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Supporting victims to get closure

The Signpost Hub recently celebrated its first 100 days of service and its commitment to putting victims at the heart of everything it does. As well as providing emotional and practical support to victims of crime, the hub also offers access to Restorative Justice (RJ).

RJ enables victims to meet or communicate with the offender to explain the full impact the crime has had on them and to ask questions important to them, which helps to repair the damage caused by the crime. Since launching on 1 April the hub has progressed 63 RJ cases.

RJ does not replace the criminal justice system, but helps to deal with the emotions and stress caused by crime, so the person harmed can move on with their lives.

If you’ve been a victim of a crime it’s likely to have been a deeply upsetting and unsettling experience. For many people RJ helps to get closure after a traumatic time. People who have participated in restorative justice have reported that it has been an empowering experience which allowed them to feel more in control of what happened to them.

After a recent RJ conference the victim came away feeling completely satisfied in how the Restorative Approach helped her gain closure from her attack. The victim was badly assaulted in front of her four-year-old daughter whilst in the changing rooms at a public swimming pool.  The person who committed the attack was on a trip out with his two carers. Something triggered within the male and he violently assaulted the victim, which has had a long lasting effect on both the victim and her daughter.

The director of the care home where the male lives took full responsibility for this assault, his response and approach to changing practices at the care home have been remarkable.  He showed tremendous care and compassion towards the victim, agreeing to meet her in an RJ conference. It was an emotional meeting with both parties talking openly and honestly. The director of the home outlined all the changes he had made to policy/processes, and took on-board further learning from the comments the victim made.  It was clear to see the victim had gained a lot from the conference.  She has provided feedback and said: "I would like to say thank you for the meeting it has really helped me to put closure on my attack."

Through talking with the victim it was also identified the victim's four-year-old daughter needs some additional help as she is still suffering after witnessing her mum being assaulted and we’ve put her in contact with Embrace: Child Victims of Crime (CVOC). The director from the care home has since enquired of the victim if she would be willing to participate in future training events the home is developing to address similar issues.

Restorative justice can also be helpful for offenders because it enables them to understand the impact their actions have had. It gives them the chance to listen and to answer any questions they might have. They may apologise for what they have done and agree what they might do to make things better. This might include addressing the issues in their life that led them to commit the crime.

If you would like to talk to someone regarding restorative justice, contact the Signpost Hub on 0800 282887 or email info@signpostforbedfordshire.com

Vicky Marlin RJ
Victim Services Manager

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