Case Study 1:

Complex Noise Neighbour Dispute

Mr Heinz had been complaining for 8 months about the noise coming from the upstairs flat. Mr Heinz lives in a one bedroom flat on the ground floor. Upstairs is Mr Abdullah, he lives there with his three kids and his wife His kids are ages 2 and 3 and his other is 3 weeks old, during the day the kids make of a lot of noise running up and down the flat and slamming doors not on purpose. Mr Heinz states that he cannot get any rest due to the noise and says it’s starting to affect his mental health, Mr Heinz says he usually finds himself banging on his ceiling trying to get Mr Abdullah to stop the noise, he also says he wonders the streets in order to clear his head and get away from the noise.

The case was referred to Birmingham Restorative Justice Project after meeting with both parties they both agreed to a Restorative Justice meeting. During the meeting Mr Heinz explained how the noise was affecting him and how his is feeling depressed over the situation and how he goes to work and people are asking him what’s wrong.

Mr Abdullah accepted how Mr Heinz felt and expressed how sorry he is and explained that he cannot keep his kids still 24/7 but will try and make some arrangements to better the situation. Mr Abdullah agreed to buy some carpet and place them down in the noisy areas of the flat to lessen the noise his kids are making whilst playing in the flat, he also agreed to get door stoppers to avoid the kids slamming the door, he also agreed to try keep his kids occupied during the times when Mr Heinz was home from work. Mr Abdullah also stated that he had been looking to move to a big property due to his family growing and lack of space.

Both parties agreed to these outcomes and signed to say that they were happy to stick to the agreement. A case that had been ongoing for eight months was solved within three weeks by our RJ team, both parties was happy with the outcome.

Case Study 2:

Noisy Neighbour Dispute

This is a police case in relation to noise nuisance. The issues between these neighbours had been going on for 10 years and had police, environmental health and Midland Heart housing involvement over the years and still no resolution. One party had been complaining that his neighbour had been playing loud music until late hours, and that previously there had been issues with loud parties and people congregating at his neighbour’s property, this would be a regular occurrence but had been more frequent leading up the time of the call.

On visiting the other party, she spoke with us about the on-going issues and how she listened to music to deal with her depression. She felt that the neighbours had something against her because of her past and that she had had issues with the caller’s brother who had in the past, made sexual advances towards her. Due to this issue she was very reluctant to engage in Restorative Justice. She eventually agreed to try Restorative Justice but still did not believe that it would help anything. She asked that the conference took place at her house as this is the only way she would feel safe. Both parties agreed.

The conference was very tense to begin with, the caller spoke of the noise that he hears and how it had been affecting him. He described how the noise was making his depression worse and that he often took his frustrations out on his family, causing arguments between them. The facilitator of the conference allowed her the opportunity to do this for first time but in a controlled manner. The harmer spoke of how she was affected by the issues with the caller’s brother and that she had even changed the way she dressed since the incident.

Both parties had the opportunity to tell the other about the impact of the on-going issues and by the end they both had an understanding of how the other felt and as they both suffer with the same illness, they understood that they both deal with it in different ways. They agreed on some outcomes, including the level at which the music is reasonable for them both amongst other things such as amicable communication in the future. The caller was very thankful to the Restorative Justice facilitator at the end of the meeting and stated that he felt that a weight had been lifted off his shoulders. The harmer stated that she did not believe the meeting would work initially but she felt so much better by the end of it.

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 Restorative Justice 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 Videos

“I am not scared anymore and I feel so much better. Annie and Anita were both really great. Thank you.”

“I am really happy with the Birmingham Restorative Justice Service. It was a good experience and all the issues have now been dealt with. Thank you Annie.”

“Happy that things came out. Harry and Annie were brilliant, handled the conference beautifully and would recommend.”

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