MORE than 1,500 victims of crime in Greater Manchester in the last three years have communicated with their offender, with 72 per cent saying it directly helped them to cope and/or recover from the offence. 80 per cent of offenders taking part also said the process increased their motivation not to reoffend.
In June 2019, Remedi - commissioned by Greater Manchester Combined Authority - launched the Greater Manchester Restorative Justice Service to help victims of crime cope and recover from their experiences and to help offenders to take responsibility for their actions and make amends.
Restorative justice brings those harmed by crime or conflict and those responsible together into communication, enabling everyone affected to play a part in repairing the harm and finding a positive way forward. This can either be directly, with the victim and offender meeting face to face, or indirectly through exchanging letters.
It gives victims the chance to tell offenders how their crime has affected them and the offender the opportunity to understand the impact that their crime(s) have had on the victim, apologise, and aid rehabilitation.
To mark International Restorative Justice Week from 20-26 November 2022, Remedi’s Greater Manchester adult and youth teams held an event to showcase and raise awareness of their work.
Since the service’s launch in June 2019, Greater Manchester’s Restorative Justice Service has taken 2,282 referrals and has helped arrange for 1,505 interventions between victims and offenders (166 direct meetings and 1,339 instances of indirect communication).
Feedback from both victims and offenders taking part in the Greater Manchester Restorative Justice Programme between April and September this year has shown:
- 80% of offenders said it directly increased their understanding of the impacts of their offence.
- 80% of offenders said it directly increased their motivation to not re-offend.
- 77% of victims said it improved their satisfaction with the criminal justice system.
- 49% of victims said it directly improved their health and wellbeing.
- 62% of victims said it directly improved their feelings of safety.
- 72% of victims said it directly helped them to cope and/or recover from the offence.
Bev Hughes, Deputy Mayor for Policing, Crime, Criminal Justice and Fire, said: “Restorative justice is such an important part of creating safer communities. This forward-thinking approach allows victims to explain to the offender the impact the crime committed against them has had on their life.
“The data gathered since we commissioned Remedi in June 2019 to deliver this service in Greater Manchester shows the impact already being made. Not only have 72 per cent of victims taking part told us restorative justice directly helped them to cope and/or recover from the offence, 80 per cent of the offenders also told us it increased their motivation to not reoffend afterwards.
“Remedi have brought a lot of expertise and knowledge to the service and have adapted their approach to fit the needs of Greater Manchester. Their extensive training and support package has had a significant impact of staff capability, self-esteem and mental wellbeing, meaning that the quality of service being delivered is of a very high standard.”
One example of a case which was referred to the Greater Manchester Restorative Justice Service is an armed bank robbery in Manchester City Centre which involved the use of a knife. A woman was sentenced to 6 years for the offence - serving five years and two months in prison and the remaining ten months on licence in the community.
There were three victims involved who were bank staff, with two agreeing to engage with Restorative Justice. One wanted to have a direct conversation with the offender and the other wished to receive a letter from them. The victims’ motivations for engaging were for the offender’s benefit.
GMRJS arranged a phone call between the victim who had agreed to direct communication and the offender, with the offender’s probation officer and two Restorative Justice Practitioners also on the call.
The offender said: “I really am so sorry. It's not right the impact a person can have on someone else. There are no excuses for what I did. I was nothing personal - it was only ever about the money.”
The offender went on to explain that drugs were a key factor in her offending behaviour: “I was addicted, I was dependent for stress and anxiety and this was a coping mechanism. It was my choice and my decision. There are no excuses.” She went onto talk about the rehabilitation work she has completed since the offence.
The victim responded to say: “I accept your apology. It's amazing all the work that you've done - you should be proud of yourself. I realise that this offence has changed your life.
I forgive you, and I know that my colleagues in the bank would forgive you too. I can tell that you're sorry. I now need you to forgive yourself so you can move forwards.”
Bev Hughes added: “This approach is all about making the justice system about people. I have met with and listened to victims who have been through a Restorative Justice process and listened to the positive impact that the process has had. Victims spoke particularly around the impact that the service had had on their physical and mental health, their outlook and attitudes and the importance of feeling as though they have a voice.
“There is clear evidence that the service allows a unique and different opportunity for victims to cope with and recover from their experiences that is not available through either the criminal justice system or other support services. I’m really pleased to see the impact the GMRJS is already having in Greater Manchester and it’s important we build on this to continue to change the lives of those impacted by crime and to support offenders into a life away from crime in the future.”
Article Published: 24/11/2022 15:48 PM