Case Study 1:
Serious Injury by Dangerous Driving
Offence and Referral details
This case was one of Causing Serious Injury by Dangerous Driving. As a result of the offence, the victim sustained numerous serious injuries, and another victim sadly died. The offender, through his Offender Supervisor, referred himself for Restorative Justice whilst in custody upon hearing there was a new service available.
Our first steps
The first step to progress the case was to conduct an Initial Assessment of the offender. The offender stated that Restorative Justice is something that he had continually asked for since being sentenced and that he wanted to take part in order to apologise to the victim and explain that there was no intention to hurt anyone. The offender explained that the offence was as a result of him taking his mother’s car without her permission and not knowing how to use the windscreen wipers, causing him to swerve and crash into the victims.
Due to the case being Sensitive and Complex in nature, it was necessary to see if any other partner agencies were working with the victim before contacting him. After confirming that the victim was not receiving support from a Victim Liaison Officer, initial contact was made by Remedi within the West Midlands RJ Hub, the victim was keen to meet to discuss RJ further.
During the Initial Assessment, the victim described how it had been a ‘normal working day’, until he found himself waking up injured on the other side of the road. The victim stated he had always wondered since it happened whether a service like Remedi’s existed, and that he wanted to take part in Restorative Justice to explain the impact to the offender and to give him some advice for the future.
Although the victim did not have any specific questions for the offender, there were topics of conversation that it was important to prepare both parties for prior to the direct conference taking place. It was necessary to prepare the victim for hearing that the offender had briefly fled the scene following the offence. Additionally, it was important to prepare the offender for hearing that the surviving victim and deceased victim had swapped places just prior to the moment of impact.
The direct conference was facilitated in a private room at the National Probation Service office that the offender attends. After introductions and an explanation of the ground rules, the victim began by explaining events from his perspective. The victim described to the offender the impact, both physical and mental, that the offence had on him, including his injuries and recovery. Although the victim stated that he knew the offender’s actions were not intentional, he also stated that he had never heard why the offender had crashed, and so this was followed by the offender explaining events from his perspective. Other topics of conversation then followed, including: – the ripple effect felt by the victim’s family, the offender’s use of his time in prison, and an apology from the offender which was accepted by the victim. The direct conference finished with the victim and offender embracing each other and wishing each other the best for the future.
After allowing some time for both parties to reflect upon the direct conference, feedback was obtained from both the victim and the offender. As for the victim, he felt that the meeting could not have gone any better, both for himself and for the offender. The victim stated that hearing the offender speak about how he lost control of the car allowed him to gain a better sense of the whole situation and in turn, allowed him to have closure. The V went on to state that he was surprised by how much he got out of Restorative Justice, explaining how he did not go in to the meeting hoping to get answers or closure, but that ultimately, he was provided with both.
In terms of the offender’s feedback, the offender agreed with the victim’s assessment that the meeting could not have gone better and stated that he was very glad to have taken part. The offender also stated that since taking part in Restorative Justice, he thinks about the offence less. The offender explained that now, when he thinks about the offence, he thinks about the meeting with the victim and so can think about what he has done in a more positive way.
Case Study 2:
Racially motivated Assault (at a college)
Offence and Referral Details
This case was a community resolution referred by West Midlands police. During a classroom debate in relation to terrorism, the victim made a comment which was deemed by the offender to be racist, the offender then went on to assault the victim.
Our first steps
The case was referred into the West Midlands RJ Hub and allocated to Remedi. Once received, we began the case by calling the referring police officer to gather all necessary details on the case. Once we were assured that victim contact was appropriate, the victim was called. We spoke to both him and his father the victims were expecting the call, and happily agreed to meet with us. As the victim was under 18, we required his parent’s consent and the parents were present at the meeting.
Next, I called offenders mother, she also said she had been expecting the call. We then spoke with the offender and arranged to meet both offender and his mother. Like the victim, the offender was under 18, hence parental consent and presence was required.
To begin, we met with the offender and his mother for the initial assessment. Throughout, the offender expressed taking full responsibility for his role in the offence and acknowledged it could have had a huge effect on the victim. The offender believed communicating with the victim would motivate him not to reoffend, as well as allowing him to apologise. The offender explained that he was angry at the time as he believed the victim had insulted his religion, he now accepts that even if the victim did insult his religion, he has no right to assault him. During the assessment offender said that other students at college, who are friends of the victim, have threatened him. This posed concerns to the offender, as one of these individuals was known to carry a knife. This was reported through Remedi’s Safeguarding Policy and onto the referring officer who said he would note in the system and keep an eye on the situation.
