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Restorative justice

Restorative justice gives you the chance to tell the offender how their crime has affected you. The offender is then given the opportunity to repair this harm and make amends.

This process will only take place if both you and the offender want it to, and if trained facilitators agree that it is safe.

Restorative justice can be done in different ways – for example through face-to-face meetings, or exchanged messages, but it will always be done under the guidance of a trained professional.

How it can help

You may welcome the opportunity to confront the offender and explain to them the harm that they have caused you. You will also be able to make suggestions as to how this harm can be repaired.

In some cases, victims and survivors find that meeting their offender makes them appear less scary or intimidating. You will be able to ask them why they did what they did, and other questions you may have. Some victims find that, even when they know the offender, meeting them in a safe, controlled environment and talking about what they did, makes them feel better about the prospect of potentially bumping into them again out in the community.

The empowered victim and survivor feels less vulnerable and threatened, and is able to move on with their life.

Offenders are confronted with the impact of their crime, putting a human face to the damage and harm they have caused. This is a very challenging experience for the offender and can be a powerful deterrent in committing crimes again in the future.

When can restorative justice be used?

You can ask for restorative justice at any stage of the criminal justice process for most crimes – either alongside a community order,prison sentence, or as an alternative to the courts and traditional criminal justice processes.

Greater Manchester Police or another suitable organisation, will help organise the process, providing both the victim AND the offender agree to the process. A list of service providers and trained facilitators can be found on the Restorative Justice Council website.

Although there are no crimes specifically excluded as being suitable for restorative justice, certain categories of crime require additional scrutiny from a senior detective before they can be considered. Examples of this include cases of domestic abuse.

All requests for restorative justice will be assessed on a case-by-case basis, and if you ask for this service, you will be advised whether or not it is appropriate for your particular crime and case.

What happens?

Restorative justice often involves a structured meeting, where a victim meets their offender face to face in a safe, controlled environment.

Before any agreements are made, a trained facilitator will visit you and talk through the process, managing your expectations and answering any questions you may have. It is not uncommon for victims and survivors to have questions, concerns and queries about the restorative justice process. That’s why facilitators will only go ahead with the meeting once you are completely happy and comfortable with the arrangements.

Facilitators will go at your pace and neither you nor the offender will be under any obligation to take part in the process, and either of you can choose to withdraw from it at any time if you want to.

Sometimes, when a face to face meeting is not the best way forward, the victim and offender will communicate via letters, audio or video recording instead.

For any kind of communication to take place, the offender must have admitted to the crime, and both victim and offender must be willing to participate.

If you decide you no longer wish to take part, Greater Manchester Police will explore all of the alternative options available to you.

At the end of any restorative justice meeting or message exchange, both parties will agree on a way to repair any harm done. This agreement will form the basis of the restorative process. This could be a simple apology, may involve compensation for any damage caused or a commitment from the offender to address their behaviour by attending a specific course.

Although the offender may initially agree to the conditions put to them as part of the restorative justice process, they may not continue to cooperate with any agreed outcome. In these circumstances, the police, in consultation with the victim, may decide to pursue alternative forms of justice such as a conditional caution or court proceedings.

Hear from others who have been through it

Hearing the personal accounts of those who have already been through the restorative justice process can give you some reassurance as to the benefits of the process, so you can decide if it’s right for you. Visit the Restorative Justice Council website to read case studies and find out more.

What happens if you are not happy with the process?

If at any point in the process you no longer wish to take part, Greater Manchester Police or any other organisation that is providing the restorative service, should respect your decision and discuss your options.

Restorative justice is completely voluntary and you should not feel under any undue pressure to take part. Trained facilitators will talk you through the whole process and answer any questions you may have on your restorative journey.

Videos

The videos on this page give you some insight into the restorative justice process and the impact it can have on victims of crime and offenders.

They include stories from victims of crime who have experienced the process, and also a video produced by Cheshire and Greater Manchester Community Rehabilitation Company which shows you what their restorative justice process is like from the offender's point of view.

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