Restorative Justice can take place at any stage of the criminal justice system including out-of-court, pre-sentence and post sentence. It is important that Restorative Justice takes place at the right time for the parties involved, particularly the victim.
The Restorative Hub is a free service available to victims of crime within County Durham or those caught up in conflict and anti-social behaviour. We provide a safe space in which people can explore what’s happened, identify their needs and priorities, and communicate with one another to find a positive way forward.
We accept referrals from a wide range of agencies, in addition to self-referrals.
When should I make a referral?
Generally the sooner a referral is made the better, rather than letting issues fester and become entrenched. If a crime has had a significant emotional impact on a victim, having the chance to deal with their issues and ask questions about what happened to them at the earliest opportunity has proved very beneficial in helping them recover quickly and move forward.
Why make a referral?
Restorative Justice (where victims are offered the opportunity to meet their offender) and Restorative Mediation (where parties involved in a conflict are given the chance to communicate to find a way forward) both fall under the umbrella of a Restorative Approach.
Restorative Approaches have been shown to reduce demand on services and save money. Staff no longer have to make repeat visits to those involved in conflict, and the time and cost of court cases, sanctions and enforcement measures can be avoided.
What’s more, legal sanctions only address past behaviour. Restorative Approaches not only seek to repair past harm, but also include agreements about future behaviour – so have a longer term impact.
Restorative Approaches can also help in cases where formal legal sanctions are applied but the overall result is not satisfactory, or where there is insufficient evidence for a traditional legal remedy.
County Durham also offers a unique opportunity for victims of crime to become more involved in the criminal justice proceedings by offering a pre-sentence opportunity. This is in addition to the sentence and not designed to replace criminal proceedings. It has been successful in enabling victims to get closure at a much earlier stage and to feel part of the sentencing process. An RJ activity at the pre-sentence stage is one of the earliest opportunities for communication available to a victim, and can happen either during an adjournment (between plea and sentence) or as part of a deferred sentence.
The Restorative Hub will also be supporting the many trained practitioners we already have in County Durham and Darlington, helping to deliver interventions, pathways and sustainable resources within their host organisation.
Involvement in Restorative Approaches is voluntary for all parties.
Our facilitators can make repeat visits and offer clients the time that busy professionals may not have, to really listen and understand their needs and concerns. This can be very healing in itself.
Everyone involved in an issue is visited separately by our facilitators. All are listened to and their views on how to repair the harm are gathered.
If appropriate, the parties are then offered the chance to communicate together in a carefully managed meeting, where agreement on a way forward can be reached.
Many of our facilitators are volunteers whose sole interest is the good of the parties involved and the community as a whole, making the service independent. They have undertaken months of special training to prepare for the role, and their work is carefully supervised.
How to Refer
To make a referral, please email the attached form to our secure inbox at: firstname.lastname@example.org
For any queries, or to discuss a referral please call us on: 0191 300 8460