Following this, myself and colleague met with victim and his father for the victim initial meeting. We informed Victim that the mother of offender was sorry for what had happened and wanted him to know that. Once the victim knew the offender wanted to apologise, he agreed to direct RJ.
As the incident took place at the college we thought it may be a good place to hold the direct conference, I called the college and spoke to the tutor of both pupils who agreed it would be good to have the conference at the college and asked if she could attend to support the conference as both parties are under the age of 18 which after checking with both victims and offender and their parents was agreed.
The victim and offender were met several more times in order to ensure they were both fully prepared for the direct meeting.
On the day of direct meeting, one practitioner met with victim at college, did a run through of what would be happening and set the room up. The victim was anxious but was ready to get the meeting completed and was made aware he had our full support. The second practitioner collected the offender from home with his parent, did some preparation with him to ensure he was ready for the process, then brought him to the college. The College tutor was present throughout the meeting, who had also been impacted by the offence within her class room. She thanked everyone for attending and the bravery it took for them to get to this point. We then did an introduction of everyone in meeting, went over the rules for the meeting. Following the preparation, the victim opened with a statement telling offender how the incident had impacted him, made him feel angry and caused his behaviour. The victim was able to further discuss with the offender, the effects on his feelings, and education. The offender was able to apologise and explain his thoughts before and after the offence, and how he felt hearing the information the victim had told him. It was a shock to the offender to hear the victim had family whom are of the same ethnicity and religion as the offender. Both the victim and the offender together came up with an outcome agreement to try and resolve any issues if a disagreement arose between them in the future.
Following the meeting the offender spoke about how going through the process made him realise the impact it had on the victim he realises how the consequences of his actions extended to beyond the physical hurt of the assault. He thinks this process will help prevent him from ever entering a similar situation in the future; as he got involved for believing what his friend had said at face-value and didn’t really question how true it was. He also said that he never would have believed his friend had he known the victim had family who were the same faith as the offender. He says that this process has made him realise that he needs to question what other people say and not just believe them because they are his friends. Feedback from the victim was that he needed to get this of his chest, and he was glad he could give the offender “a piece of his mind” without being physical he said he now feels a sense of relief after hearing the offender’s apology.
Case Study 3:
92 year old Nun meets her burglar!
This case was a West Midlands Police burglary case. The offender had committed a burglary at a church in Birmingham city centre. He had entered the church and found his way upstairs to the living quarters and stole a bag which belonged to a nun that resides in the church. The offender went on to spend £1000 from the nun’s bank account. The offender was sentenced to 3 years for this crime and a number of other burglaries that he had committed.
A number of months after being sentenced, the offender wrote a letter of apology to his victim. This spurred the victim on to contact the police officer that had dealt with the case and asked if she could meet with the offender in prison. The case was then referred to The West Midlands RJ Service team and allocated to a member of the team.
The co-ordinator met with the victim, a 92 year old nun, at the church where she resided. I explained how RJ would work, and that we would be able to plan, organise and facilitate the meeting with the offender. The victim was very keen and told us that she felt that she could not rest until she met with him. She explained the events on the day of the crime and that the offender had committed the crime during a busy service at the church. The crime had a massive impact on the victim and she described that she spent the weeks following the incident, worried and would not leave the church. She felt that he would recognise her and potentially cause her harm again. The victim had some sentimental items in her bag and was upset that she had lost the keys for her locker, which meant that she could not obtain her belongings. She told us that she had since forgiven him and prays for him daily along with other members of the church.
On receiving the letter the victim felt very touched by the offender’s honesty as he described that he had a drug addiction for over 20 years and that he was sorry and remorseful for his crimes. The victim felt as though she wanted to help him. She expressed that she was in strange sort of way, grateful that this had happened to her, as that saved someone else from the same harm. The victim stated that she could not rest until she had met with the offender, which we assured her we would arrange and facilitate for her.
The co-ordinator liaised with HMP Birmingham, Restorative Justice Team, to be informed that the offender had been moved to another prison just the day before. The Prison RJ team were very supportive and managed to arrange for the offender to be moved back to HMP Birmingham to facilitate the RJ conference as close as possible for the victim due to her age and mobility. The offender agreed and was very keen to make amends for his crime. An RJ preparation visit was booked with the offender on his return.
