Bradford has been nationally recognised over a number of years for delivering highly effective Restorative Justice to deal with crime and conflict.
Restorative Justice (RJ) is a voluntary process which uses volunteer facilitators from the local community to bring victims and offenders into communication; this may be direct or indirect.
Victims and people affected by crime or conflict take part in a restorative process for many different reasons. Often victims have questions and want to understand why the crime or conflict has happened. Others have concerns which can only be addresses by engaging with those responsible for the harm. A restorative process places victims at the heart of the process.
RJ can be used at all stages of the Criminal Justice System. It can be used for neighbourhood conflict, or as an Out of Court Disposal, as part of a Court Order and can also be delivered within the Prison.
Many victims who have engaged in RJ found it very positive and an empowering experience. For those responsible for causing the harm, they have the opportunity to listen to the harm that they have caused and the impact of their actions, in turn this may reduce the chance of them reoffending in the future.
Restorative Justice volunteer facilitators give up their own time to support people through the restorative process. Volunteer facilitators meet with all parties to find out what has happened, the impact and what outcomes both parties want. They will then look to facilitate either a direct face to face meeting or undertake indirect work to look at getting questions answered and try to resolve some of the issues for all parties. Cases can take anywhere between 6 to 20 hours.
The project currently has over 50 volunteers who deliver a Restorative Justice (RJ) process for the Bradford and Keighley community. Different organisations including the Police, Victim Support, HMP Leeds, Housing and the Probation Service all refer cases to the project from low level to high risk offences
Volunteers come from a range of backgrounds and are motivated to help individuals make changes to their lives. Individuals going through the process often feedback that the volunteers should be paid for what they do and what an amazing job they do. By being neutral and impartial, they are viewed differently to professionals and can facilitate better outcomes.
Given the number of volunteers, we are able to ensure that those with the right skills and experiences are allocated to each case. A large number of volunteers are willing to act as interpreters to ensure that the service is accessible to all.
Two volunteers worked with a member of staff that had been racially assaulted by a customer. The volunteers met both the victim and the offender. The offender was remorseful for his actions and wanted to apologise for his behaviour. The facilitators risk assessed and organised a meeting between both parties which they facilitated. The meeting was an opportunity for the victim to talk about the impact upon her and for the offender to take responsibility for his actions and see the harm he has caused. Feedback afterwards was that both parties felt better about what happened and were able to move forward.
Feedback from volunteers….
‘Making a different to people’s lives however small, gives me a sense of achievement’.
‘Real satisfaction comes from helping others. Keeping away personal gain and needs. The best of all is resolving conflict between the two individuals or groups. I feel very satisfied when I do voluntary work with the RJ Hub’.
How do I find out more
You can find out more by contacting the Bradford Restorative Justice Hub at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01274 437516.