Victim / Offender Mediation
Some key elements of Victim / Offender Mediation
- This section seeks to provide a broad overview of many of the key features and elements in a victim / offender mediation. As every case is different it is not possible to provide a definitive or comprehensive process.
- A crime is committed against a person. The offender is arrested and appears in Court. The victim may or may not be called as a witness.
- The case is heard is Court and the offender pleads guilty.
- For a victim / offender mediation to be referred the offender must not be contesting their guilt – therefore they must be pleading guilty to the charge ergo accepting responsibility.
- Before a final sanction is imposed by the Court, the Judge or another party relevant to the case may suggest victim / offender mediation. With the agreement of the Court the case is formally referred to RJS and an appropriate adjournment is put in place.
- Referral information is then sent to RJS – including details of the offence and personal contacts of both parties.
- RJS contacts both parties initially by letter. The letter is very much an introductory letter and provides an explanation of what has happened in Court and the context of the referral. It also outlines the nature of the work of RJS and advises the reader that they will be contacted by telephone in the near future. An information leaflet is also provided in Court.
- Follow up by telephone provides an opportunity for the parties to find out more about what happened in Court and the work of RJS. Victims sometimes use it as a first opportunity to tell their story and vent some of their anger and/or frustrations.
- Separate meetings may then be held to discuss and assess levels of interest, suitability, motivation, and elements of a possible outcome. This is quite an important part of the process. In some cases there may be quite a number of separate meetings and telephone contacts.
- In the case of a joint meeting or another form of contact, the context of the dialogue is discussed and agreed in advance, as are many of the logistical arrangements. In fact permission and agreement to share information is usually sought at every significant step of the process. We believe this significantly contributes to the building of trust of the participants in the facilitators and the process. Nothing is shared unless agreed.
- A report to Court is provided by RJS once the process has been completed. The report will outline the nature of the discussions and the main points of any outcome.
- At this point the Court makes its decision as to how the matter will proceed in terms of official sanction.
Contacts and communication between the two people can take place in a number of different ways and RJS has facilitated many different forms of contacts between victims and offenders.
A Joint meeting
Such a meeting is facilitated by two restorative justice facilitators and usually takes place in our offices or a neutral venue nominated by the victim
Proximity / Shuttle
In this situation communication is carried back and forth between two separate rooms or location by the restorative justice facilitators
W ritten information / communication is carried back and forward between the victim and offender by the restorative justice facilitators
In advance of any direct or indirect contact between the parties, considerable planning and separate discussions with both victim and offender is undertaken by the restorative justice facilitators
Voluntary participation is considered by many restorative practitioners to be an important factor in reducing the possibility of revictimising the victim and enhancing the possibility of a meaningful engagement hat will meet the requirements of the victim.
Outcomes and Agreements
Cases mediated by RJS to dateproduced outcomes and agreements that have included
Apologies, verbal and written
Financial compensation to the victim and / or wider community
Offers of relocation, non contact policies
Agreement on form and context of future contact where it may be unavoidable
Written commitment to future good behaviour
Acts of reparation i.e. charity work