Crown Prosecution Service, HMCTS (Her Majesty’s Courts & Tribunals Service), South Yorkshire Community Rehabilitation Company, Youth Offending Teams, Prisons, Legal Aid Agency and Victim Support. Remedi are the service provider for restorative justice in South Yorkshire.

Superintendent Tim Innes said: “Research shows that victims who have taken part in the practice have found it provides closure and gives them the opportunity to find answers from their offender.

“Restorative Justice is available to anyone in South Yorkshire who has been a victim of crime and where there is an identifiable offender that has admitted responsibility. It is available at any stage of the criminal justice process and could help victims cope with the aftermath of a crime.”

Steve Jones, Director of Remedi said: “Remedi have many-questionsoffered a restorative justice service to victim for over 18 years. We have fully trained and accredited practitioners available to work closely with victims and to explore their options for involvement. The process is entirely voluntary and at no time will the victim be pressured in to anything.

“Feedback from victims who have participated is hugely positive with many expressing that involvement has enabled them to gain closure and to move on with their lives.

“The launch of the Restorative Justice Hub and the dedicated website means that more victims will have the opportunity to make an informed choice if restorative justice is something they wish to consider and demonstrates the commitment and vision the partners have to ensuring victims are placed at the heart of the justice process.”

Victim of assaultRestorative justice can be face to face in the form of a restorative justice conference, where the victim has a chance to ask questions of the offender or via a third party through letters or shuttle conferencing, where messages can be passed between the victim and offender.

The restorative justice process is always structured and facilitated through a trained practitioner.

Victims can find out more information about the restorative service at www.restorativesouthyorkshire.co.uk text SYRJ to 82055 or call the dedicated helpline on 0800 561 1000

There is also a new Twitter account set up @RestorativeSY where additional information and good news will be tweeted out.

Victim-of-homicide-banner

Continue Reading