During the prep meeting the offender spoke at length about his criminal history and drug use, his family life and what lead him to a life of crime. He also spoke to us about the day of the crime. He was in a very bad place and heavily reliant on drugs. He described himself as an opportunist, and that day “it could have been anyone”. He had gone into the church as it was very busy and found himself upstairs, he said that he did not know that people lived in the church. The offender was very open and was very much interested in the RJ process for the right reasons. There were no benefits to taking part in terms of sentence reduction and he simply wanted to say sorry to his victim and let her know that she was not targeted and that he did not want her to feel unsafe. After speaking to both parties it was evident that both parties wanted to help the other to move on from this incident and the effects of it.
The Conference was conducted. The offender started off with a heartfelt apology for his crime. He talked us through the events on the day of the crime. He explained that he was at a bad place emotionally and his battle with drug use, recent breakup with his partner and separation from his children. He continuously said that he was not making any excuses and that this was no justification for his actions. He said that he had not targeted her specifically and did not want her to feel as though she needed to be afraid of future.
The victim spoke to the offender about the letter that he sent and told him that he had been very honest and that this had led to her wanting to meet him. She told the offender of the impact that the crime had had on her and that she did not leave the church quarters for some time after and that she felt that he may come back and find her and possibly harm her. She has a pacemaker and the stress of this had been detrimental to her health. She had received some money back from the bank for her monetary loss, but had been impacted more by the fear that she had been left with. She gave the offender a firm talking to and told him that he needed to seek help for his drug problems and that he did not seem as if he is in control of himself. He bowed his head in shame and agreed with his victim. He was also very honest about the fact that he cannot guarantee that he will leave prison and not commit a grime as he described that he has had his nan and parents talk to him and although it resonates, he has still gone on to commit more crimes.
He described a buzz that he feels when committing crimes. We explored the times when the had managed to stay off drugs and maintain a job and allowed him to think about what was different at this time and whether he was still getting this “buzz” that he craved . During this time he did some volunteer work with disabled children, he did a mountain climb, and organised football tournaments. The victim encouraged the offender that he should believe in himself. She gave him a bible and asked him to reach a verse every night. The offender hung his head, and said he cannot believe that she would give him a gift after what he did. He learnt a lesson in forgiveness and agreed to some outcomes that would help him in his journey to a life away from crime.
One agreement was that he left prison and went straight into a residential drug rehab. Following the conference, we sourced a rehab that is ideal for the offender. We liaised with his offender manager and the referral has been put in. The offender will spend 8 weeks in this residential rehab on his release and will be the beginning of his journey to a more positive way of life.
Both parties left the meeting very grateful for the Restorative Justice process and felt that they had been given closure. Both had attended the meeting to provide closure for the other and this was achieved. The offender asked the victim if he could write to her about his progress, which she was very open to. Restorative justice has provided a valuable tool in both of their lives.
Case Study 4:
Elderly neighbour suffers abuse from neighbour
Mr Keane has lived at his property for the last 18 years he neighbour, he recently had a new neighbour Miss Jones who is 22 years old. Mr Keane is an elderly gentleman who is on medication for a variety of issues most notably for his breathing and lungs. Mr Keane started to smell cannabis whilst in his property one day and stated that he had trouble breathing, this continued for 6 months.
As it was a warm Mr Keane would have to open the windows, due to his problems breathing from the smell of cannabis. Mr Keane shut all the windows in his property. A few days later he saw his neighbour in the garden and decided to confront her about the use of cannabis and often loud noise coming from her property. As Mr Keane confronted her he was met with abusive and foul language from his neighbour, she also threaten to get another man to beat him up if he carried on complaining about the noise and the smell of cannabis which she denied.
Mr Keane enjoys fixing up his back garden which he shares with Miss Jones, but is afraid to leave his property in case he is confronted by his neighbour and her friend. The case was referred to our Restorative Justice team by Mr Keane’s housing officer. Our RJ Co-ordinator went out to visit both parties who agreed to meet with each other.
The meeting was held in a community centre not far from their residence, Mr Keane spoke first about the problems he was having with his breathing and how he sometimes felt like he was suffocating from the smell of cannabis coming into his property. Miss Jones then showed a great amount of remorse as she didn’t realise that what she called a “recreational activity” was causing so much damage to her neighbour’s health. She agreed not to smoke near the flat and apologised for the previous behaviour and stated she had been dealing with depression after losing her job.
Both made some agreements going forward one of which was they agreed to help fix up the shared back garden together. Mr Keane had experienced these issues for the past 6 months our RJ team was able to solve the issue in just over 3 weeks.
Case Study 5:
A 7 year Neighbour Dispute
Harmed (Homeowner) / Harmer (private tenant).
