A restorativejustice servicewith a 100 per cent satisfaction rate for both victims and offenders is set to continue for a further three years.
Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner Steve Turner and the Probation Service have co-commissioned not-for-profit Safer Communities. The charity has run Restorative Cleveland, who deliver the service, since 2018.
Restorative Cleveland is a restorative justice programme, which gives victims the chance to communicate with offenders to explain the true impact of their crimes.
It empowers victims by giving them a voice and holds offenders to account for what they have done. It also helps offenders to take responsibility for their actions and make amends.
Between January and March 2022, figures show 100 per cent of victims felt better informed and more empowered to act following their restorative intervention with Restorative Cleveland.
Ninety three per cent of offenders surveyed during the same period said they felt a greater sense of responsibility after involvement with restorative justice.
According to one offender who has taken part in the programme, restorative justice is “the best thing I’ll ever do.”
The offender, who is serving eight years in prison for his part in an armed robbery on a shop, met one of his female victims face-to-face as part of the programme.
The offender said: “Restorative justice is all about the victim. In my eyes, I did the intervention to make the victim feel that I was not a monster and if she did see me, she did not have to feel scared of me anymore.
“It’s unbelievable. It’s the best thing I will ever do. Restorative justice takes its time but if you go forward with it – and you really want to – you can make a change and help somebody.”
Cleveland PCC Steve Turner has chosen the Home Office-led Criminal Justice System Week to re-endorse the successful service.
He said: “Restorative justice is voluntary and victim-led and will only take place when the victim feels ready. This may be some time after the crime.
“I’ve seen restorative justice in action and it really works. Victims get answers to questions, which they may have been asking themselves for years. It helps them start – or even continue – along the recovery process.”
Michelle Hill, Acting Chief Executive Officer for Safer Communities, said: “We are delighted and proud to continue supporting the OPCC in the delivery of high quality Restorative Justice within Cleveland.
“Our partnership continues to be a strong and effective tool in promoting community safety.”
Bronwen Elphick, Regional Probation Director, North East, said: “We have seen great benefits not only for the victims of crime, who are able to understand more about the perpetrator but also for the perpetrators too.
“They see first-hand both the emotional and physical damage their actions can cause. It is often this realisation which prevents them from re-offending.”