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Restorative justice

Restorative justice is a process where a victim can meet the person who was responsible for the offence.

It is available to all victims of crime across Avon and Somerset. For many people, talking about what happened and how it made them feel helps them move on.

Video credit: Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

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when restorative justice can be used

Restorative justice can be used at any stage as the case goes through court as well as those dealt with outside of court.

There are three basic requirements that must be met before communication can take place:

  1. The offender must take some responsibility for the crime
  2. Both the victim and the offender must be willing to participate
  3. It has to be safe for both the victim and the offender to be involved in the process

If a meeting is not appropriate the restorative justice professional may be able to coordinate communication by letter or other means.

what happens during the restorative justice process

If you would like to meet or contact the person who has committed the crime, a trained practitioner can arrange this, if the offender agrees.

This could be one or a combination of the following:

  • a face-to-face meeting in a neutral location, or a virtual meeting, where you are able to bring along relatives, friends or other people to give you support
  • a shuttle meeting, where the practitioners go between you and the offender, to allow for communication without direct contact
  • a letter of apology or explanation, where the offender can write to you to explain why they did what they did and answer questions you might have
what the benefits are for the victim

Restorative justice gives you a chance to talk about what happened with the offender. This might include:

  • telling them your thoughts and how they made you feel
  • asking questions
  • agreeing with the offender how they might make amends for their actions – such as explaining why they did it, writing an apology or doing voluntary work
  • being able to move on from what has happened

Watch the film ‘a victim’s guide to restorative justice’ to find out when you can access restorative justice and who to contact.

Anonymous feedback from victims who have used restorative justice:

“The time that restorative justice facilitators took with me was really helpful and enabled me to take back control in the face-to-face meeting that I had with the perpetrator.”

“Restorative justice worked for me. I had tried lots of things that’d helped but it hadn’t gone away. After the face-to-face meeting, I felt better and have continued to feel better each day. It was like a light switch for me.”

“Through taking part in the restorative justice process I was keen to hear why the offender targeted my property. I wanted them to hear what impact it had on me and my family, as well as see the error in their ways in the hope that it would stop them reoffending in the future.”

what the benefits are for the offender

Restorative justice helps offenders by:

  • helping them to understand how their actions affect other people
  • giving them a chance to explain or apologise
  • allowing them to deal with any feelings of guilt and remorse
  • agreeing how they can make amends with the victim

Anonymous feedback from offenders who have used restorative justice:

“The facilitators were a greatly paired team whose advice was both professional and understanding and warmly delivered. I can’t fault the approach at all and further dealing with the police would not have been so positive for me as I would have been more frightened. The help I did receive was extremely good and helped me to apologise for the terrible mistake I made.”

“It’s made me see more sense in what I do and made me think on what to do now.”

how can I become involved

You can contact a restorative justice Coordinator:

Emails and phones are not monitored during evenings and weekends. In an emergency, call 999 and in a non-emergency call 101.

how to give feedback about restorative justice

If you would like to provide any feedback or make a complaint about your service, email vwfeedback@avonandsomerset.police.uk.

Case studies

Read, or listen to some success stories from victims and offenders that have used restorative justice:

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