Harmed had preconceptions about harmer prior to him renting the property next door, as he had been involved in a criminal damage many years before at the local pub.
This started when the harmed sent his builders round to the harmer’s address to look at the inside of their property at some recent work. The harmer’s wife was alone and wouldn’t allow them entry, they proceeded to look through the harmer’s window in to the living room, the harmer’s wife was in her dressing gown.
When the harmer returned from work, he was upset by his wife’s recall of events, and soon verbal altercations started between the two males. A number of calls were made to the Police from both parties, these included noise nuisance, the harmed filming the harmer, and one matter involved the harmer hitting the harmed over the head with a telephone directory. The final matter culminated in the harmer assaulting the harmed by soaking him with a hosepipe.
The harmed had been offered mediation in the past; he refused this as he felt the neighbour was unapproachable. When RJ was mentioned he initially refused, stating he wanted an injunction.
I explained the difference between RJ and mediation, and gave him time to think about it. The harmed understood, that only with the acceptance from the harmer to change his behaviour would mean a change to their whole way of living.
Both attended conference, both realised how different events had affected the way they behaved towards each other. The harmer apologised for the assault and the ASB, which had started due to the way his wife had relayed to him the initial visit from the builder’s 6 years before. Both discussed the preconceived ideas the harmed had of the harmer, with the harmer being able to convey that although he had been ‘a bit of a one’ in the past, he was actually an approachable hard working man.
Both shook hands at the end of the conference and agreed to put their differences behind them and move forward.
During a follow up call to the harmed he stated his neighbour had been ‘as quiet as a mouse’. There have been no further calls for service since 2017.
Case Study 6:
A Mother’s Story: My Son – A Suspect
I’m going to start from after the incident(s):
After I was notified about what had happened I was mortified, concerned, stressed and angry because of the though that my son was capable of what he had done and at myself for having a responsibility of his upbringing.
My son was remorseful for what he had done, I could see that and how he explained that he had lashed out made me feel somewhat better?
The stress set in for the consequences of his actions, for him and also for me… Meetings with the school, the embarrassment and shame that my child had done this, which greatly increased when I was notified a complaint about the incident had been filed with the police.
In the first instance the Thought of prison, court, and what was going to happen to my son and now the rest of his life. I was contacted by the restorative justice officer and he explained how the victim’s mother did not want my son to receive a criminal record and that we could resolve the matter with restorative justice, this was all explained to me and how it would work,
I didn’t see any other option than to proceed and hope the outcome would be a good one for all involved. The meeting was arranged and anxiety had set in…. is the victim’s mother going to shout at me? Shout at my son? Be angry? Snarl at me across the table? I didn’t know what to expect and had scenarios running through my head.
The day came for the meeting and feeling quite anxious and stressed at the time, I know now I didn’t need to. I sat in the School reception and a lady sat just across from me, the victim’s mother. Dave and his colleague arrived and also a teacher, Dave made me feel at ease and was totally impartial and treated myself and the victim’s mother the same and equally, this put me at ease.
We filled out our agreement about how we would behave and headed into the room joined by my son and the victim. Dave (the police facilitator) headed the meeting and it flowed extremely well. I feel that Dave had prepared me, my son and the victim and her mother beforehand with advice which I feel made it much easier for all of us which was very important.
There was no shouting… no angriness or insults just a room of people accepting what had happened and how best to move forward to prevent anything like it happening again, to seek help and support from the school and other services but mainly for my son to speak in front of everyone and truly be remorseful for what had happened and to sincerely apologise to all involved, I was proud……. not to be in the position we were, but for the chance to see my son be honest and truthful.
The alternative option of prosecution didn’t bare thinking about it would have wrecked my sons life before it had started, leading into a downward spiral.
My son is still facing consequences for his actions, loss of friends, isolation but that’s ok it’s about him being given to chance to face up to what he had done and given a chance to show sincere remorse for his actions from which he will continue to learn from.
I have great gratitude that Restorative Justice is an option available in situations like this, more can be learnt this way as an alternative to prosecution. I would like to thank Dave for the continued support and guidance throughout this process and that he continues to help young people in these situations.
Case Study Videos
“Meeting him was a peculiar thing. I thought I’d feel worked up but I just felt at ease.”
Daniel, victim of wounding
“We have spent 5 years living a day at a time. Restorative Justice has really helped us look to the future.”
“I have heard people say RJ isn’t wanted by people who suffered my offence. Well it was for me.”
Rebecca, victim of rape