Three events are being held in Bristol to mark International Restorative Justice Week (20-27 November).
Restorative justice brings together those harmed by crime or conflict, and those responsible for the harm.
The process enables everyone affected by an incident to play a part in repairing the harm and finding a positive way forward.
On Tuesday 22 November representatives from Restorative Bristol - an umbrella organisation for the city’s restorative practitioners and services, coordinated by Bristol City Council and supported through the Safer Bristol Partnership – will be staffing a special information stall at the Citizens Service Point, 100 Temple Street, Bristol BS1 6AG, from 9.30am to 4pm.
While on Friday 25 November, Avon and Somerset Police is holding a drop-in event at their pop-up Cop Shop at The Galleries, Broadmead, from 9am-5pm.
Both of these events are open to anyone who wants to learn more about the work restorative justice coordinators are doing to bring together those harmed by crime or conflict and those responsible for the harm.
Councillor Asher Craig, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, said: “It’s important that we celebrate the benefits of restorative approaches which allow offenders to take responsibility for their actions.
“In Bristol we proactively use these approaches across a wide number of organisations to address conflict, help build understanding and strengthen relationships.
“Restorative justice allows the victim to be more involved in the process, which can be empowering, and it also gives people a sense of closure that is not always achieved through other avenues.”
Restorative Bristol and UWE Social Science in the City have joined forces for ‘No Barriers Allowed: Creative uses of Restorative Justice in Bristol’, an event taking place at the Watershed on Wednesday 23 November, from 5.30pm-8pm.
Guest speakers include PC Mark Brain of Avon and Somerset Police, Marian Liebmann of the Road Sharing Scheme, Dr Nikki McKenzie of UWE Bristol, Stephanie Todd of Lighthouse and Avon and Somerset Police, and Michelle Windle of The Green House.
Dr Nikki McKenzie, Senior Lecturer in Criminology at UWE Bristol, said: “This is the third year that UWE Bristol’s Social Science in the City and Restorative Bristol have joined together to celebrate International Restorative Justice Week and the various ways that Bristol delivers and supports restorative initiatives within the community. This is an important event that will showcase how the community is working together to resolve conflict and repair harm.”
Stephanie Todd, Restorative Justice Coordinator at Avon and Somerset Police, said: “Restorative Justice Week is a fantastic opportunity to showcase the restorative work that we do. A recent poll showed that only 28% of the public had heard of restorative justice yet 80% believed victims have the right to communicate with their offender.
“We believe all victims have the right to know about restorative justice and how to access the service. We offer victims of crime and ASB the opportunity to communicate with their offender in a safe and controlled environment to discuss what happened, the impact and how to move forward positively.
“This year we are embracing Restorative Justice Week by engaging with the citizens of Bristol to raise awareness of this service. We look forward to speaking to as many people as possible and raising interest and discussion around restorative justice.”
In criminal justice, restorative processes give victims the chance to meet or communicate with their offenders to explain the real impact of the crime.
It empowers victims by giving them a voice and it also holds offenders to account for what they have done and helps them to take responsibility and make amends.
Restorative justice is 100% voluntary. Through the process victims and offenders decide how the offender can repair the harm or make amends for what they have done - this can include an apology or an agreement to do work in the community.
Since its launch in December 2012, Restorative Bristol has been expanding the approach to other sectors including schools and other community groups. In these contexts it is also known as “restorative approaches” and “restorative practices”.
To find out more about Restorative Bristol and how to get involved visit http://restorativebristol.co.uk/
visit the Restorative Bristol Facebook page or follow @RJCoordinators on Twitter.