In a meeting to commemorate International Restorative Justice Week, victims of crime in Manchester have shared how their experience with restorative justice and how it has benefitted them.
The service is commissioned by Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), in collaboration with Greater Manchester Police and other agencies across the region is delivered by the charity Remedi. Remedi is a specialist charity that offers restorative justice to crime victims.
Three of those victims – Paula Robinson, Nick Ringland, and Tony Wright – were joined in a meeting with Deputy Mayor of Greater Manchester Bev Hughes and representatives from Remedi and Greater Manchester Police to discuss their experience of restorative justice during International Restorative Justice Week.
Since the summer of 2019, victims of crime in Manchester have had access to the Greater Manchester Restorative Justice Service (GMRJS), and since its launch, over 100 victims of crime have benefited from the programme.
From June 2019, out of the 114 victims who have used the service, 98% said they were happy with the programme and would recommend it to others, with 80% also saying that they felt more empowered following the experience.
Paula said that Remedi reached out to her Parish church when it was broken into, asking if they would like to speak to the offender. Paula, as the representative for the church, said that the meeting “helped us all to process what happened and move on with our lives.”
Nick Ringland, a paramedic with the North West Ambulance Service, was assaulted while he was on a case. He said: “As I went on my restorative justice journey it felt rewarding to meet the offender and hear his story – this helped me understand what had happened and why.”
Nick also said that it gave him the opportunity “to explain the knock-on effect of this kind of assault.”
Tony Wright, who was assaulted by a group of young people while he was walking by the canal, was, at first, “a bit skeptical of restorative justice” because he “wasn’t sure it would work”.
After going ahead with the opportunity, Tony said that the meeting he had with his offenders and their parents allowed him to explain “how the incident made him feel”.
Following the process, Nick now believes that those involved in his incident “are all better off for the restorative justice experience”.
Restorative justice allows people to make contact with the perpetrator of their crime, whether it be through a meeting in person or through a letter, and will always be done under the guidance and supervision of a trained professional.
Victims are allowed to request the opportunity for restorative justice at any point during the criminal justice process.
Speaking at the meeting, the Deputy Mayor of Greater Manchester, Bev Hughes, said she was happy that the process was benefiting victims in the city.
She added that she “knows that when used in the right way, restorative justice can be very effective” and that it allows criminals to “face up to what they’ve done and gives victims the closure they need.”
The Deputy Mayor also highlighted that the GMRJS has “already helped 100 victims of crime while ensuring a consistent offer across the city-region.”
This has given “victims the chance to take part if they wish, while making sure restorative justice is used approriately putting the needs of victims at the heart.”
Sarah Morton, Superintendent GMP’s Criminal Justice and Custody Branch, said: “GMP are delighted to have a number of staff working in partnership with Remedi and GMCA to deliver the new GMRJS.
“This week is an opportunity to highlight to the public, but also professionals working in the criminal justice system, that this service is out there to take referrals and that it can really help.”
Chris Hickin, a representative from Remedi, added: “Having delivered restorative justice for 24 years across all forms of the criminal justice system we know the impact it can have on people’s lives and be such an empowering process to go through.”