Following the recent Restorative Justice Conference, Inger Lowater, Restorative Justice Co-ordinator for the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, reflects on what was a very successful day:
Clare was stalked and harassed by a former partner for months. He followed her on her holiday, drove past her house, delivered unwanted packages and mail, and contacted her friends and family. The increasingly intense behaviour had a great impact on Clare and her children.
The police were able to help Clare and the stalker was sentenced in court. He did not receive a prison sentence, and Clare felt he had no understanding for what he had done to her and her family.
Working with Restorative Justice facilitators helped Clare stand up for herself and take back her power. Even when the perpetrator refused to take part, Clare felt supported and empowered by working with the RJ facilitators.
Lianne needed a lot of money to pay for the drugs she had become addicted to. Life was all about the next fix, and Lianne committed a number of burglaries to get the money she needed. After going to prison and coming off drugs, Lianne met with some of the people she had burgled.
'One woman told me how her father had recently died, and I had stolen the jewellery he had given her. There was nothing I could do to get it back, and I felt terrible about what I had done'.
Taking part in Restorative Justice helped Lianne change her life, and she now helps people who have been harmed by crime and those who have caused the harm to communicate and try to repair the harm.
Clare and Lianne were three local people who shared their experiences during the recent annual conference of Restorative Together. More than 100 delegates spent a day hearing about the positive impact restorative practices are having across Wiltshire and Swindon.
The purpose of the conference was to highlight the varied ways in which restorative practices can be used inside and out of the criminal justice system.
In addition to hearing about Restorative Justice being used to help victims of crime be heard, and those who commit crimes to take responsibility for the consequences of their actions, the wider use of restorative practices were explored.
Delegates found out how circles (where people sit in a circle to discuss an issue or topic) can be used in the workplace, the amazing effect restorative practice can have in school and the potential and challenges around working towards fully restorative communities.